Full 2013 MINI Cooper Coupe Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Mini Cooper Coupe features Bluetooth and a USB/iPod adapter as standard, replacing satellite radio (now an option), while an automatic transmission is now available on the sporty JCW.
You've probably heard the adage, "Less is more," extolling the virtues of elegant simplicity. You've also likely heard, "More for less," that elusive point where a deal becomes a steal. But "Less for more?" That's not nearly as common, and for the most part, not at all in your best interests. But that's precisely how we describe the 2013 Mini Cooper Coupe.
Mini Touts the Coupe as "geared squarely to maximizing driving fun," and considering how fun the "regular" Mini Cooper is, our interest is certainly piqued. Compared to the Mini Cooper, the Coupe is a two-seater with a raked-back windshield and tapering hatch. It sits a little lower and by that virtue, has a more athletic stance. In terms of performance, though, there's little to distinguish the Coupe from any other Mini.
If the 2013 Mini Cooper Coupe has any performance advantages, they're so slight as to be insignificant. What is significant, however, is the fact that you'll pay at least $1,000 for the privilege of having two fewer passengers, poor rear visibility and a busier and less refined ride quality. Less for more, indeed.
If anything, the Coupe is a styling exercise, and if its sleeker profile appeals to you, perhaps its drawbacks are an easier pill to swallow. Whether or not that's the case, we'd still recommend checking out some of its competitors. In particular, the 2013 Scion FR-S and its nearly identical 2013 Subaru BR-Z cousin are prime examples of "more for less," with performance that rivals the range-topping Mini John Cooper Works model at a midrange Cooper S price. And let's not count out the standard Mini Cooper, which will deliver the same spirit, more or less.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mini Cooper Coupe is a two-door two-passenger coupe with a hatchback-style trunk lid. There are three available trim levels: Base, S and John Cooper Works (JCW).
The base Coupe comes standard with 15-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an USB/iPod interface. The optional Sport package adds 16-inch wheels, foglamps, dynamic traction control with electronic differential lock, sport seats and hood stripes.
The Coupe S adds 16-inch wheels, a turbocharged engine, a hood scoop, firmer suspension tuning, foglamps, sport seats and alloy pedals. The Coupe S Sport package adds 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, dynamic traction control and hood stripes. The John Cooper Works trim includes a more powerful turbo engine, upgraded suspension and Brembo brakes, an aerodynamic body kit, John Cooper Works badging and checkered-cloth upholstery.
Major optional features (some of which are grouped in packages) include adaptive xenon headlights, automatic climate control, heated seats/mirrors/washer jets, keyless entry/ignition, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, satellite radio and added iPhone functions that include Twitter access, RSS feeds and Web-based radio. Other options include different wheels, parking sensors, cloth or leather upholstery, a navigation system and a multitude of different interior trims and materials. Furthermore, a multitude of dealer-installed accessories are available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Mini Coupe comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine good for 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual with hill-start assist is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. Every Mini Coupe comes with a Sport button that sharpens the response and behavior of the throttle, transmission (with the automatic) and steering.
Mini estimates a manual-equipped Coupe will go from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds (9.5 seconds with the automatic). EPA-estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined with the manual and 28/36/31 mpg with the automatic.
The Cooper S has a turbocharged version of the same engine good for 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque (192 lb-ft at full throttle thanks to an overboost function). Mini estimates 0-60-mph acceleration in 6.5 seconds for the manual and 6.7 seconds for the automatic. Estimated fuel economy is 26/35/29 mpg with the manual and 26/34/29 mpg with the auto.
The John Cooper Works cranks up the turbo boost to produce 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is estimated at 26/35/29 mpg with the manual and 25/34/29 mpg with the new automatic. Mini estimates a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds; our testing revealed slightly slower results, with a 6.4-second best 0-60 time with the manual. As good as these figures are, however, we've recorded nearly identical ones in a regular Cooper JCW hatchback.
Standard safety features for all Mini Coupes include antilock disc brakes, stability control, dual front and seat-mounted side airbags. Dynamic traction control, a differential lock and parking sensors are optional. A LATCH child seat tethering system is standard for the passenger seat. In Edmunds testing, a Coupe JCW stopped from 60 mph in a very good 114 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
As expected, the interior of the Coupe is done up with typical Mini flair, including the infamous toggle switches, giant speedometer and body-colored panels. They're all nice nods to the original Mini, but in terms of practicality, it comes off as a bit gimmicky.
At best, the Coupe's cabin feels intimate; at worst, it's claustrophobic. There is no shortage of headroom (thanks to a double-bubble headliner), but unlike the airy feeling in the high-roof Cooper, the Coupe's cabin itself feels rather tight. In place of rear seats, Mini fits the Coupe with a cargo area divider that offers up a small parcel shelf.
Luggage space, at 7 cubic feet, is a couple cubes better than a regular Cooper hatchback's, but besides the cargo area pass-through, there's no provision to expand as is the case with the hatchback. Access to the trunk is rather easy, at least, as the rear glass lifts up with the trunk lid like a hatchback. Rear visibility is particularly poor for the Coupe.
Unfortunately, measurable performance advantages of the two-seat 2013 Mini Coupe over the four-seat Mini Cooper hatchback do not exist. But whether or not the Coupe is reported to be a tenth of a second quicker than the Cooper is largely a moot point. Every Mini's mission, regardless of model/trim is to provide a uniquely sporty driving experience, and the 2013 Mini Coupe fulfills that promise.
The Coupe's lower stance and slightly firmer suspension largely result in a slightly busier ride -- especially on the John Cooper Works Coupe, where some have even called it unacceptable. This is why we have historically recommended either the Base or the S trim, but without the optional sport suspension. The car's electric-assist power steering is as good as any manufacturer has developed, with crisp reactions and laserlike precision.
Overall, the Base Coupe will likely satisfy most drivers, with the S trim adding a little more thrill with its turbocharged engine. Opting for the 208-hp John Cooper Works Coupe is a commitment that some may later regret.