The Mini Coupe is one of those cars we just can't figure out. On the one hand it's a small, sporty, 2,700-pound toy with cool looks and decent power. On the other hand, it's more expensive and, at least in John Cooper Works trim, marginally heavier than a Mini Cooper, which offers significantly more functionality.
In our First Drive of the 2012 Mini Coupe John Cooper Works, we said "...none of these things explains why the 2012 Mini Coupe disappoints. It's not about what it does, right or wrong. It's about what it does not do, namely provide you with a single serious reason to choose one over the standard hatchback."
But we weren't ready to give up on it then. We had to get it in our hands and on our track to see if the sporty looks carried over when this thing was really pushed and if it would be enough to warm us to the little coupe. Follow the jump for the full details on the Mini Coupe John Cooper Works.
Vehicle: 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe John Cooper Works
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $31,200 (base)
Drive Type: Transverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged, inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,598/98
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 208 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 192 @ 1,850 (overboost: 207 @ 2,000 - 5,100)
Brake Type (front): 12.4-inch ventilated discs with 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 11-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Multilink
Tire Size (front): 205/45 R17 (84W)
Tire Size (rear): 205/45 R17 (84W)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiSportContact 3 SSR
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer performance
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 2,719
0-30 (sec): 2.6 (3.0 w/TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.4 (5.0 w/TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.7 (7.1 w/TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.4 (6.9 w/TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.0 (9.6 w/TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.6 @ 97.3 (15.1 @ 98.0 w/TC on)
30-0 (ft): 28
60-0 (ft): 114
Slalom (mph): 68.5 ( 67.0 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.91 ( 0.88 w/TC on)
Db @ Idle: 45.3
Db @ Full Throttle: 84.5
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 68.2
Acceleration: (58.2 mph @ redline in 2nd gear.) Fairly dramatic throttle closure with Trac on, and very easy to light tires with Trac off means a tricky launch either way. Boost hits hard at about 2,500-3,000 rpm. To make matters more frustrating, long-throw shifter has very narrow gates and I missed several shifts (e.g. 2-1 instead of 2-3!) This could spell disaster for some. Adequate cooling as trap speed fell only slightly.
Braking: Firm pedal, little dive, arrow-straight and very good fade resistance. Expected shorter distances from a 2,700-pound car with grippy tires, however.
Skid pad: With ESC off, very neutral with ability to steer with throttle alone. A little difficult to maintain constant speed with boost surging in 2nd gear, so I used 3rd. Steering weight seems a bit overdone -- needlessly so.
Slalom: Hard to determine exactly why, but this Mini feels stiff and skatey, without the amount of grip and confidence others have offered. Springs too stiff? Run-flat tires? Both? Turn-in is very good but the rear especially feels free and apt to let go. Fun for some but not for a novice. With ESC on, quick and precise corrections keep it buttoned down safely -- nearly as quick, with less effort.