New 2012 MINI Cooper Base Reviews
Overview:The Mini Cooper delivers agile handling, crisp performance and an interminably cute bulldog appearance in a tidy, efficient, front-wheel drive package, with plenty of space and comfort for front seat passengers.
The number of Mini Cooper body styles has expanded to include Hardtop, Clubman, Coupe, Convertible, and Roadster versions, all similar in terms of mechanicals, structure, front sheetmetal, and interiors.All ride on the same 97-inch wheelbase except the Clubman, a stretched version that rides on a 100-inch wheelbase.
The styling of the Mini Coopers was freshened for 2011 with new bumper, tail light and wheel designs.The front ends were also reshaped to meet new requirements for pedestrian safety.
For 2012, updates for the Mini Cooper models were confined to cosmetics, including a new line of trim options aimed at giving owners more opportunity to individualize their cars.Offered as a new collection of custom options called Mini Yours, the choices include a two-tone leather-clad instrument panel with fancy stitching; a two-tone leather steering wheel; Soda pattern Lounge Leather upholstery; 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels; and new interior and exterior colors.
The 2012 Mini Baker Street and the Mini Bayswater are special edition Hardtop models with expressive design features and exclusive equipment influenced by contemporary London style as the city prepares for the Olympic Games.Mini Baker Street is oriented around the fresh, youthful style of the brand, and comes with the 118-hp Mini Cooper engine.Mini Bayswater is focused on the sporting verve and agile handling for which the Mini is renowned and is available with either the Mini Cooper engine or the 172-hp Mini Cooper S engine.
The Mini Coopers are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine available in three levels of power output.All Minis are available with an optional 6-speed automatic.
The Mini Cooper models come standard with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque.This engine works best with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, which adds to the sportiness and makes the Mini Cooper fun to drive.Acceleration performance isn't quick but it's adequate.The Mini Cooper delivers excellent fuel economy, earning an EPA rating of 29/37 mpg City/Highway, or 28/36 mpg with the automatic.Premium gasoline is required, however.
The Mini Cooper S models come with a turbocharged version of the same engine that generates 181 horsepower and a substantial 177 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the world's most powerful engines for its size.All the Minis are fun to drive, but in Cooper S trim they deliver exhilarating performance and nimble handling that's most easily appreciated on a twisty back road.With all that torque, this engine works well with the automatic though we still prefer the manual for sportiness.In spite of the significant performance difference, fuel economy is still excellent, earning an EPA-estimated 27/35 mpg or 26/34 mpg with the automatic.Premium gasoline is required.
The Mini Cooper Hardtop is quite practical when viewed as a two-seat car with cargo capacity.The front seats are very comfortable and supportive seats, and they are large enough to accommodate all sizes of drivers and front passengers.With its hatchback and folding rear seats, the Hardtop can haul reasonable amounts of gear.It has a two-place rear seat, but it is hard to climb into and offers very limited leg room.The back seats are best left for small children or, better yet, stuff.
Those who want more room might choose the Mini Cooper Clubman, which is essentially a small station wagon.The Clubman is 9.4 inches longer overall than the Hardtop, and 3.2 inches longer in wheelbase.The extra wheelbase converts to more rear legroom, making it more practical for rear-seat passengers.Access to the rear seat is eased by a third, rear-hinged door on the passenger side.The Clubman also features side-hinged swing-out doors at the back, for easy access to the cargo area, though they don't improve the appearance.
A wide range of styling options allows owners to personalize their cars, and it's a major part of Mini's appeal.The choices cover upholstery style, material and color; exterior graphics; trim pieces; ambient lighting; and exterior paint, including contrasting colors for the roof.Functional options include high-end features like adaptive Xenon headlights, rear obstacle warning and a navigation system.The basic Minis are reasonably priced, starting under $20,000.Check too many options, however, and the ticket can soar into luxury territory, approaching $40,000.
The most expensive Minis are the high-performance John Cooper Works models.The JCW models play on the brand's heritage as a multiple rally and touring-car racing champion in the 1960s.With 208 horsepower, 192 pound-feet of torque and ultra-firm suspension tuning, the JCW package turns the Mini Cooper into a little hot rod, just the thing for charging up the Monte Carlo stages.The JCW package is available for all models (except the Mini Countryman crossover).For 2012, the Mini Cooper JCW performance package includes the aero body kit as standard equipment.
