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Wow that is really nice. I can't wait to get mine. As a former Cooper S owner, can I ask what the ride of the GTI is like relative to the Cooper S (which wheels did you have?)? Heck, can you just give us a comparison of the two cars from the perspective of power, handling, ride, etc.
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OK, I'll have to be quick as I'm at work
The obvious difference between the two is in the delivery. The Golf suffers from a slight amount of turbo lag when accelerating from low revs - it's only for a split second but the Mini just pulls hard from everywhere in the rev range. With the whine from the supercharger and the low down driving position you really feel you're going faster than you are in the Cooper S - but this constant noise can be come tiring on longer runs.
The Golf feels like a limo by comparison - 100mph feels more like 50mph and the acceleration is certainly there, it feels so civilised.
There's no escaping that the Golf is a bigger, heavier car and as such doesn't quite have the poise of the Cooper S, but it will hold it's own and I would say is better engineered. The adaptive steering takes a bit of getting used to, especially after the Cooper S, as it can be a little too light at low speeds.
My car is fitted with the standard 17" wheels, so I can't comment on the bigger 18"s. The ride in the Golf is far superior to the Mini. The Mini's big wheels and run-flat tyres meant it was a bit of a bone-shaker over motorway bumps and although well-damped it used to pogo a lot over ripples.
The Golf handles the bumps far better and is a much more relaxing place to be if you're planning a long journey.