Often, one’s subconsciousness is a better gauge of sentiment than any conscientious attempt at mindful deliberation. Trust your gut, is what I’m saying.
Today, mine jolted me awake with the sky just turning turquoise, egging me to jump into this bright green happy capsule to enjoy the sunrise on a meandering, aimless hunt for breakfast.
I embark on a “see where the roads take you” kind of morning blast.
It really is little surprise that I am thus inspired. The folks at MINI are phenomenal brand builders, and here, sitting wide eyed and welcoming, in my carpark on a perfect morning is a distillation of their efforts.
With a squat and purposeful stance, diminutive dimensions, go-faster stripes, patterned soft top, splashes of chrome and colour everywhere, there is very little about this puppy of a car that does not yip “LOVE ME! PLAY WITH ME!”
MINI could have engineered a solution where the retracted soft-top is hidden more neatly under a tonneau cover.
But like Song Joong-Ki breezily but deliberately dangling his jacket over his shoulder, there is something devilishly endearing, with a certai je ne sais quoi, about simply bunching the furled roof up over the car’s truncated rump.
The upshot is a hunk of fabric in your rear-view mirror.
Before long, I find myself tangoing with fellow early risers along Orchard Road, drinking in a city just about to put on its sharpest pantsuit and best, customer-facing smile.
Gunning the 2-litre motor, my abs tighten as the car cannonballs into the right lane. This 176hp lump breathes strongly from low down, with but a hint of turbo lag that Sport mode mostly eliminates while turning the interior lights a mischievous red.
It is a firmly clenched bicep, booming a low, constant tone rather than shrieking a banshee-like crescendo. It suits the Cooper S’ balled up, squat disposition excellently, and I did not find myself wanting for much more power.
As the streetlights hand over the job of illumination to the sun and blink suddenly off, my thoughts wander to the Mazda MX-5.
The svelte roadster uses body colours atop of the door cards in an effort to make the car disappear, immersing you more completely in the world at large.
Around me now, though, is noticeably still plenty of beaming Convertible, although the upright windscreen is happily far away and does not encroach on your enjoyment of the open sky.
MINI’s detailed approach to interior design, bringing with it a pastel palette of creative, funky garnishes, never leaves your mind’s eye.
The effect is the addition of your car’s own colourful chocolate sprinkles to your experience of the skyscrapers whooshing by, peppered with the cheeky whistles of a turbo heart.
This approach to dipping you into the cityscape is undeniably vibrant, undeniably characterful, and a testament to the cultural and aesthetic talent of its creators.
Clemenceau Avenue’s bends give me an opportunity to savour the car’s dynamic textures. The MX-5 again comes to mind.
Not because as the only two choices for relatively affordable convertible playthings they occupy a similar market segment, but because they are so different in mechanical philosophy in almost every respect that they serve as the perfect foil for each other.
The rear-wheel-driven, naturally aspirated MX-5 is featherlight, lithe, twinkle-toed, and just a bit terrifying in a downpour.
The MINI greets you with a rather stouter handshake. Rather than glide amongst traffic, the Cooper S makes its way through it in a volley of tiny, tightly clenched punches.
Fairly thickly starched in overall demeanour, a sensation of substance never leaves you. That is no surprise, as the MINI is not a featherweight. Yet with substance comes solidity.
There is a resolve to gamely hold onto the road and dartingly obey your steering wheel that speaks to a level of capability in the chassis honed well over the generations.
Hoof the throttle, and the front paws will scrabble gamely at the tarmac, as will those of a tightly wound bulldog. Because its dimensions are so small and the sightlines so good, bombing around remains a laugh-a-minute affair.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
Finally, coffee and a croissant.
I pen these thoughts sipping on a cappuccino along Mohamad Sultan Road, peeking through the hipster café’s window at the Cooper S Convertible’s colourful profile wedged trendily in front of equally vibrant shophouses.
Because of the substance and quality that runs through the car and its demeanour, this feels more like the “youthful” section of the Hermes boutique than the carefree, genuinely cheap hand-woven slippers you might find in a Havana flea market.
Which is how you think the MINI brand wants to feel and how its customers like to enjoy their carefully crafted bauble.
Scrunching my nose up, I concentrate, trying my best to envision being in one of MINI’s corporate videos full of vivid, diverse city people going about their bright, vivacious lives beaming their energetic, good-spirited laughs.
It works. The Cooper S Convertible makes me feel properly young, and properly cosmopolitan. It has been an excellent morning and I am now in a wonderful mood.
MINI Cooper S Convertible 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 176hp (178PS, 131kW) at 5000-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 280Nm at 1350-4200rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 132.8 hp per tonne
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 6.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 230km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.2km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $211,888 (after $15k VES surcharge)
AGENT Eurokars Habitat
Click here for our MINI One 5-Door review