Mini Cooper S: Mayfair 50

To celebrate 50 years, Mini created unique packaging for the Mini Cooper S available only for one year. The 50 Mayfair Special Edition costs $5,000 more ($10 more per year celebrated) but enthusiasts won’t mind a bit. Collectors will eat it up.

Unique details just for the year

Mini used the Mayfair name in the ‘80s to connote pampering. That hasn’t changed. Among the goodies that certify your 50 Mayfair status, a bright placard is adhered to the grille. Hoods will want to steal them, so be careful where you park. Other accoutrements include top-of-the-line stereo and state-of-the-art infotainment system (Bluetooth and USB friendly), leather steering wheel and heated sport seats, sunroof – and cheekily aggressive spoked 17” alloy wheels.

Regular Mini goodies

As always, Mini’s circular design ethic is evident throughout. It’s a careful exercise in roundness. From the retro instrument dials, to the key remote which you slip into a slot before thumbing the circular start/stop button, so much looks like Mickey mouse ears. You want to hug it. But speaking of Disney, under the hood it’s more Hercules considering its size: a turbocharged 16-valve engine that puts out 172 hp.

That’s only part of the reason it’s fun to drive. Shifting increases the thrills, though the 6-gear stick with reverse beside first takes getting used to. You’re nervous you’ll suddenly go backwards when starting.

Especially the drive

At the risk of sounding obvious, it has a low centre of gravity and tight turning circle. The tires rest at the corners of the car like a yogi in downward dog, defying velocity with extra gravity when you push it in a tight turn. All these make it a joy to drive, especially in the city. Watch the drivers of a Mini Cooper S if you pass one in traffic (or if they’re passing you). It’s hard to be at the wheel and contain a smile.

Duh, it’s still small

Technically, you can fit four but I wouldn’t recommend making it a habit. Sure, Europeans have been doing it for 50 years but they’re also comfortable in Speedos.

Price As Tested: $ 34,900

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