Mini Coopers offer a great combination of style, driving fun, low operating costs and practicality.Engineered by BMW, Mini Coopers come standard with as much safety equipment as any small car available.After starting in the middle with the Mini Cooper Hardtop the brand grew to add the Clubman and Countryman.The Mini Coupe sets its sights smaller with two seats.Although this is a new car we wouldn't go so far as to call it a new car: The mechanical hardware, front sheetmetal, majority of the body structure and much of the interior are shared with other Minis, this one merely has a different roof and an odd trunk.A Roadster version has been introduced, also.
The Mini Cooper Coupe is based on the Cooper Convertible underneath so any style of top could be fitted and headroom is maintained.Like many Minis, the Coupe is available in three flavors: the most economical Cooper, the quicker sporty Cooper S, and the fierce John Cooper Works.
The three engines, the 121-hp four-cylinder, the 181-hp turbocharged S version of the same engine, and the 208-hp Works engines are proven in Coopers.The primary advantage of the Coupe S over the standard Mini Coupe isn't so much the 60-hp bump as the additional torque and wider range.
We found both the 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatics work well with both of the standard engines (121-hp and 181-hp).The 208-hp JCW engine only comes with a manual.
Fuel economy for the standard Mini Coupe with manual gearbox is an EPA-rated 29/37 mpg City/Highway.Even the Works hot rod rates an impressive 25/35 mpg.
Agility has always been a Mini hallmark, one frequently equated with kart-like handling.Only a used Lotus Elise can match the Coupe's sharp reflexes for the money, and the brakes square up the package.Minis are all about motoring fun, and the Coupe excels at this.Plus, you instantly become a member of the Mini club and on the road you can wave at other Minis.
Any Mini driver will find the cabin familiar, with a few additions and revisions.Recurring styling themes with unusual controls and instruments highlight the space and it remains functional and surprisingly roomy.Electronic options ensure your Mini will be up to date and often feel merely an extension of your smart phone.
With multiple colors for paint, roof, stripes, upholstery and cabin contrasting panels, some unique to the Coupe, ordering one to choice could make it unique.Mini offers more than 16 factory wheel choices for the Mini Coupe.You can easily run the price up to the $35,000, however.
The Mini Coupe's performance will likely attract drivers shopping the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, and Porsche Boxster and Cayman, but we'd surmise some 370Z and Hyundai Genesis Coupe buyers might find the dynamics enticing too.Resuscitated and reinvented by BMW in 2001, the Mini Cooper line has grown and proliferated beyond the expectations of its parent company, and far beyond the vision of Sir Alec Issigonis, who designed the 1959 original.
The 2012 Mini Roadster is the sixth and most recent addition to the modern Mini lineup, a soft-top front-wheel-drive two-seater that's a first-ever model for the brand, BMW revival or original.It brings affordable sports car fun to a segment that previously consisted of one car, Mazda's MX-5 Miata.Although the Mini Roadster's price range soars higher than the Miata's, pricing for the next group of roadsters, all German brands, begins well over $40,000.
All the revivalist Mini variants were developed from the 2001 three-door Hardtop.However, the Roadster, as well as the recently introduced Mini Cooper Coupe, is more directly descended from the 2+2 Convertible.Coupe and Roadster were designed simultaneously, but the Coupe preceded the Roadster in the U.S.market by about four months, and immediately drew mixed reviews for its awkward looking roofline.
The Mini Roadster substitutes a conventional folding soft top for the Coupe's hard roof, yielding a look that's a little more conventional and distinctly more appealing.With the soft top stowed in the well behind the seats and the rear decklid spoiler deployed (automatic at 50 mph or more, but manually operable as well), the Roadster becomes a brawny little sports car with the active persona of a Jack Russell terrier.
Like other entries in the Mini Cooper collection, the Roadster offers three levels of engine power, all delivered by the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine.With direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, it's on the cutting edge of current internal combustion technology.The basic version is naturally aspirated, whereas turbocharging adds thrust to the variations offered in the higher-performing S and John Cooper Works (JCW) models.
Two transmissions are available for the basic and S versions, a 6-speed manual and an optional 6-speed automatic.The latter offers a manual operating mode, but is a conventional automatic.The more powerful JCW model is limited to a manual transmission.
Respectable fuel economy is a strong suit for all Minis, and the Roadster is no exception.Standard and S models both carry EPA ratings of 27 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway or 26/34 mpg City/Highway for the Mini Roadster S automatic.The numbers fall only slightly with the JCW version, to 25/33 mpg.
