BMW has rebuilt the Mini Cooper, giving the British built retro hatchback a new drivetrain and a bigger, wider body. The entry level two-door comes standard with BMW's 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. The new car, which starts at $21,550 including shipping, is earning good reviews. Here's a sampling:
"The engine’s slender power band sits low in the rev range and is yoked to gearing taller than a skyscraper (at 100 mph in sixth, the tach reads just over 3000 rpm). So, the motor is markedly calm on the highway. Diligent shifting is required for maximum haste. Yet even when fully wound out, the three-pot remains baby-bottom smooth and emits only a pleasing gurgling sound and subtle turbo whistle. We recorded an average of 32 mpg -- 2 more than the old Cooper."
Article: Mini Cooper Hardtop
-- Car and Driver
"Rear seats are barely useable, as most drivers will have to push the seats as far back as possible to have a comfortable driving position. The front passenger won’t complain about the 41.4 inches of leg room and 40.3 inches of head-room. Cargo space is also plentiful at 8.7 cubic-feet of space with the rear seats up. A weeks worth of groceries could fit neatly in the trunk, but the rear seats can fold down to offer more space and peace of mind."
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"Even though the base-level Cooper's new engine is just a 3-cylinder, we thought it felt surprisingly eager when driven hard. With that said, it can feel a bit sluggish during routine driving. Whether it has a 3- or 4-cylinder engine, a base-level Cooper has always needed a little coaxing in order to pick up speed. Meanwhile, 4-cylinder Cooper S models are zippier and more eager to go fast, thanks to a broader power band and a smooth, quick-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission."
Article: 2015 MINI Cooper Hardtop: New Car Review
"We drove a 2014. Here's what made the strongest impressions:
1.5-liter, 3-cylinder engine: It joins a small but growing list of makers offering three-bangers, including Ford, Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz's Smart mini-minicar.
It's a fuel-economy play as automakers hustle toward an overall federal mandate of 54.5 mpg by 2025 models, measured in lab tests. (That's a window-sticker average of about 40 mpg in combined city/highway driving.)
The three-cylinder's 134 horsepower isn't an imposing number, but the engine's a willing soul and a throaty one. It has a laudable 162 pounds-feet of torque, much more than the four-banger it replaces, rated 121 hp, 114 lbs.-ft.
You'll soon forget it's an oddball engine. And even if you don't, what better car than the oddball Mini Cooper for an oddball three-cylinder?
We often used maximum throttle and still wound up with mileage in the high 20s in the burbs. Excellent by our lead-foot standards."
Article: Mini Cooper hardtop a gem
-- USA Today
"Mini's signature quick steering is still present, but the new setup doesn't feel as darty. The chassis is still stiff and responsive, with practically no body roll around corners. It's quick and agile, which came in handy many times while dodging stray dogs, chickens and islanders haphazardly crossing the road during our test drive. Variable ratio steering adjusts according to speed and driving style, requiring less effort in parking lots and tightening up around corners at faster speeds. The Mini's tight turning circle came in handy many times when pulling U-turns on narrow roads after missing poorly marked turns.
Suspension has been revised, and as a result, doesn't feel as teeth-chattering as before. Part of this is aided by the longer wheelbase, which absorbs the shock of the road a bit better. Still, after driving the base model with the sports suspension for a few hours of the many-rutted roads on the Isle of Enchantment, we felt like a well-played vibraphone."
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“There are aggressive Sport, Mid and relaxed Green modes to tailor your driving experience, but it was in Sport mode that we took this Mini to our test track.
Torque was good off the line and our Cooper Hardtop sprinted to 60 in a respectable 7.0-seconds. It felt great in the short run. However, the ¼-mile run proved more leisurely at 15.4–seconds and 92 miles-per-hour.
But the Cooper has never been about straight line kicks. The fun starts when you begin sawing the wheel back and forth. Suspension hardware remains Mini’s unique single-joint spring strut front along with a multi-link rear, but everything has been both lightened and stiffened, losing none of the go kart feel along the way. The electronic steering is quick, but a bit numb feeling.”
Article: 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop