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 models were freshened a bit front and rear for 2011.The updates include new bumper designs and tail lights, and five new wheel designs.Also, the front ends were reshaped, primarily to meet new requirements for pedestrian safety.
The Mini Convertible closely resembles the standard Hardtop, and matches its dimensions.The soft-top maintains the same basic silhouette as the Hardtop, though the heated glass rear window is tilted farther forward.The rear side windows are about a third of the size of those on the Hardtop because the cloth top wraps farther around the sides of the car.When the Convertible top is down, it stacks at the back of the car.The look is fine, but it blocks the driver's lower line of sight to the rear.
The Convertible's insulated fabric roof opens at the touch of a button in just 15 seconds at speeds up to 18 mph, which is very convenient.There are no latches to unhook, simply press the button.A sliding roof function opens just the portion of the top that's over the front seats.It's like a big sunroof that can be opened at speeds up to 75 mph.
The Clubman is identical to the Mini Cooper Hardtop from the front bumper to the back of the doors.Of its 9.4 inches of added length, 3.1 inches are located behind the doors and in front or the rear wheels, increasing rear legroom by a roughly equal amount.Another 6.3 inches are found behind the rear wheels, for more cargo space, but the Clubman still manages to keep a wheels-pushed-to-the-corners look.
The two biggest changes with the Clubman, compared to the Mini Cooper Hardtop, are the substitution of split rear barn doors at the back and the addition of a rear access door on the passenger side.The right-side access door, called the Clubdoor, is a rear-hinged demi-door that doesn't open independently of the front passenger door and provides easier access to the back seat.At the rear of the car, the handles for the split rear doors are placed together where the doors join.The rear glass is fixed and does not open.
Mini Cooper S models are distinguishable from the standard versions, no matter the body style.Black mesh grilles replace the shiny bars, lower brake ducts with optional chrome frames guide cooling air toward the brake discs.Most noticeable is the chrome-ringed hood scoop on Cooper S models.
The current group of Minis represents the second generation of the re-launched brand, but Mini heritage dates to the late 1950s.The original was a landmark design by Alec Issigonis for the British Motor Corporation.With its transverse front engine, front-wheel drive and surprisingly roomy interior, it changed the game in minimalist transportation.It became even more famous for winning the Monte Carlo Rally.Production of the original Mini finally ended in the 1990s.
BMW revived the marque with a totally new Mini Cooper in Europe for the 2000 model year.It was completely redesigned for the 2007 model year.The Mini Coupe looks like a Mini Hardtop that got whacked on top with a big hammer.The company calls it a helmet shape and we don't disagree, though it's more fire or military style than automotive crash helmet.The Coupe is actually longer than a standard two-door Cooper but more than an inch lower.Looks can be deceiving and the Coupe appears distinctly sportier.
From head-on the Coupe looks nearly the same as a Cooper hardtop.Hood, lights, grille and bumper are all the same; the changes include a fractionally longer front spoiler to maintain aerodynamic balance, and a windshield laid back 13 degrees further, yielding a roof that's 1.25 inches lower than that of the hardtop.All the examples we saw had daytime running lights using the headlight elements.
Up to the glass area the rear styling will look familiar, too, with similar vertical lamps and, on turbocharged cars, central dual exhaust.Atop the trunk is a wing that automatically pops up at 50 mph and retreats at 37 mph; it can be deployed at lower speeds or left that way for cleaning by pressing a button.
The side windows are frameless as in all other Minis except the Countryman, and the windows drop slightly at door open and rise at closing for a better seal.Aft of the doors is a small quarter window; no use for looking through but it preserves the styling.Beyond that the rear glass sweeps in and around to near the wing, like a clamshell.With black and glass concealed pillars, the roof is visually floating over the cabin.
At the back of the bubble top is another wing, this one fixed and slotted.It serves to aid high-speed stability both on its own and by funneling air to the rear wing, and to keep the rear window clean and avoid the expense and added drag of a wipe/wash system.Raindrops still hit the glass at slow speeds and while parked, but rear visibility isn't good enough to lament any missing wiper.
The Coupe models can be distinguished by badging, wheels, central exhaust, grille and brake duct openings and an S scuttle (the chrome trim ahead of the doors that also houses signal repeaters).Although it has only two seats, the Mini Roadster has the same wheelbase and foundations as the four-seat Mini Cooper convertible.Its width-to-length-to-height proportions give it a scrappy, action-ready look.The summit of its soft top is about three-quarters of an inch lower than that of the 2+2 Convertible, and a smidge lower than the Coupe, making it the lowest roofline of all Minis.
While the rear deck seems to end abruptly, there's more room in the trunk, 8.5 cubic feet, than in the cargo compartment of the Convertible (6.0 cubic feet), though the Convertible's rear seats fold forward to expand capacity.The Roadster's trunk features a square pass-through opening that allows occupants to stash small items without having to stop and go around to open the deck lid.
The front end is unmistakably Mini, and the steeply raked windshield, shared with the Mini Coupe, contributes to the Mini Roadster's sports car chops, as do the twin stainless steel rollover hoops behind the seats.They're in fixed position here, as distinct from the pop-up hoops in the Mini Convertible.As with the Coupe, the a wing pops up from the rear decklid when the Roadster hits 50 mph, re-stowing itself below 37 mph.The wing generates rear downforce, lending stability as speeds climb, but in our opinion its contribution to the car's appearance is just as significant.The wing can also be deployed at the driver's command, mitigating the chopped-off look of the rear end.
A set of 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels is standard on the basic and S versions of the Coupe, with 17-inch wheels optional and standard on the JCW.
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