The Mini Roadster's soft top is stretched over a span of sheetmetal at its leading edge, which serves as a tonneau cover when the top is snugged down behind the seats.Top stowage doesn't subtract from trunk capacity, which is respectable by small roadster standards.The top secures to the windshield header with a single latch, and is easily raised and lowered by hand, though a power option is available.
Even in larger scale versions such as the Clubman wagon and Countryman crossover, Minis place a high priority on fun-to-drive, and the Roadster arguably delivers more of it than anything else in the growing lineup.It's quick on its feet, responsive, and eager, and the snug two-seat cockpit provides the sense of intimacy, driver engagement, and open air motoring that make roadsters so entertaining.
There are caveats, practicality foremost among them.Like any small two-seat convertible, the Mini Roadster's strong suit is driving entertainment.Considered as an all-around automotive implement, though, the elements that make it appealing as a driver's toy limit its usefulness for more mundane motoring chores such as hauling multiple passengers, bulky cargo, or both.
The suspension tuning that makes the car a blast to drive on a smooth stretch of twisty country road renders its ride quality distinctly unpleasant when the pavement is punctuated by warts, potholes, and sharp bumps.Also, wind noise stifles conversation above about 60 mph with the top up.
Nevertheless, the Mini Roadster rolls onto the sports car stage as an appealing new entry at the affordable end of the two-seat spectrum, with the same blend of sassy styling and snappy handling that separates all Minis from the herd.
All Mini Cooper cabins are charming with excellent finish.The plastics have a quality look and feel.This also goes for the base Leatherette upholstery (vinyl).Multiple leather options are available, including a cloth and leather combination, a full leather option, and the glove soft Lounge Leather with contrasting piping, similar to classic British sedans.Ambient lighting is standard on most models, and it softly illuminates the door panels and footwells with subtle LEDs.The driver can change the color of the lighting across a spectrum from soft orange to crisp blue.
Despite diminutive exterior dimensions, Mini cabins are surprisingly spacious up front.Even a 6-foot, 5-inch driver can be comfortable in the front seat.The basic manual levers, controlling height, seatback rake, and front-rear travel, allow just about everyone to easily find a comfortable spot.
The Mini driving position is excellent.We found the seats comfortable for long-distance trips, and they're nicely bolstered to keep you in place when you inevitably hustle through the turns.The available sport seats are even better.
A round, plastic transmitter replaces a conventional ignition key.It slides into a slot next to the steering column, and the driver fires the engine by pressing the adjacent a start/stop button.The button is cute and inoffensive, but no more effective than a standard key.The optional proximity key allows the driver to leave the transmitter in purse or pocket and just press the start button.We'd prefer a traditional key, but that's not an option.
All models follow Mini's sporty tradition of a big, round speedometer in the center of the dash.The tachometer is mounted on the tilt/telescoping steering column, moving with the wheel as it's adjusted it up and down.The Convertible has a unique Openometer next to the tach.It tracks the number of hours you drive with the top down and displays the owner's enthusiasm for open-cockpit motoring, a cute feature.
Heating and air conditioning controls sit below the speedo, and they're straightforward in base models.The available automatic climate control system is cleverly configured in the shape of the winged Mini logo.The switch layout is generally effective, though sometimes it's a bit too clever.
The audio controls sacrifice ease of use for design symmetry.The tuning knob is centered with most other audio buttons at the bottom of the speedometer, while the volume control sits further down the center stack, closer to the HVAC controls.At first, you may find yourself changing the station when what you really want is to turn up the volume.The integrated design of the audio controls makes it nearly impossible to fit any aftermarket sound system, and the buttons are obviously plastic, with a matte-gray in finish, and detract from the otherwise high-quality interior appointments.
A retro touch, chrome toggle switches that look like something out of an airplane or racecar cockpit, are positioned at the base of the center stack to control the windows, auxiliary lights, and stability-control system.The toggles are duplicated above the rearview mirror to control interior lights, the optional sunroof and the Convertible top.The steering-column stalk switches for wipers and turn signals are pleasing to look and satisfying to use.
The navigation or Mini Connected systems add a rectangular 6.5-inch video screen in the central speedometer, with a digitally generated speed needle around its perimeter.Maps are stored on a built-in flash drive.Both Mini Connected and the full nav system add Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port, and they make it easy to integrate mobile devices.Audio can be streamed via Bluetooth, and album cover artwork and mobile-phone caller lists can be displayed on the monitor.BMW is a leader in this area.
