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THE SCIENCE OF SPEED

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  • Drivers tested in the new MINI John Cooper Works Hatch with movie stunt driver Niki Faulkner at iconic Goodwood Motor Circuit
  • 370% increase in self-reported anxiety and 100% increase in average heart rate – this increase is nearly four times that reported when watching The Shining
  • Results show driving a fast car can create more excitement than jumping out of a plane or proposing to a girlfriend

Tests conducted by the University of Portsmouth reveal that driving a powerful car can provoke a more dramatic physical response than enjoying a rollercoaster ride or jumping out of a plane.

Working with MINI’s new John Cooper Works Hatch, launched this summer, scientists from the University of Portsmouth’s Sport and Exercise Science department ran a series of physical, psychological and physiological tests to measure the effect the car had on a selection of drivers and stunt driver, of Rush and Mission Impossible 5 fame, Niki Faulkner.

Putting their foot down at the iconic Goodwood Motor Circuit, the drivers’ self-recorded anxiety levels increased a massive 370 per cent from rest, whilst average heart rate increased 100 per cent to 181 beats per minute – this increase is nearly four times that reported when watching horror film The Shining or even jumping out of a plane, which has been recorded at 170 beats per minute.

Driving the new MINI John Cooper Works Hatch could even provoke a greater response than that of someone proposing to their girlfriend or even running a marathon.

Adrenalin makes us sharper as the drivers’ reaction times improved by an average of 6% after driving the MINI John Cooper Works Hatch, triggering the same effect as caffeine.

Dr Chris Wagstaff explains, “In situations of fear and excitement, the body reacts according to a combination of our thoughts and survival instinct – reactions are faster, our heart rate increases.

“This is part of the evolutionary fight or flight response humans developed many hundreds of years ago. However, in the absence of natural predators to trigger such responses, humans occasionally seek out risks or thrills. Being in a MINI delivered enough exhilaration to activate this response.”

Stunt driver Niki Faulkner says, “This is a little car that packs a big punch. I am used to driving fast cars but the MINI’s acceleration, power and handling definitely impressed me and this is certainly portrayed in the participant’s responses! I definitely felt more comfortable driving than being on the side line.”

With a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine and TwinPower Turbo Technology, the new MINI John Cooper Works Hatch achieves top speeds of 153mph, has 231 horsepower and reaches 62mph in 6.3 seconds.

Combined with a racing heritage and quality credentials of the latest MINI generation, the John Cooper Works Hatch truly is pulse-racingly hot on and off the screen.

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Key results:

  • The average heart rate increased by 100% when driving
  • The average heart rate increased by 80% whilst as a passenger
  • The maximum heart rate achieved as a driver was 181 beats per minute, and was 153 beats per minute on average
  • The maximum heart rate achieved as a passenger was 153 beats per minute, and was 127 beats per minute on average
  • From rest to being a passenger self reported anxiety increased by 288%
  • From rest to driving self reported anxiety increased by 370%
  • Average reaction time performance improved by 6% after driving
  • Average reaction time performance improved by 4% after being a passenger
  • The maximum heart rate of a rider during a rollercoaster ride was 155 beats per minute
  • The average beats per minute of someone jumping out of a plane was 170 beats per minute
  • The maximum heart rate of someone proposing to their girlfriend was 130 beats per minute

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