Review: 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

Thursday October 9th, 2014 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

By David Colman

Hypes: More Space, More Pace, Interior Upgrade
Gripes: Difficult Rear Seat Access

Until now, the base model Mini Cooper rang a death knell for fast driving. Its 1.6 liter four’s measly 131hp and 114 pounds of torque never unlocked the potential of the little car’s fabulous chassis. So when a base 2014 Mini Cooper arrived in my driveway, I wasn’t exactly planning a week of street racing with it – especially when I looked inside and saw that a power sapping automatic gearbox replaced the Mini’s always rewarding 6 speed manual. However, on my first stint behind the chubby, small diameter steering wheel, I realized something significantly different had transformed the performance of this base model from slug to swan.

In a subtle but near total revamp of Mini, the new third generation base model grows dimensionally in all departments except engine displacement. For example, length increases by 4.5 inches to 171.1 inches, width grows by 1.7 inches, height by 0.3 inches and weight by 140 pounds to 2,675 lbs. But the base model’s engine loses a cylinder and gains a turbo. Its 1.3 liter, 134hp, 162lb.-ft., 3 cylinder turbo makes more power (+15) and torque (+48!) than the larger 1.6 liter four it replaces. Not only that, it gets better mileage as well – 29 MPG City/41 MPG Highway ( versus 29/37). The improvement is instantly obvious to anyone who has spent time rowing a base model Mini through the gears trying to extract even modest acceleration.

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

The turbo 3 is really lively, even conjoined to an automatic 6-speed transmission ($1,250 extra). This transmission offers a manual shift gate which allows you to maximize engine boost. In over-boost condition, the turbo ups torque output to 169lb.-ft. Although the automatic transmission Mini seems like the perfect candidate for paddle shifts, they are not standard issue, so you need to slap the floor stick fore and aft to swap gears. And though you might manually select a gear – say second – to hold until further notice, the transmission will override your selection and up-shift automatically to 3rd due to rpm increase.

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

You will never notice the increased size or heft of the latest Mini unless you try to park it in a very tight space. In the greater scheme of things, this is still a very small sedan, with a turning circle of just 35 feet. The electrically assisted power steering is micrometer precise, and the all-season, run flat Pirelli P7 tires (205/45R17) inhibit squeal and pitch in turns thanks to their extremely short sidewalls. They’re mounted on appropriately named “Tentacle Spoke” alloys which give you the unparalleled opportunity to clean 20 spokes at each corner when you wash your Mini. These wheels comprise part of the $1,500 Sport Package, which also includes Sport Seats, LED Headlights, and white turn signal lenses. The new seats are a sensational improvement over anything Mini has offered before. They conform themselves to your body shape so thoroughly that you’ll never want to exit them at destination. When upholstered in the $1,750 “Leather Lounge Satellite Grey” finish of our test car, they look as sumptuous as they feel. Their contrasting cord piping is an elegant touch. Another optional nicety is the $350 extra “Cottonwood” dash treatment, which mimics the striated look of recycled barn lumber, and complements the Satellite Grey seats exceptionally well. In all, the new Mini boats a number of interior refinements that elevate it from steerage status to business class. In particular, the oversize central instrument face, which formerly housed a comically huge speedometer, has been rededicated to a number of useful functions including radio selection and navigation graphics. As a navigation screen, its 8.8 inch size is particularly welcome. The chrome ring which surrounds this central screen contains a series of LED bulbs that throb blue when you cool the interior or red when you dial up heat. It’s Mini-only insouciance at its best.

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

While you may rue the fact that Mini has grown dimensionally since its inception, you won’t regret the extra 8 cubic feet of interior cabin space the new model offers, or the 3 cubic feet of storage it also provides. Of course, accessing the increased acreage is problematic because, thanks to door/seat interference, you can barely slide your hand behind the front seat to tilt it forward for rear area access. At the very rear, Mini thoughtfully provides an under trunk floor storage bin which will keep 3 supermarket bags upright for the ride home. That is, as long as you don’t dial up the “Sport” setting on your Mini. If you do that, the big screen graphics read “Let’s Motor Hard!” and the pictograph shows your Mini as a combo go-kart/rocket ship. Follow that prompt and you’ll scatter those groceries all over the place.

