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We test drive a Mini and Bentley — two Brit belters wired for fun


THIS road test couldn’t be any more British if we tried.

Borrow a Mini, zip around the Cotswolds for a bit, pub lunch, then return to Oxford via a farm shop. Important work.

The base three-door Mini costs £400 more than before — but it has £1,000 of extra kit

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The base three-door Mini costs £400 more than before — but it has £1,000 of extra kitCredit: simon thompson

The farm shop is owned by none other than Mr Jeremy Clarkson.

Which means lots of customers turn up hoping to meet the big man rather than actually buy a Scotch egg.

In case you didn’t know Jezza has filmed an eight-part farming show for Prime.

Next up, the pub. It’s called Caffeine & Machine and it’s a pit-stop paradise for petrolheads on the A422.

The burgers and Sunday roasts are delicious but you’ll spend most of your time Instagramming the customer car park.

Same punchy engines as before, same go-kart handling, same huge grip, same smiles per hour

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Same punchy engines as before, same go-kart handling, same huge grip, same smiles per hourCredit: simon thompson

My favourite? That’d be the 1964 Chevrolet Impala. Closely followed by the “Don’t be a d**k” sign on the way out.

Now we come to the point of this story which, of course, is Mini. As cool as ever, as fun as ever and now refreshed for 2021 and beyond with a new face and more tech.

As we all know, when something is “new and improved” the price usually goes up too. Them’s the rules.

But fair play to Mini because, yes, the base three-door Mini costs £400 more than before — but it has £1,000 of extra kit. More money, then, but also more value and I like value for money. I also like the nip/tuck.

Body-coloured panel on the front grille instead of the old black. Upright air inlets replacing the fog lights, which have been incorporated into the LED headlights. And the headlight housings are now black instead of chrome.
All little details but it’s amazing how it ages the old car.

The base car is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo petrol with 102hp

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The base car is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo petrol with 102hpCredit: simon thompson

The rear fog light — positioned low in the diffuser — is neat too, like a rain light on a race car.

Hop inside and you’ll immediately notice the 8.8in touchscreen and LED ring have been updated but otherwise it is typical Mini: Classy, cool and playful. Which brings me neatly to the oily bits.

Same punchy engines as before, same go-kart handling, same huge grip, same smiles per hour. A proper hoot.

The base car is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo petrol with 102hp. Or you can go 136hp Cooper. Or 178hp 2-litre Cooper S. Or 231hp JCW. Or ballistic 306hp Mini GP. Or pure-electric Mini E.

You’ll be pleased with any of them because they’re all proper little Minis wired for fun. And they proudly wear the Union Flag. I’ll drink to that.

Hop inside and you’ll immediately notice the 8.8in touchscreen and LED ring have been updated

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Hop inside and you’ll immediately notice the 8.8in touchscreen and LED ring have been updatedCredit: simon thompson

Mini key facts

MINI 3-DOOR HATCH

Price: £16,605
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power: 102hp, 190Nm
0-62mph: 10.3 secs
Top speed: 120mph
Economy: 50mpg
CO2: 122g/km

Bentley

THEY say size doesn’t matter. Or at least that’s what the girls say to make us feel better.

But in the case of the Bentley Continental GT Speed, size is everything. This thing is so powerful, the brake discs used to stop it from 208mph are the same size as the wheels on a Mini John Cooper Works.

The result is a car that is more nimble at low/medium speed, more stable at high speed and more playful if you fancy a bit of drifting

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The result is a car that is more nimble at low/medium speed, more stable at high speed and more playful if you fancy a bit of drifting

That’s a full 17 inches, darling. The biggest brakes of any production car in the world.

While we’re talking numbers, power from that glorious 6-litre W12 engine has been hiked to a comical 659 horses and 900Nm of torque.

Which is a lot of thrust for a supercar, never mind a four-seat limo. Now, I’m not sure if this is massive over-engineering or really exciting but Bentley has thrown everything at this car to make it — and I quote — the “most dynamic Bentley ever”.

The normal Conti already has four-wheel drive, air suspension and a 48V electronic anti-roll bar for unbelievably controlled and flat cornering.

The GT Speed adds rear-wheel steering and an electronic rear differential, among other tweaks, to turn everything up to 11.

The result is a car that is more nimble at low/medium speed, more stable at high speed and more playful if you fancy a bit of drifting. Yes, drifting.

Switch off the ESC, exit a corner enthusiastically and you can make the rear axle dance with a delicious dab of oppo.

But as mighty and mischievous as all that sounds, the GT Speed is pure Bentley inside. And by that I mean majestic.

The GT Speed adds rear-wheel steering and an electronic rear differential, among other tweaks, to turn everything up to 11

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The GT Speed adds rear-wheel steering and an electronic rear differential, among other tweaks, to turn everything up to 11
This motor has the biggest brakes of any production car in the world

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This motor has the biggest brakes of any production car in the world
Rob Gill turned up at Silverstone in a business suit and race boots to emphasise the GT Speed does two jobs

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Rob Gill turned up at Silverstone in a business suit and race boots to emphasise the GT Speed does two jobs

A fabulous fusion of artisan craftsmanship and cutting-edge electronics combined with the best seats of any car on sale today.

A Bentley engineer told me he drove a prototype to a race track in Spain for testing then drove it home again afterwards. The perfect grand tourer, then.

I turned up at Silverstone in a business suit and race boots to emphasise the GT Speed does two jobs. I shouldn’t have bothered. The car’s name says it all.

Bentley key facts

BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT SPEED

Price: £190,000
Engine: 6-litre W12 twin turbo petrol
Power: 659hp, 900Nm
0-62mph: 3.6 secs
Top speed: 208mph
Economy: 20mpg
Out: September

Bentley reveals its most expensive car ever the Mulliner Bacalar – but the £1.8million supercar doesn’t even have a roof





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