MINI Cooper

The original MINI Cooper debuted in 1959. The car combines the excellence of German engineering with a cool English body style that makes it stand out from other vehicles. It quickly became popular in European cities because its small body makes it easy to park on crowded areas. The MINI Cooper offers more than a tiny frame, though. It has enough pep to make driving fun and offers handling that makes drivers feel in control. The MINI Cooper also enjoyed brief popularity in the U.S. as a vehicle identified with the counterculture of that era.

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MINI Cooper Origins

After a rather long hiatus, the MINI Cooper reemerged in the U.S. in 2002, offering coupe and convertible styles. Instead of gaining attention from the counterculture, however, the new MINI Cooper (under direction by BMW) appeals to a wide audience as it has in Europe since its initial creation. The latest models pay respect to the aesthetics of the old MINI Cooper while honoring a commitment to excellent power and handling.

About the MINI Cooper

For those who have never sat behind the wheel of a MINI Cooper, the car gets attention for its quirky, fun appearance. Simultaneously modern and a retro, the MINI Cooper has an English style that stands out as a sophisticated design on American roads.

Those who have driven a MINI Cooper know this small car for its pep and handling. Despite its tiny appearance, it has plenty of power, which makes it fun to drive. Recent MINI Coopers also come with affordable sticker prices and offer excellent fuel economy. Overall, it earns recognition as a fine piece of engineering that offers fun and efficiency for the average driver.

MINI Cooper Features

The 2012 MINI Cooper comes in three trim lines: Base, S, and John Cooper Works. Buyers can also choose coupe or convertible versions.

The Base trim line provides the most affordable option. Even as an entry-level trim line, though, it comes with plenty of features that attract contemporary drivers who want extras when they purchase new cars. The Base includes full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, an adjustable driver’s seat, and a leather-accented steering wheel that can tilt and telescope for maximum comfort. It also has plenty of entertainment features, including a six-speaker stereo, HD radio, satellite radio, a CD player, and an auxiliary audio jack.

The Base convertible increases the wheel size from 15 inches to 16. It also adds a sunroof to the convertible top. Buyers can opt for a sport package that adds fog lamps, traction control, sport seats, and a rear spoiler. The sport package also includes 16-inch alloy wheels for the hatchback and 17-inch alloy wheels for the convertible.

The 2012 MINI Cooper S offers even more features. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels come standard, as do sport seats, alloy pedals, and a firmer transmission. Perhaps most importantly, though, the turbocharged engine adds significant pep to the small car (the Base contains a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that offers 121 hp, while the S has a turbocharged version that offers 181 hp). The S sport package adds xenon headlights, traction control, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The 2012 MINI John Cooper Works gives drivers even more power with an improved turbo engine (offering 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque) and an aerodynamic body kit. It also includes upgraded Brembo brakes that one needs to keep this speedy car in check.

Drivers who find more interest in fuel efficiency than power will want to choose the Base trim level, which gets an estimated 29/37 mpg city/highway. The 2012 MINI Cooper S also performs well in this area with 27/36 mpg city/highway. Even the more powerful John Cooper Works gets 25/33 mpg city/highway, so you really can't go wrong.

Despite the excellence of the 2012 MINI Cooper, picky drivers complain about a few things. The display, for instance, does not make much sense with its oversized speedometer. Sure it looks cool, but one has to wonder if form should overpower function in this case. The stereo and climate control also seem hard to use, especially while driving, because the button placement is not intuitive.

MINI Cooper Evolution

The MINI Cooper has a long history; since coming back to the U.S. in 2002, though, it has only gone through two generations (2002-2006 and 2007-2012). Both generations have their own particular designs, but either one undeniably conforms to the MINI Cooper aesthetics. Perhaps the biggest change concerns the improved ride for the second generation. The display and control buttons have also been moved to make them more useful (older models prove even more difficult to use). Overall, any of the past MINI Cooper versions offer exciting performance and a quirky style at an attractive price.

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