We drive the Mini Cooper Hardtop

Mini Cooper Hardtop

Mini has always been about fun motoring so when we heard that the new third generation Mini is coming out we were nervous that Mini would follow the path that many have taken with more heft and less fun. We managed to get our hands on a Mini Cooper Hardtop to see if the new car was still as much fun as the old car.

The exterior of the Mini retains the very familiar Mini look. In fact, it is hard for most people to recognize the new Mini as an all new car even though the 2014 Mini is 4.5 inches longer and 1.7 inches wider than its predecessor.

Longer wheelbase

The wheelbase has been extended by 1.1 inches to 98.2 inches, while the track width has been enlarged at the front by 1.7 inches and at the rear by 1.3 inches to a total of 59.1 inches in each case. Cornering agility and ride comfort benefit from these new dimensions as do the amount of space available to occupants and the luggage compartment volume.

The extended adjustment range of the front seats, a seat surface lengthened by 0.9 inches and a perceptible increase in shoulder room provide more foot space and freedom of movement as well as optimized entry comfort for rear passengers. Luggage compartment volume has been increased by 3 cubic feet to 8.7 cubic feet.

The larger exterior dimensions translate into more interior room although the Mini is still tight for four adults. Gone is the huge central speedometer which has been replaced with a round display that houses the navigation and audio controls. The speedometer and tachometer are now in front of the driver in the traditional location with a funky vertical fuel gauge.

Mini Cooper snazzy dash

The interior updates still retain the quirky nature of Mini but they are more mainstream now and the controls are easier to use now. There are some really nice touches like LED lights that change color when you adjust the climate settings that make the car feel special.

The biggest update has to be under the hood as the base Mini now uses a three cylinder turbocharged engine. The engine uses turbocharging, direct fuel injection, variable camshaft control on the intake and exhaust side and variable valve control to extract 134 hp out of the 1.5 liter motor. That is a 13 hp gain over last year's four cylinder engine. That engine is mated to your choice of a six speed manual or six speed automatic transmission.

Minis are about driving and should not even be ordered with automatic in our opinion. But we are in the minority as only 23% of the Coopers are sold with manual transmissions so our car came with the automatic transmission.

The automatic is a good one albeit not as much fun as a manual. The new 6-speed automatic transmission available offers improved efficiency, enhanced shift comfort and increased shift dynamics. These advancements have been achieved by means of elements such as a more efficient transmission control system, a more direct connection and optimized hydraulics.

The new engine is amazing and is a huge improvement over the previous engine. It feels much stronger than its 134 hp rating suggests and the turbo boost comes on quickly and early which makes it feel quick.

Mini claims that the car will do 0-60 in 7.3 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph which is terrific for a car that is rated at 29 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. The transmission is smooth and responsive but it is programmed to not listen to the driver. It will upshift at redline and will not hold the gear and it will downshift when you floor it no matter what.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The new car retains the go kart feel of the Mini but it benefits from a much improved ride. Our car had the sport package and the previous Mini with the sport package drove and rode like a go kart with no suspension. The 2014 version, while it is no luxury car, rides comfortably enough to drive grandma to the store without hearing complaints while it is still ready to attack the autocross course. The basic structure is also much more rigid.

The Mini Hardtop prices start out at just $19,950 which is excellent. You get a premium small car for a bit more than what others are charging for their non-premium cars. Our car came with $10,000 in options which boosted the price to just over $30,000.

It seems like everything was optional as the options list included items like blue metallic paint, leather interior, power folding mirrors, heated seats, sunroof, automatic climate control, premium sound, parking assist, chrome line interior, storage pockets, LED foglights, and more. The Mini is a great bargain at $20,000 but if you are not careful you can end up spending so much more.

You should also be reminded that the base price of the cheapest BMW is now $32,000. We are glad that the third generation Mini is just as much fun to drive as the original while it is so much easier to live with every day. Just keep those options to a minimum.

Specifications

General
Body Style: Hatchback
Size: Compact
Market Segment: Sports
Weight: 2535 lbs

Exterior
Length: 146.6 in.
Width: 66.3 in.
Height: 55.4 in.
Wheelbase: 97.1 in.
Ground Clearance: TBD
Front Track: 57.4 in.
Rear Track: 57.8 in.
Weight Distribution: 60.4/39.6
Drag Coefficient: 0.33

Interior – General
Seats: 4
Passenger Volume: TBD
Cargo Volume: TBD
Cargo Volume (Seats Folded): TBD

Interior – Front Row
Volume: TBD
Leg Room: 41.7 in.
Head Room: 38.8 in.
Shoulder Room: 50.3 in.
Hip Room: TBD

Interior – Second Row
Volume: TBD
Leg Room: 27.9 in.
Head Room: 37.6 in.
Shoulder Room: 44.7 in.
Hip Room: TBD

Propulsion
Fuel Type: Gas
Engine Type: 1.6L I5
Power: 121 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 114 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Highway Fuel Economy: 37 mpg
City Fuel Economy: 29 mpg
Forced Induction: None
Direct Injection: No

Chassis
Layout: Front Wheel Drive
Front Suspension: Strut-Type
Rear Suspension: Multi-Link

Wheels
Front: 15" Aluminum
Front Tires: 175/65R15
Rear: 15" Aluminum
Rear Tires: 175/65R15

Trailering & Hauling
Trailer Weight: TBD
Payload: N/A
Tongue Weight: TBD

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