MINI Urban Drive – Mumbai
We drove the MINI hatchbacks on a go-kart track, perfect place for such potential cars
Every manufacturer has something up their sleeve to please the media. And not just media, they bring that something special for their customers too. Last weekend MINI had planned an Urban Drive across 7 cities in India. Well, not an intercity boring drive rather an exciting go-kart track experience. MINI had each and every car from their line-up for the track experience. While they had their all-new Countryman setup for an emergency braking test.
I was put in group 1 where we would experience the go-kart track first. Before we got to the track, two expert drivers from Malaysia gave us a quick walkaround and instructions on how to drive these MINIs in the safest possible way. We had to choose between the flagship Clubman, the Convertible or the Cooper S. I chose the Cooper S for the first 3 laps and then switched to the Clubman for another 3 laps. The Cooper S drove like a pocket-rocket in that 1 km track and I timed the second-fastest lap at 37 seconds.
Just at the moment, as we switched cars, it drizzled a little. This made the track wet enough to lose traction if we pushed too hard. The instructor advised me to enjoy the same in the Clubman without switching off traction control. Did the same sequence of 2 practice laps and then a timed lap in the Clubman and it kept drizzling the whole time. Tons of body roll as compared to the Cooper S but the traction control kept everything under control. In the Clubman, I timed the fastest lap of 40 seconds in wet conditions. I was impressed with how the electronics keep the flagship Clubman just as fun as Cooper S and safe too.
One-of-a-kind driving experience that let us push the iconic MINIs to their limit
Next up was emergency braking and ABS test. The MINI Countryman was the only car option to choose for this test. Well, there was a choice to pick a colour of the car and either the diesel or the petrol engine option. I was put along with a customer for this test and we each got 4 laps of the braking test. The setup was more or less the same as a moose test but the second section had standing water. We had to follow just two simple procedures – gun the throttle at the start line and jam the brakes as we reach the first set of cones. We also had to steer to the right and follow the path while we complete our braking.
The brakes on the MINI Countryman felt super strong and had amazing feedback. A cross-country car with a lot of capabilities within. The steering on the Cooper S was just mind-blowing, it’s a track wolf with sheep’s clothing. While the comfort and electronics made the Clubman even more appealing, a definite flagship model here. I would say it was one of the best ways I spent my Saturday mornings. Although you wouldn’t see many MINI cars out on the road, these are those iconic machines that catch the eye. While I drove almost all the models in just those 3 hours of time, I really like how these petrol engines have a rumble. If you ever drive a MIN, do notice the firecracker noise during liftoff.