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop

  • Engine: 1.3 liter inline 3, turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 134hp
  • Torque: 162lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 29 MPG City/41 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $33,095
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, MINI |Tags:, , , || No Comments »

Review: 2013 Mini Cooper S Paceman All4

Friday March 14th, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Exceptional Handling for an SUV
Gripes: Seats Harder Than Week Old Bread

The bottom line on the Paceman is 600 pounds. That’s how much more weight this enlarged capsule carries compared to the base model Cooper S (3,110 lbs. vs. 2,535 lbs.). Think of it as a maxi MINI. Imagine stuffing your base Cooper S with three 200 pound passengers. That kind of load numbs the quick response MINI has claimed as its birthright since 2003. The Paceman isn’t a slug by any means, but thanks to the laws of physics, its performance can’t compare to the immediacy of the original Cooper S. Now you might assume that because the Paceman is substantially larger than the Cooper S, it gains in practicality what it loses in zip. And the 4 door Paceman does gain an edge in that regard, since it’s 16 inches longer, 5 inches lengthier in wheelbase, and doubles the cargo space of the base MINI from 6 to 12 cubic feet. But our test Paceman, in 2 door coupe configuration, fails to maximize these gains because the rear seat is virtually inaccessible. The best option for owners of the Paceman coupe is to fold both rear seats flat and use all 12 cubic feet of interior space as a pickup bed. For example, this configuration would be ideal for transporting multiple canines in comfort.

Paceman shares the same turbocharged, direct fuel injected engine as the Cooper S. This potent inline 4 makes 181hp and 192 lb.-ft. of torque. A John Cooper “Works” edition is optionally available, with 208hp and 207 pounds of torque. Our test Paceman, configured with the base motor, returned 26 MPG in combined city and freeway driving. That’s excellent, considering that this test car also included all-wheel-drive, a $1,700 option that tends to decrease mileage. MINI-speak deems AWD “All4,” and emblazons that information on both front quarter panels. In addition to driving all 4 wheels, our Paceman benefited from a quartet of expensive optional 19 inch alloys (“Y Spoke Silver”) that added premium Pirelli P Zero tires (225/40R19) to the handling mix. At the expense of some comfort, these Pirellis, coupled to the 2013 Paceman’s standard sports suspension, made for an endearingly precise but bumpy ride. Note that for 2014, MINI has softened the standard issue springing and shocks, and made sports suspension a no-cost option.

The front seats were less gripping than a Hitchcock mystery. They’re flat and hard with little lateral restraint on offer. They were, however, heated, as part of a $750 optional Cold Weather Package that also provides power folding heated mirrors, and heated washer jets for the wipers. The configuration of the Paceman’s interior has been a MINI staple since the model line was launched more than a decade ago, and it’s getting long in the tooth. In particular, the huge analog speedometer occupying the center of the dash looks a bit overdone these days, since the same information is concisely conferred digitally with a readout in the tachometer located right under your nose. The “Comfort Access keyless entry” ($500 extra) is nice because the doors unlock automatically as you approach the Paceman. But once inside, you need to insert the lozenge sized fob right side up into its dash shot (which is hidden from view) before you can press the Start Button adjacent to the fob. The whole operation is too demanding of time and attention and makes you yearn for an old fashioned twist key.

Although the Paceman All4 may feel lethargic and tubby compared to a base Cooper S, you need to think of this package in different terms. You need to compare it to the bevy of more conventional compact SUVs available across the mid-price range. These invariably stand taller than the Paceman, and are thus much less fun to drive (and own), since a higher center of gravity impedes handling. These competitors also lack the immediate punch of the MINI’s turbo 4, as well as the sizeable footprint of its Pirelli boots. When you look at this highly specialized model line variant from that perspective, you’ll realize Paceman leaves your elixir goblet half full rather than half empty.

2013 Mini Cooper S Paceman All4

  • Engine: 1.6 liter inline 4, DOHC 16 valve, turbocharged, direct injection, Valvetronic
  • Horsepower: 181hp
  • Torque: 192 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 23 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $39,800
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, MINI |Tags:, , || No Comments »

Review: 2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop

Wednesday October 9th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: 420 Miles on a Tank, Motorcycle Base Price
Gripes: Hard To Reach Seatbelts, Pinchy Door Handles

Manufacturers usually load press fleet vehicles with every expensive option available, so it was quite unusual to spend a week with a Mini Cooper virtually bereft of extras. With a base price of just $19,700, the Cooper hardtop is good value for the money. Its fun-to-drive quotient places it in the top echelon of sub $20,000 sedans. What extras it did have were well chosen. Instead of the standard 175/65 R15 tires and wheels, ours was equipped with the very reasonably priced ($1,250) Sport Package which upped wheels to 16 inch, 6 star-spoked alloys shod with 195/55R16 Bridgestone Turanza ER300II run-flat rubber. The Sport Package, which brings the as-delivered price to $21,650, also includes traction control, sport seats, and rear spoiler. For the driving enthusiast on a budget, this Mini represents a stellar bargain.

