Tom Crosby: Mini Cooper adds four-door model for 2015
Mini Coopers are some of the most easily recognized cars on the road, popularized in the 2003 hit movie “The Italian Job.”
Last year Mini Coopers were redesigned, making them bigger, faster, cheaper and more tech savvy. For 2015, a four-door (or hardtop) with a longer wheelbase and more space was added, with a base 3-cylinder engine, or turbo 4-cylinder S version, our test drive with a differentiating hood scoop, black mesh grille and dual center-mounted chrome exhaust tips. Heated side mirrors and automatic climate control are now standard. Minis retain their iconic image with their low ground clearance, elongated hood, and in the hardtops, extended length and wheelbase. Last year saw the third remake by BMW, which owns and builds Mini Coopers.
Inside, the redesign includes richer looking and feeling materials, a newly configured dashboard (the center speedometer and tachometer now sit behind the steering wheel) and cockpit space feels surprisingly ample, thanks to the sideways installed engine. Getting in, however, still requires some contortions for taller and heavier drivers due to roof overhang but once ensconced behind the wheel, the thrill begins. While not a sports car per se, the Mini Cooper has similar handling characteristics around corners and curves, gripping the road with confidence and stability with front-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension working with front/rear stabilizer bars. The six-speed German-built Getrag transmission, one of the industry’s most highly acclaimed, was simply silky smooth mating flawlessly with engine prowess, whether in gas-saving, normal or sport driving mode.
Options totaling $8,400 included 17-inch wheels, navigation, LED fog and headlights, dual moonroof, technological interfaces (Bluetooth, USB), leather seats, etc., plus greatly enhanced interior comfort and performance.
The base price caresses the wallet with a price nearly $3,000 less than the previous model. More than half a foot longer than the two-door version, the S still squeezes easily into tight parking spaces. The 8.8-inch dashboard screen warns drivers not to rely solely on driver assistance programs and provides information accessed with buttons and a BMW-like knob behind the shifter.
Separate knobs handle climate controls. A two-tone color scheme accented with chrome provides a nice look complemented with upscale fit and finish. Fold down seats add cargo space, but still remains smallish compared to other subcompacts. Three can squeeze into the rear seats, but it’s tight for normal-sized adults. A stop/start feature conserves fuel.
LIKES: Looks, handling, mileage, price, power, cockpit design
DISLIKES: Entry/egress, need for options, rear seat space
BOTTOM LINE: For those who love small, peppy and iconic
MINI COOPER S HARDTOP 4 DR
Base price w/destination fee $25,950
Vehicle weight 2,760 lbs
Wheelbase 98.2 inches
Length 151.9 inches
Width 68 inches
Engine 2.0 liter, in-line 4 cylinder, turbo
Horsepower 189 horsepower at 4,700rpm
Torque 207 ft.-lbs. at 1,250 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
EPA Rating 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway
Range 11.6-gallon tank, premium recommended
Performance 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years. View more reviews at http://www.nvdaily.com/columns/tom-crosby & http://www.nvdaily.com/columns/tom-crosby.