What Is it?
2014 Mini Cooper
What's Special About It?
It's always bittersweet when Mini decides to make the Cooper hardtop larger and more useful. On one hand, we'd like to be able to fit into the backseat when the need arises. On the other, we want the Mini Cooper to stay small, cuddly and chuckable (around turns) forever.
The redesigned 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback (now designated F56 in BMW's internal language) is longer and wider with an inch more wheelbase. Its hood also comes up higher. Its glass area is smaller, and the windshield is set at a less upright angle. We probably won't be able to see out of the cockpit as well (gads, Mini will even offer a rearview camera and automated parallel-parking assistant as options). And the new front end design results in a Mini Cooper S with a shell-shocked expression. What to do?
Well, the new engines look pretty appetizing on paper, and if they're equally good in the real world, that could be all the distraction we need.
The idea of a three-cylinder Mini Cooper is a little hard to swallow, but this big (for a three-cylinder), direct-injected 1.5-liter uses a twin-scroll turbocharger, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing and variable intake-valve lift to deliver 134 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 162 pound-feet of torque at just 1,250 rpm. These are huge increases over the old model (121 hp, 114 lb-ft). If Mini can coax out an appropriately melodious soundtrack, no one's going to count the cylinders. For what it's worth, we hear the inline-3 sounds kind of neat in the BMW i8.
The Cooper S, meanwhile, gets a much bigger engine than we'd expected. Its four-cylinder is 2.0 liters in displacement, and with the help of another twin-scroll turbo, it makes 189 hp at 4,700 rpm and 207 lb-ft of torque at 1,250 rpm.
"This engine is a very similar design to [the longitudinally mounted version] we have on the BMW 3 Series," Chris Potgieter, product manager for the Mini Cooper, tells us.
Moreover, the 2.0-liter turbo offers far more torque than any Cooper S, including the last John Cooper Works (which topped out at 192 lb-ft), has ever had at its disposal. And this should make the car far nicer to drive in the traffic outside the L.A. Convention Center.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all 2014 Mini Coopers (which are all front-wheel drive), and a six-speed automatic with a stop-start system is optional. A "Sports" version of the automatic is optional on the S and provides quicker shift times and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The suspension remains a familiar front strut/rear multilink arrangement, but given the car's increased size, it's likely a radical overhaul over the outgoing R56 Mini Cooper. Adaptive dampers are a new option for the 2014 Cooper S. They seem at odds with the car's apparent mission of simplicity, but if they make the Mini corner better, it'll be hard to complain.
What Edmunds Says: This will be a quicker Mini Cooper, for sure. We just hope it still likes to go around turns.
Engine (base model): Turbocharged and direct-injected, 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder
Power (base model): 134 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm, 162 pound-feet of torque @ 1,250 rpm (170 lb-ft on overboost)
Engine (S model): Turbocharged and direct-injected, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder
Power (S model): 189 hp @ 4,700 rpm, 207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250 rpm (221 lb-ft on overboost)
Gearbox: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Zero to 60 mph (claimed): 7.4 seconds (manual base model), 7.3 seconds (automatic base), 6.5 seconds (manual S), 6.4 seconds (automatic S)
Top speed: 130 mph (base), 146 mph (S)
Suspension: Fully independent, front struts, rear multilink
Steering: Electric-assist power rack-and-pinion
Wheels: 15-by-5.5 inches, forged aluminum alloy (base)
Tires: 175/65R15 84H all-season, non-run-flat (base)
Dimensions: 151.1 inches long, 55.7 inches high, 68 inches wide, 98.2-inch wheelbase
Track: 59.1 inches (base), 58.5 (S)
Curb weight: 2,605 pounds (manual base), 2,675 pounds (automatic base)
On-sale date: March 2014