The sports seats are more supportive and better looking than those of any car in this price range. Finished in ballistic nylon weave, they afford more latitudinal support than the tires can generate. Their center sections contain black-on-gray Op Art swirls reminiscent of checker flags. The seats are emblematic of the whimsical character of the interior, which looks like it was designed by Disney Imagineers in Toontown. Circles and ovals cover every square inch of the dash. The circular air vents echo the shape of the free standing 8,000rpm tachometer. The door handles, speaker grills, even the keyfob are perfect circles. Oval shapes dominate the pedals, mirrors, dash face and overhead console. Square edges hardly exist. Mini eschews cheap materials in favor of quality finishes. The pebble grained dash top and door panels are finished with a matte sheen that eliminates window reflections. The aluminum trim across the face of the dash matches the subdued finish of the dash. The Mini looks and feels like a BMW inside because BMW own Mini.

The Mini is rewarding to drive because its steering is so precise. It reacts to directional change like a go-kart. Although ride quality is choppy over pavement imperfections, the stiff springing pays dividends on twisty roads. When you feed lock into the fat rimmed steering wheel, the Mini instantly acknowledges your input. This 2,712 lb. hardtop is one of the lightest cars on the market, and its telepathic dexterity is a product of that minimal curb weight. The engine in the base model Mini is adequate, but not impressive. With just 121hp available, you’ll find yourself using the 6-speed manual gearbox like a jockey resorting to the whip. The anemic torque output of 114 lb.-ft. occurs at 4,250rpm, so you’ll work hard for your quotient of zip in the base Mini. A better option might be the 181hp, turbocharged Mini Cooper S, which turns this racing striped little box into a raging pit bull. Of course, you’ll pay substantially more for the privilege (Cooper S base price: $24,750), and you’ll forego the base Cooper’s excellent fuel economy of 32 MPG overall, for 27 MPG with the S model.

The Cooper has been a sales sensation for more than 10 years now. Customization is a large part of its attraction. You can order your Mini 10 million different ways. No other car comes close to matching this virtually unlimited differentiation. The Mini is very much the Swatch Watch of the car world. It’s high quality appearance belies its cheap price. Just when you think you’ve seen every Mini available, along comes a new combo that makes you marvel at this company’s endless design savvy. But the best part of the Mini experience comes from the maxi enjoyment you get out of driving one. Mini represents a throwback to an age of car design that depended on resourcefulness and imagination rather than tunnel vision. In that way, Mini puts the fun back in motoring.

2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop

  • Engine: 1.6 liter DOHC, 16 Valve inline 4 Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 121 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 114 lb.-ft. @ 4,250 rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 29 MPG City/37 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $21,650
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

Posted in Expert Reviews, Feature Articles, MINI |Tags:, , || No Comments »

Pebble Beach Concours – 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe

Tuesday August 23rd, 2011 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2012 MINI Cooper S Coupe

On display at the MINI booth at this year’s Concours d’Elegance is the 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe, MINI’s new 2-seater that looks to inject even more driving fun into the MINI line-up. The Coupe becomes the fastest MINI available and purports to offer even more agile handling than the already nimble Cooper.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in MINI, Press and News |Tags:, , , , || 1 Comment »

2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 Review – Out and About in the Country

Tuesday May 3rd, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Posted by: gmchan_66

2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4
Review by Gary Chan


  • Great fuel economy
  • Sure footed all-wheel drive handling
  • Sport mode that really increases responsiveness


  • Center rail is intrusive and limits loading options
  • Engine noise from the turbo-4 when accelerating
  • Premium sticker price for a non-premium car

I finally had the opportunity to drive a MINI and this one had 4-doors and all-wheel drive! Boy was this car an attention getter. Wherever I went it garnered comments and stares: my neighbor remarked, “I’m jealous … yours looks more aggressive than mine [2-door Cooper S].” People at church stopped to assess the body and look at the interior, and one kid jumped in and said the interior was “cool”.

Read the rest of this entry »

page 1 page 2

Posted in Expert Reviews, MINI |Tags:, , , , || 2 Comments »

MINI Cooper SD Diesel for the European Market – The U.S. Can Only Dream

Tuesday February 8th, 2011 at 9:22 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Mini Cooper SDMINI has announced the MINI Cooper SD, a diesel version of their popular S performance model, which will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The MINI Cooper SD will include a diesel particulate filter and an oxidation catalytic converter for cleaner emissions and will offer the best performance and economy of the line. The new MINI Cooper SD also features a 2.0-liter turbo diesel, four-cylinder, 143-horsepower engine, a six-speed manual with an optional six-speed automatic transmission, Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start/Stop, Shift Point Display, and Electric Power Steering.

Will this fuel efficient, cleaner emissions car come to the U.S.? MINI has yet to make a final decision on a diesel-powered model for the U.S.  So for now, we can only dream.