Interior storage space is not abundant, but it's adequate.There are bins in the door panels, map pockets on the front seatbacks, a small center-console bin and an average-size glovebox.The glovebox can be cooled with the air conditioning, and it's enough to keep a bottled drink reasonably cool, or to keep chocolate bars from turning to mush.The optional Center Rail storage and fastening system replaces the standard center console with two aluminium rails running lengthwise through the middle of the interior.Various accessories, including cupholders, storage boxes, trays or armrests can be locked anywhere along the rails to the occupants' preference.
In the Mini Cooper Hardtop, the rear seat is barely habitable for adults, and only for very short rides.Access to it is anything but convenient.The Convertible has even less rear leg room, 28.1 inches compared to 29.9 inches, so adults or even children won't fit back there unless the front seats are moved far forward.
The Clubman offers more interior space.Its additional wheelbase length translates into additional legroom for rear-seat passengers, and those in back have more shoulder room, as well.The Clubdoor makes the Clubman's rear seat of the Clubman much easier to access from the passenger side.A slot was added on the door for 2011 that keeps the front seatbelt out of the way when rear passengers duck in.The third door is particularly handy for parents who need to deal with child safety seats.
The Convertible has the least cargo space of the Mini models.Room in the trunk doesn't change when the top is lowered, which is good, but there is only 6.0 cubic feet of space to begin with, which is bad, and hard to use, which is also bad.The rear seats fold down, and Mini claims that opens up 23.3 cubic feet of space.But that space is hard to get to, and big items won't slide in behind the front seatbacks or through the short trunk opening.In short, the Mini Convertible is an impractical car.
The Hardtop, with its large rear hatch and separate folding rear seatbacks, does better as a cargo hauler.With the rear seats in place, there's a miniscule 5.7 cubic feet of storage, enough for an airline roll-aboard and a brief case.But with the rear seats folded down, cargo volume expands to a readily accessible 24 cubic feet.That's more than enough for two passengers on long trip.
The Clubman provides a more usable 9.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and a shade-type, pullout cargo cover is provided.With the rear seatbacks folded, it presents a flat load floor and nearly 33 cubic feet of space.The Split Rear Barn Doors are hinged on the rear pillars and open out, providing wide access.
Forward vision is excellent in all Minis, at least when the road ahead is clear.Given the Mini's diminutive size, larger cars can block the view in the same way big SUVs can block the view from the driver's seat of midsize sedan.
Rear sightlines are good in the Hardtop.The Convertible has a couple of issues, however.When the top is down, the lower portion of the driver's rearward line of sight is compromised.With the top up, its corners block vision in the rear quarters.Backing out of a parking spot can be a challenge, making the Park Distance Control warning system an important option.In the Clubman, the line where the rear barn doors join is a bit of a distraction in the rearview mirror.The Coupe's cabin is pure Mini, which means unusual relative most cars.Pick any adjective in the realm of unusual, strange, odd, or quirky and it could easily apply.And like every Mini the cabin is centralized so it's easy to build left- and right-hand drive versions of it.
With ellipses and circles in most styling elements it draws the eye, and a closer look reveals it's well put together and not a sea of uninspired plastic.Upholstery is cloth, leather (artificial or real, contrast piped or not) or a combination of cloth seat centers and leather bolsters, and the Coupe offers two exclusives: Toffee and Punch.Door panel inserts and armrests have some soft-touch surfaces and Mini proudly proclaims that floor mats (both of them) are standard.
The Coupe gives up a little headroom to its larger cousins but our combo of 6-foot, 3-inch and 6-foot, 5-inch frames didn't have any issues.The front seats are reasonably comfortable, and the sport seats are up to the car's capability.The cushions are adjustable for height but not angle, so longer legs may find thigh support minimal and tend to submarine, sliding down and forward over time.The passenger's floor is flat and open, good for comfort and bracing oneself, while the driver's side has a bit more legroom and a good dead pedal for holding themselves in the seat.Your passenger may find even a sport seat not enough for an exuberant driving style, and you'll both want to get out and stretch after a few hours.
A tilt/telescoping steering wheel, shifter and handbrake properly placed ensure decent driver positioning and the pedals are nicely placed for fancy footwork if your shoes aren't too big.The optional center armrest, included with some packages and carrying audio inputs within, might present an obstacle to longer arms or elbow whether it's up or down.Laying the windshield back has a detrimental effect on forward visibility where undulating roads often required awkward neck twists to see the road around or under the rearview mirror, the quarter windows are of little benefit, and the marginal rear window is bisected by the wing most of the time.
