Spied! We Catch the 2014 Mini Cooper Testing on Pacific Coast Highway
Luck favors the prepared, and as it turned out, we were ready when we saw the 2014 Mini Cooper driving Southern California's Pacific Coast Highway at Point Mugu when we were evaluating vehicles for an upcoming crossover comparison. Overlooking the highway from a sand dune, our resident photographer Jason Davis snapped two distant pics of the 2014 Mini Cooper, which is expected to grow in size, increase efficiency, and add some features that should make the hatchback more user-friendly to the chagrin of Mini traditionalists. We'll explain that last point. The Mini Cooper has always been a two-door, except for the longer-wheelbase Mini Cooper Clubman, but if you look closely at the spy shots, you'll see a rear half-door, like the Clubman's. That will ultimately make it more usable, but it may come off cumbersome, like the old Mazda RX-8. We'll know when the wrapper is peeled off, but the Germans that own Mini are nothing if not pragmatic; we wouldn't be surprised if they're optional. Inside the 2014 Mini Cooper, we've already seen that the speedometer that has been in the center of the dashboard since the car entered the U.S. in the early 2000s will instead be moved behind the steering wheel. That may be more functional, but the quirky design Mini used as been a selling point for many people. It's also been a sore point in J.D. Power surveys. The 2014 Mini Cooper is expected to retain at least one four-cylinder engine, but it is likely to get a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder that's ostensibly half of the 300-horsepower engine that's in BMW's 335i. Like the current model, it will spawn a wide range of models, including the Countryman crossover's eventual replacement. Unlike the current Mini, it will also become the basis for a front-wheel-drive BMW city car that isn't likely to make it to the U.S. for some time, if ever, so a BMW rep told us. We don't always have such ready access to prototype vehicles like this 2014 Mini Cooper, but BMW has a testing facility in the area, and we caught the company on a good day. That, and Jason fortunately had a decent lens with him. Image credit: Jason Davis
When we stopped for a break during testing five compact crossovers for an upcoming comparison at Point Mugu...