Video and photos after the jump

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in MINI, Press and News |Tags:, , || 1 Comment »

MINI Unveils Countryman Crossover

Tuesday January 26th, 2010 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: michael.leroy

MINI Countryman
The MINI grows up.

BMW announced last week that a forth car is going to be added to MINI’s line up in early 2011. The new model is named the Countryman and it will be a crossover with optional all wheel drive. The new model will be the first from MINI that has five-doors.

The Countryman measures 161.3 inches in length and has a wheelbase of 102.2 inches. Compare that to the Mini Cooper’s 141.6 inch length and 97.1 wheelbase. The rather small increase in size means that the new model is not nearly as big as a standard crossover. A Chevy Equinox is almost two-feet longer than the Countryman. Ground clearance is higher than the standard MINI, but don’t expect to do any off-roading.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in MINI, Press and News |Tags:, , || No Comments »

2009 MINI Cooper S Review

Tuesday September 8th, 2009 at 1:99 PM
Posted by: peter

>> Review by Peter N. >> Photographs by Derek Mau


  • Small, zippy driving experience
  • Cool cockpit design
  • Good iPod integration
  • Low road noise


  • Ultra-stiff suspension setup
  • Small trunk
  • No rear leg room

I recall on one of my first trips to Europe coming across a Mini Cooper parked in the street. I was awestruck that anyone would sell, let alone buy, such a small car. We took photos of it to prove to our friends how small European cars were. It really lived up to name. This was back in the 80′s, so it was one of the “original” Mini Cooper designs. Ever since BMW re-launched the MINI Cooper line in 2000, I’ve always wanted to see how the brand that builds the ultimate driving machine would recreate an ultra-small British car. As it turns out, just about what you would expect: a small but very sporty car that is simple, but well done.

Read the rest of this entry »

page 1 page 2 page 3

Posted in Expert Reviews, MINI |Tags:, , || 3 Comments »

The MINI Coupé Concept at Frankfurt Motor Show

Friday August 28th, 2009 at 2:88 PM
Posted by: m35man

MINI Coupé Concept

BMW is calling the new MINI Coupé Concept as “an expression of MINI design and the great ability of the brand’s designers to fill the elementary values of the brand with new life, using the options of modern drivetrain and suspension technology, and developing fascinating perspectives for the future of the brand on this basis.”

We see a horde of MINIs here in San Francisco. For major pickup on the hills; squeezing into tight parking spots and a fast, little darter with class and style, the MINI is a huge deal with drivers in the 20-35 age range. I’ve even seen quite a few post-60ish folks in MINIs. These cars represent a very solid merging brand in the Bay Area overall, evident by seeing a ton of them on the highways and roads of Norther California.

The new Concept Coupé is taking the MINI to the maximum, attempting to attract even more career-conscious drivers in their 20′s and 30′s. Corporate types and mid-income rangers alike enjoy the body style, the great mileage and performance. Fast AND green–they love it!

More photographs after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in MINI, Press and News |Tags:, || 1 Comment »

Diesel Mini To America, Eventually

Tuesday February 17th, 2009 at 9:22 AM
Posted by: tonyb

MINI Cooper diesel

Even though BMW’s well loved Mini is selling well, and the all electric version is selling better than their expectations, Mini can’t get off the dime and bring the diesel version to these shores, even though it’s been available, and selling quite well in the Euro markets. Why? First off, it’s the diesel engine. The current diesel in the Cooper D isn’t deemed clean enough for U.S. emissions regulations. Initially Mini suggested a modified version of the Cooper D could make the trip to America, company spokesmen now say it might have to wait until the next-gen clean-burning diesel can be developed for the MINI.

Drat! But I can see the engineering conundrum that Mini, and by extension, BMW face. Sure, BMW has a whole bunch of really nice diesels, and all of the modern ones burn very clean, but all you have to do is look in the engine bay of a 5 series Beemer, and into the shoe box they use for the engine compartment in a Mini and you know there’s going to be fitment issues up the kazoo. And remember, diesels are bulky little mills to begin with.

Another problem facing the Mini D (And all other diesels in the U.S.) is the price of diesel fuel which, for reasons beyond me, is kept artificially high via taxation.

Mini has a rationalization about this, of course. They point out that the price difference between premium gasoline their vehicles require and ordinary diesel is actually quite a bit more manageable. Also folding into the personal auto balance sheet is the operating cost of the Mini D. Those little brutes get SIXTY miles per gallon according to tests run in the U.S. by Bosch, so even though the fuel is spendy, owning one overall is not.

Source: AutoBlogGreen

Posted in BMW, MINI, Press and News |Tags:, , || 3 Comments »

« Previous Entries

Latest Reviews

Select a Category