MINI Malaysia’s MINI Track Day 2020 “Go Mad Stay Sane” saw prospectors and media members sampling MINI cars at Sepang International Circuit.
Driving fast is not just about going quickly, but also being smooth and safe. Which is why MINI Malaysia’s MINI Track Day 2020 “Go Mad Stay Sane” theme does make plenty of sense.
MINI Malaysia’s MINI Track Day 2020 all about bringing people who love driving together and sample some of MINI Malaysia’s flagship models at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC). The models in question are the MINI Cooper S 3-Door, Cooper S 5-Door, Cooper S Countryman, and the 2018 MINI John Cooper Works (JCW) 3-door as well as the current MINI JCW Clubman.
Making an appearance at the MINI Track Day event was the new MINI Countryman Blackheath Edition. Limited to only 40 units, this special MINI Countryman is clad in an all-black design, reminiscent of the dark shrubland of Blackheath, South East London in the United Kingdom.
The Blackheath Edition is distinguishable with its Midnight Black exterior colour and Piano Black design features. While the black MINI stripes boast a brushed aluminium texture unlike seen on mainstream MINI models.
The interior gets an anthracite headliner with seats trimmed in Carbon Black Cross Punch leather upholstery and piano black interior trim comes naturally. However, the MINI Connected infotainment system and the 12 Colour ambient lighting are contrasts to the black tones.
Also, the limited-edition MINI comes with the latest update of the MINI Connected App, and a newly updated MINI TwinPower Turbo engine paired with the 7-Speed Sport Dual Clutch Transmission.
The MINI Track Day 2020 was the venue for customers and media to sample the MINI cars in a controlled and safe environment. Besides having given a quick history lesson of how John Cooper got his name on the MINI cars, the participants were given a basic advanced defensive driving lesson through a timed slalom course before going on a guided lap of the SIC’s South Circuit.
Passion is synonymous with MINI, and it has earned that reputation by imparting more than just passion-fuelled drives for the past 60 years but also by playing a significant role in ensuring that passion translates safely on the road. The MINI Track Day is how we fulfil that responsibility while making it enjoyable for all, and we are glad to present yet another thrilling experience for MINI fans this year.
Sashi Ambi, Head of Corporate Communications, BMW Group Malaysia.
The MINI driving experience – a mini-review.
Having driven the cars on the track, Breena Au shares her quick and brief experience with the 2018 F45 MINI Cooper S 5-Door during the slalom exercise and the SIC’s South Track laps in the 2018 JCW 3-Door and 2019 JCW Clubman.
To summarise, the 2018 F54 MINI Cooper S 5-Door felt taut and agile, despite having a relatively longer wheelbase than the 3-Door body. And without having the feeling of chassis flex, the 5-door delivered its promised handling agility. Moreover, the steering is direct and weighty, though lacking feel. However, the car’s dynamics can still be felt through the seats.
With 189 bhp at 5,000 rpm and 280 Nm at 1,350 rpm, the zesty turbocharged four-cylinder and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is a nice pair. The traction control system kept the engine back when the steering is at an acute angle.
This is to prevent the car from understeering when the driver becomes overly excited or impatient with the accelerator pedal when turning the car around. On the contrary, the traction control eases the power back in when the steering is corrected forwards.
All in all, the 5-Door was an easy-going car to drive and responses well to direction changes, especially when threading through the cones. The brake pedal felt positively progressive, too.
The JCWs was a thrill to drive, be it the pre-updated 228 bhp, 320 Nm and the 2019 JCW’s 302 bhp, 450 Nm versions. With slight tweaks made to the suspension system to address the power hike, the JCW MINIs chassis characteristics are uncanny to the 5-Door as mentioned albeit with a much stiffer and busier ride.
Moreover, having a mechanical slip differential in the previous model and the brake-actuated torque vectoring in the newer car does help the JCW MINIs to have a better on-throttle turn-in-ability without much of the dreaded torque steer. Also, the eight-speed conventional automatic transmission is in both cars are nicely spaced and quick to shift.
Having 74 bhp and 130 Nm separating the two cars, the performance disparity may look shockingly wide on paper, but the newer JCW feels a whiff quicker than the old car on the track. But, that isn’t a fair comparison considering that both cars were in their 3-Door and Clubman bodies.
Unquestionably, both cars are a joy and a confidence boost to drive on the track. Again, the chassis of both cars are sublime, and there’s plenty the car can tell you how the soft and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – instead of their respective default Pirellis and Continentals – were feeling. Moreover, the direction changes for both cars are effortless, while the Clubman’s longer wheelbase feels more progressive.
However, it would be great to take these cars in a real-world environment to better explore the duality of these cars. But unfortunately, these cars on track will be de-fleeted after the track day, and until then, hopefully, we get to sample the new cars in the real world.