A big Mini adventure in Bali

It was just as fun as it sounds
by Botchi Santos | Feb 23, 2017

Mini's cars have always exemplified a few key qualities: quirkiness, adventure, tongue-in-cheek fun, and humor. But their driving dynamics are second to none, a reflection of the brand's strong motorsports heritage. So when Mini Philippines invited us to Bali, Indonesia, to sample the latest Mini Cooper S Convertible and S Clubman, we packed our bags in excitement well before our departure date. Driving shoes? Check. Driving gloves? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Camera? Check. 

Day one saw us cover the most mileage in the Convertible. At just under 190kms, we bisected the main island and headed directly north before turning west to follow the northern coastline. Vegetation was lush and the roads were super tight and twisty, but the view was magnificent. It helped that the local Balinese government was very supportive of our endeavors, and assigned four Indonesian National Police motorcycle escorts to us throughout the three-day event.

Along the way, we dropped by Secret Garden, a huge farm that grows coffee and health and wellness products. We ended our day at Naya Gawana Resort, a resort spa that gives traditional Balinese massages and spa treatments.

The new-generation Convertible looks very similar to its predecessor, but put them side by side and you’ll see how the new model has grown. It hides its heft very well in its folds and creases, and it feels as dynamic and responsive as ever.

Under its hood is a 2.0-liter direct-injected petrol mill featuring BMW’s twin-power, twin-scroll turbocharged engine. It delivers a very decent 192hp and 280Nm through the front wheels via a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, with the option of a 6-speed manual.

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Mini claims the Convertible can sprint to 100kph in a quick 7.1 seconds. Based on driving feel, this seems like a very conservative estimate. In-gear acceleration is just manic, given the size of the Convertible and the tight roads. But the added size has also improved its cruising abilities.

With an added 98mm in length, 44mm in width, and a wheelbase longer by 28mm, Mini has upgraded the Convertible's comfort and interior space. When you’re not in the mood and just want to get on with the driving with minimal fuss, this new car is less excitable and more refined. You can lose the top in 18 seconds even at speeds of up to 30kph, and you get 215L of cargo space with the top up, and 160L with the top down. Overall, it's a more fun yet equally more practical Mini. 

Day two saw us drive a slightly shorter sub-150km trip. The day’s highlight was a trip to Ubud, a very touristy town in Bali known for its artworks and is the main hub of commerce in the island. But before this, we dropped by La Costa Beach Lounge, a very picturesque seaside strip for some Javanese coffee. This was followed by a photo-op at Njana Tilem Museum which features the rich history, artwork, and architecture of Bali.

Our chosen steed was the Mini Cooper Clubman S. If the Convertible got bigger, the Clubman is almost supersized. It's 270mm longer, with a 100mm longer wheelbase plus 90mm more width. It’s a far more relaxed and comfortable daily driver. If you ever need a practical everyday Mini, this is it (until the all-new Countryman comes out).

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The Clubman shares its architecture with the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer. Which means that aside from the same 2.0-liter turbo engine found in the Convertible and the 2, it comes with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission which helps spread power even more. This also ensures a more relaxed and low-noise highway cruise. Despite its size, the Clubman still managed to cope with the tight streets in and around Bali with ease and confidence.

Mini is proud that the new Clubman has real seating for five adults. To top the practicality suit, you get an amazing 360L of cargo with the seats up, enough for three full-sized check-in luggage, and 1,250L with the second row down. But for me, the best part was the diamond-quilted leather seats, something very bespoke, very British, and an option you would normally only find in super high-end luxury cars. We ended our day at Katamama Resort and Potato Head Beach Club, the most exclusive club in Bali.

Day three saw us leaving in the evening for a midnight flight back home, but we still had time for some sightseeing during the day. The highlight of the trip was Uluwatu Temple, where numerous monkeys reside as revered animals. We were treated to a traditional Kecak dance performance of the Ramayana (the epic story of Hindus) at the temple, which was truly amazing and hypnotic at the same time.

Prior to our trip to the temple, we were able to really open up the taps on the Minis, as we drove around the newly-finished elevated highway connecting the main island of Bali to the smaller island where the airport is located. We had a chance to switch the Mini Driving Mode Selector to 'sport' for that go-kart feel. With special permission from the police, let’s just say that we went very fast!

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The cars were great, and the scenery was equally breathtaking, making the drive all the more memorable. Bali truly lived up to its billing as the 'Island of the Gods,' as the entire experience was glorious to say the least. We’re already excited for next time! 

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PHOTO: Mini Philippines
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