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First look: Friskier al-fresco Mini makeover

From the outside: 2005 Mini update includes new headlights, bumpers, alloy wheel designs and revised trim inside and out.

A faster drop top and motor massage should help address Mini’s main moaning point

27 Apr 2004

IMPROVED performance, a revised gearbox and new colours and trim are the 2005 Mini’s major makeover points.

Due to be released at the Sydney motor show in October, the refreshed British engineered and built hatchback will also see the local debut of the convertible model.

And the supercharged Cooper S convertible will top the Australian Mini range when it goes on sale early next year, following a preview at Sydney.

In both body styles, the Cooper S now produces 125kW of power at 6000rpm (up 5kW) and 220Nm of torque at 4000rpm (up 10Nm) from the BMW/DaimlerChrysler joint-venture 1.6-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine.

Zero to 100km/h takes 7.2 seconds on the way to the hottest Mini’s 222km/h maximum velocity, compared to today’s respective 7.4-second and 218km/h capabilities.

Shorter six-speed manual gearbox ratios and a new supercharger and intercooler are behind the small performance lift.

Meanwhile the regular, naturally aspirated 85kW 1.6 motor gains a miniscule 1Nm torque increase to bring it to 150Nm, while its five-speed manual gearbox also gains slightly lower gear ratios for more animated acceleration.

Its 0-100km/h sprint now takes 9.1 seconds, a 0.1 second improvement, on its way to a seemingly unchanged 200km/h.

Outside, it will take a keen eye to identify the perkier Mini’s newly designed headlights, front bumper and wheels, clear-glass tail-light treatment and revised colour palate (which now includes black and purple), while updated trim and fabrics give the game away inside.

Additionally, Cooper S cars can now come with colour-keyed (instead of brushed aluminium-look) dash trim, while buyers can now opt for a new central instrumentation display that displaces the tachometer to the steering column for a set of oil temperature and pressure, water and fuel level gauges.

On the convenience front, wider door armrests, more grab handles, extra storage spaces, a bigger rear view mirror, second driver’s side sun visor and improved climate control switches have also been incorporated.

This is the first facelift for the R50 series Mini, which debuted locally in March 2002.

Since then more than 3500 have found homes, out of a worldwide total of 375,000.

The half-millionth Mini is due to roll off the Cowley, UK, production line later this year.

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