Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mini Cooper S Hardtop: The British Compact Continues To Be In A Class By Itself


HighlightsMaintenance is included for 3 years or 36,000 miles. Over a three year period the Mini is slated to have the highest residual in the premium subcompact segment, according to ALG.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $36,895 (base price $21,300)

Seating Capacity: 4

Standard Safety Features: airbags; daytime running lights; ABS; cornering brake control; electronic brake force distribution; fog lights; a tire pressure monitoring system; and driveway lights; run-flat tires; heated outside mirrors; washer jets; rain sensing wipers; automatic headlights; and a remote keyless entry


Standard Equipment (base model): 15-inch wheels; a 3-cylinder engine; a 6-speed manual transmission; manually operated sport seats with lateral and thigh support; run flat tires; leather-like seats; manually adjusted front seats;  chrome grille; a leather tilt/telescopic steering wheel; aluminum foot pedals; a start/stop ignition turn-on switch; and toggle switch instrument controls

Upgraded Features Standard Features On S Model: 16-inch wheels; a 4-cylinder engine; a turbo charged engine; black mesh front grille; chrome fuel filler door; aluminum foot pedals; LED fog lights; roof and mirror caps in black; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; a front center armrest; real-time traffic information; and hidden dash storage

Optional Features: 17-inch wheels; an automatic transmission; cloth/leather-like seats; power folding mirrors; heated front seats; enhanced graphics; a panoramic roof; an automatic climate control system; a premium Harman/Kardon audio system; LED headlights with cornering abilities; white turn signal lights; a parking assist system; a keyless remote system; a rear view camera; satellite radio (1-year); heads up display; and a glass headliner with graphics


Trim Levels:

Cooper 4-Door Hardtop
Convertible
Countryman
Paceman
Cooper Works Countryman
Cooper Works Paceman
Cooper Works Roadster

Suspension System: MacPherson strut (front)/multi-link (rear) designed for performance

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker audio system AM/FM/HD

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

iPod connectivity: Yes
                                                                                                        
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder/121-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 27-city/38-hwy


What’s New: For the 2014 model year, the third generation Mini hardtop experienced a radical makeover, offering new engines, updated driver safety aids and features to make the occupants feel more interconnected to technology. And for the 2015 model year, the brand’s first four door hard top has been added to line up. The four door Mini costs approximately $1,000 more than its two door sibling.

Pros: Yes, there is a Cooper to appeal for everyone. The quirky and spirited hardtop coupe, which we reviewed, is available in both a base model and a S model, with either an automatic or a manual transmission. Fortunately, we got our hands on the turbocharged, 4-cylinder S model, which put out 189 horsepower. Unfortunately, the vehicle we reviewed was outfitted with the Mini’s optional automatic transmission. Yes, we would have preferred a true manual (not those automatic paddle shifters located behind the massive steering wheel). Even with that being the case, the Mini didn’t disappoint.

The optional sunroof in the Mini.

From the toggle-like race car switches to start and turn off the vehicle to the multiple extended adjustment ranges added to provide extra front seat comfort to the optional graphics spattered throughout the headliner to the oversized dual panoramic roof to the three driving modes to the round shaped colorful infotainment system to connectors for iPods, this quirky British-built vehicle provides loads of features to keep the occupants entertained.

Overall the driving experience in the spunky subcompact reveals its close ties with the BMW line. The Mini S not only handles well, but takes corners too, especially, when equipped with the new turbo charge 4-cylinder engine.

Cons: While we were enamored with this preppy looking hardtop coupe, there were some downsides. At first glance, the Cooper seemed quite affordable at starting price of approximately $21,000. However, when our test vehicle priced-out at $37,000, we found that to be quite alarming. In fact, such unnecessary features as a head up display, which duplicate items such as the speedometer on the windshield, shouldn’t even be offered on a subcompact regardless if it’s a premium vehicle.
Also being that this vehicle is a part of the BMW family the vehicle only gulps premium fuel.
Moreover, although the vehicle grew slightly during its makeover in 2014, its rear cabin is still only suitable for carrying small kids.
Lastly, there is no place for a CD player and we found it difficult to preset the radio stations. So with said, we assumed there was no place for this feature even with last year’s redesign and with the vehicle being more connected. CDs and technology no longer mix well together in the eyes of the Mini design team. (We must note an optional 6-disc CD changer is available).

Verdict:  For independent, free thinkers looking for a wow experience in a fun-to-drive customized British coupe, sedan or convertible, the Mini should be placed at the top of one’s car buying consideration list, especially if money is no object. In fact, the S model we reviewed, before adding on options, was priced about $3,300 higher than the base hardtop coupe. Conversely, when adding on options, one will surely notice that the price can easily go head-to-head with entry level models in the BMW line up.

Nearest Competition: Fiat 500

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