Most switches and controls are black with white labeling, and the chrome rings on everything from shifter to tachometer are rarely flat so glare issues are minimal; we got blitzed only once from gauge glare bouncing off the outside mirror lens.Instruments and controls are bathed in deep amber at night, while door handles and ambient lighting get a rainbow of colors.
The tachometer is directly ahead of the driver and most of the scale can be seen through the wheel.It includes a digital speed display which is handy because the parallax error in the central speedo can be up to 5 mph and it's an awkward device to follow.The tach also has the display for miles, temperature, trip computer info and so on, and like the audio display in the bottom of the speedometer, polarized sunglasses sometimes affect legibility.
The huge speedometer has an orange flower-shape for fuel level that draws the eyes, and audio controls are the bottom.On cars with optional electronics the speedometer has a stubby needle on the outside ring, a TFT center display (not affected by polarized lenses) and the fuel gauge arcs across the bottom like so many pieces of candy corn.
Below that are the CD slot, ventilation controls, toggle switches for the auto-down windows, and door locks.The lock toggle does not correlate push-down with lock and lift-up for unlock, it just moves the locks to the other position whenever you move the switch.Further toggles are found overhead (mostly cabin lights and the rear spoiler) while stability and sport mode are pushbutton ears on the shifter base.
The navigation system is run via two buttons and a small rotary controller just behind the shifter, an arrangement that works better than it sounds.Menu logic and programming is much like BMW's latest iteration of iDrive, so all the bugs were worked out before Mini got it.
Mini's Connected system brings IOS 4.2 iPhone 3GS or 4, or Touch, or 6G nano, features into the car with a free iPhone app, and now works with Pandora and MOG as well.You can listen to web radio, have your Mini automatically tweet your approximate location and temperature while you're motoring and can have RSS or tweets read aloud to you.Since the iPhone et al have a stable platform with hardware and software by the same maker it is currently the only system for Connected.
No back seat implies a lot of cargo room, but a chunk of the area is covered structure.A lockable pass-through from the cockpit is big enough to get your laptop or compact backpack through but you may need long arms to retrieve it from the deep well without opening the hatch (which clears our tall testers).The only concealed cabin storage is in the glovebox and a small space within the armrest.We found a jack under the rear floor but no tire nor room for one.Inside, the Roadster maintains the retro Mini look that's part of the brand's success.The center of the dashboard is dominated by a speedometer the size of a serving platter, with the speed indicator tracking around its rim and the center devoted to an info screen, as well as a nav system in Minis so equipped.The tachometer straddles the steering column, which is adjustable for both steering wheel rake and reach.
There is a substantial quantity of plastic, but the interior materials are of high quality.Like the speedometer and tachometer, a bevy of toggle switches help the Mini retain touch with its distinguished past.The standard seats are comfortable, although the S and JCW models offer more lateral support and a sportier feel.There's a good range of adjustability, manual in all models, and several upholstery options.
The Mini forsakes a conventional ignition key for a round plastic fob that docks in a slot next to the steering column, and the driver fires the engine by pressing an adjacent a start/stop button.The advantage of this system is hard to perceive.This could also be said for the standard ambient LED lighting in the door panels and footwells.The driver can change the color across a spectrum from soft orange to crisp blue.
Heating and air conditioning controls reside beneath the speedo, well marked and easy to use in the basic Roadster, and automatic climate control is available.
Audio controls aren't quite as straightforward.The tuning knob is centered with most other audio buttons at the bottom of the speedometer, but the volume control is lower, closer to the HVAC controls.The standard audio system is good, but inevitably Mini offers a premium upgrade, one of a vast, almost bewildering array of optional features available for all models.
Elbow room is limited, but head and leg room are plentiful, even for tall occupants.Like most convertibles, the Mini has substantial blind spots in the rear quarters with its top up, and the smallish glass rear window limits vision directly astern.
If there's any disappointment inside, it's with the single-layer top, whose support bows are exposed.It seals well, but at speeds above 60 mph or so, wind noise becomes obtrusive.
Of course, the Mini product planners equate open top motoring with fun, and seem to think the only time it's acceptable to cover the cockpit is during monsoon weather.To that end, the Roadster, like the Convertible, is equipped with a gauge called an Openometer, which measures the time the car has been operated with top down, as an index of enjoyment.A piece of kit that might be useful for top-down motoring is a wind blocker, a Mini accessory that straddles the rollover hoops and mitigates but does not eliminate cockpit turbulence when the top is down.
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