The Ford Fiesta ST died last year. The Renault Clio RS and Peugeot 208 GTI went a couple of years before that. The Hyundai i20 N has been quietly dropped from UK order books. What is left is a mixed bunch - the Abarth 595 is charming but ancient, the Volkswagen Polo GTI can’t really cut it anymore, and the Toyota GR Yaris is an altogether more bespoke, specialised bit of kit.
Yep, it seems that the small, fast petrol-powered supermini is very much an endangered species, and this could well be its last stand. Meet the new Mini Cooper S.
The new Cooper S debuts as one of two petrol-powered versions of the fourth-gen Mini hatchback, which we first saw in fully electric form last year. The old Cooper trim level is superseded by the new Cooper C, which features a 154bhp three-cylinder engine and will go from 0-62mph in a relatively spritely 7.7 seconds. Mini hasn’t actually given us details like capacity, but it’s safe to assume the engine is the same 1.5-litre unit featured in the outgoing car.
Slightly more interesting, though, because it represents one of the last bastions of the B-segment hot hatch, is the new Cooper S. It has a four-cylinder engine - again, likely the 2.0-litre from the current car - making 201bhp and 221lb ft of torque, which makes for a 0-62 sprint of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 150mph.
It’s all sounding rather promising so far, representing a new entry in a rapidly shrinking market segment that we’re very big fans of. There is a catch, though, something very noticeable by its absence in these interior shots: a manual gearbox. As confirmed last year, the three-pedal Mini is dead. Mini does at least say that “the removal of the gearstick generates extra space for a new wireless charging shelf.” Gee, thanks. The sole gearbox option is now a seven-speed dual-clutch unit.
Once you’ve chosen between Cooper C and S, you can select three further trim levels. Classic is supposed to be a minimalist throwback look with silver highlights and some bright, sunny exterior colour options. The Exclusive trim brings a more stately vibe with standard 17-inch silver wheels and the option of British Racing Green paint. Finally, there’s the self-explanatory Sport trim, which brings a rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, and lots of red accents on the inside. Sport is also the only way of getting gearshift paddles, giving you back some degree of control over the gearbox.
Other than that, it’s largely as per the new electric Mini. The interior is dominated by that 9.5-inch central circular OLED display, from which pretty much all functions are accessed via either touch or voice control. Driver-centric info is also laid out on a head-up display. There are seven different selectable ‘Experience Modes’ for the interior, each of which change the background of the central screen and the colour of the ambient lighting.
Prices for the new Cooper start at £22,300 for the C and £26,700 for the S, and they’ll soon be on sale alongside the electric version. You can probably expect a hotter, harder JCW variant further down the line. Don’t hold your breath for three pedals in that one either though.