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2012 MINI Cooper

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2012 MINI Cooper Review

Mini drivers smile for a reason

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview
Since the brand's 2001 revival under BMW ownership, Mini has introduced the idea of a premium subcompact car to U.S. shoppers in a sporty, upscale, well-built package. Promising go-kart handling as part of its inherent quality, Mini has evolved its Cooper lineup to consist of a hardtop hatchback, convertible, and long-wheelbase Clubman.

Every Mini variant sold today includes a choice of three basic models: standard, S and John Cooper Works (JCW). As expected, each successive model receives more standard equipment, while also gaining more power and a more sporting state of suspension tune. The standard Cooper and Clubman receive a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter engine four-cylinder engine with 121 horsepower while the S and JCW treatments supply a turbocharged version of that engine and a sportier suspension setup, among other revisions.

Every Mini Cooper model features 'two-plus-two' seating, with a smaller rear bench seat for fitting up to four people in the car. With the Clubman, there is a third rear-hinged door on the passenger side to allow for easier entry and exit, making it much easier for adults to access the rear.

The Range

Body styles: Hatchback, convertible
Engines: 1.6-liter inline-4, 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Models: Standard, S, John Cooper Works (Cooper and Clubman)

What's New

A new customization program called Mini Yours is now available for the Mini Cooper and Clubman. Leading the way for bespoke options is an available instrument panel covered in stitched two-tone leather, a two-tone leather steering wheel, exclusive 17-inch wheels, caps on the door mirrors patterned after soda caps, and unique lounge leather seating surfaces with pinstriping and a soda-cap-inspired design in the headrests. Cosmopolitan floormats will come standard in all U.S. Mini Coopers, and JCW cars will have a standard aero kit. Lastly, if you're lucky enough to have too much money lying around, a $52,000 version of the Mini Cooper will be coming to U.S. shores later this year. The limited-production Mini Cooper inspired by Goodwood comes with materials taken from Rolls-Royce. Only 140 are headed our way.

Exterior

The Mini features tidy, cute good looks that are distinctly tied to the car's heritage. The coupe can take on quite an aggressive appearance with a few factory options or the optional JCW trim package. The Clubman's silver rear trim around the taillights and door frames, in addition to the side-hinged rear doors, adds a retro look to an already very retro-inspired car.

Interior

Carrying a cheeky, retro look to the interior, the materials are plenty nice for the premium fare. But much of the chrome switchgear, large tachometer front of the driver, and speedometer in the center console sacrifices function for form. Front seats are comfortable, but don't expect the same level of space in the rear. Options include a cold-weather package, premium package with dual-pane sunroof, and convenience package with many features that will start up with the key still in your pocket. Mini offers a variety of luxury options often found on BMWs -- with BMW-like prices on many of them.

Performance & Handling

On the road, the standard Cooper features lively, if not rapid, acceleration and quick steering that gives the impression of a large go-kart. The Cooper S is even more so, with its turbocharged engine and stiffer suspension. Power in the Cooper S comes by way of a 181-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Beware though, the Cooper is relatively firm to begin with and in 'S' tune, can be quite harsh over poor pavement. The longer Clubman offers the most composed, comfortable ride of the group. JCW cars turn it all up to 11 with a 208-horsepower version of the same 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and aero enhancements.

Safety

All Mini Cooper coupe and Clubman models feature standard front, side, and side curtain airbags. The Mini Convertible features front and side airbags. Stability control and traction control are standard in all Minis.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mini Cooper; manual transmission: 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway
Mini Cooper; automatic transmission: 25 mpg city/33mpg highway
Mini Cooper Clubman; manual transmission: 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway
Mini Cooper Clubman; automatic transmission: 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway
Mini Cooper Convertible; manual transmission: 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway,
Mini Cooper Convertible; automatic transmission: 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway
Mini Cooper S and Mini Cooper S Convertible, Mini Cooper Clubman S; manual transmission: 26 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
Mini Cooper S, Mini Cooper S Convertible, Mini Cooper Clubman S; automatic transmission: 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway
John Cooper Works (Cooper, Clubman): 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway

You'll Like

  • Nimble handling
  • Classic style
  • Fuel efficient, rev-happy engine
  • Clubman practicality
  • Low base price to get into a convertible

You Won't Like

  • Average automatic
  • Quirky interior
  • Options quickly drive up price

Sum Up

Mini drivers smile for a reason

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Fiat 500
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Volkswagen New Beetle
  • Volkswagen Golf

See the New 2014 Cooper.

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