Full 2014 MINI Cooper Coupe Review
What's New for 2014
Other than slight revisions to its optional feature availability, the 2014 Mini Cooper Coupe is unchanged.
The 2014 Mini Cooper Coupe is a compact two-seater based on the outgoing version of the British brand's popular four-passenger Cooper hatchback. The dossier is pretty much this: Take a Cooper hatchback, jettison its rear seats, give it a more steeply raked coupelike roof line and lower the ride height for a more aggressive stance. While all this sounds fine in theory, the end product, entertaining as it is, has a number of functional shortcomings.
For example, although the Cooper Coupe is as fun to drive as anything in the Mini family, it offers no real performance advantage over its siblings to balance out the loss of passenger capacity, reduced rear visibility and somewhat busier ride quality. Mini has also redesigned the regular hatchback this year, and that car's refinements highlight the Coupe's harder-to-use audio and infotainment controls and less tolerable ride.
If you're taken with the Coupe's racier styling, of course, you'll likely be willing to overlook these drawbacks. Just the same, we'd suggest that you also have a look at other sporty two-doors including the 2014 Scion FR-S and the nearly identical 2014 Subaru BR-Z, both of which offer rousing performance on par with the range-topping John Cooper Works Coupe at a lower price. We also suggest checking out the newly redesigned 2014 Mini Cooper hardtop, which benefits from a host of worthwhile upgrades without the aforementioned sacrifices.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 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, keyless entry, air-conditioning, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, height-adjustable seats, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, full power accessories, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio input jack. The optional Sport package includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a dynamic mode for the traction control, foglights, hood stripes and sport seats.
The S model adds a turbocharged engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a hood scoop and sport seats. The S model's available Sport package bundles 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, upgraded traction control and hood stripes. Stepping up to the John Cooper Works trim level gets you a more powerful turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, an aerodynamic body kit and distinctive cloth upholstery.
Major options, many of which are grouped into packages, include adaptive xenon headlights, a sport-tuned suspension (base and S), keyless entry and ignition, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control, heated seats, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, leather upholstery and a wide variety of exterior and interior customizing trim pieces.
The Mini Connected infotainment system includes a 6.5-inch display screen built into the car's oversize center-mounted speedometer and provides enhanced Bluetooth and iPod functionality, plus voice commands and smartphone integration (iPhones only). It also serves as the display for the optional navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the base 2014 Mini Cooper Coupe is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic transmission is available as an option. A Sport button that sharpens the response of the throttle, transmission (with the automatic) and steering is standard across the model lineup.
Mini estimates this powertrain will take the base model Coupe from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds when equipped with a manual transmission (9.5 seconds with the automatic). EPA estimated fuel economy is 32 mpg combined (29 city/37 highway) with the manual and 31 mpg combined (28/36) with the automatic.
The Cooper S Coupe is fitted with a turbocharged version of the same engine that puts out 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Mini estimates a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds with the manual transmission and 6.7 seconds with the automatic. Official EPA fuel economy estimates are 30 mpg combined (26/35) with either the manual or automatic.
Firing the John Cooper Works trim level is the same engine but with added turbo boost to bump output to 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. Combined fuel economy is estimated at 29 mpg (26/35) regardless of transmission choice. In Edmunds performance testing, we recorded a 0-60-mph time of 6.4 seconds.
The 2014 Mini Cooper Coupe's list of standard safety features includes antilock disc brakes, stability control and seat-mounted side airbags. Rear parking sensors are optional. In Edmunds testing, a Coupe JCW with summer performance tires stopped from 60 mph in 114 feet, a bit longer than average for this class of car.
Interior Design and Special Features
Besides the switch from four seats to two, the 2014 Mini Cooper Coupe looks and feels very familiar inside. All the design flourishes -- the huge centrally mounted speedometer and the row of toggle switches for power windows and locks, to name just two -- that have come to define the brand's interior design are here. As neat as these details look, they're not as readable and intuitive to operate as they should be.
Even though there's no shortage of headroom, the Mini Coupe's interior can still feel cramped compared to the Cooper hatchback. Part of this can be attributed to the lowered roof line, which also limits visibility out the back.
In place of the missing rear seat, the Coupe offers a small package shelf designed to store a purse or briefcase. Loading larger items is relatively easy, thanks to the trunk lid's integrated rear window that swings up out of the way as on a hatchback to reveal a modest 7 cubic feet of cargo space.
The optional Mini Connected electronics interface packs in a lot of functionality, with iPhone smartphone app integration providing features such as Internet radio and social media access. Unfortunately, some of the relevant functions require the car to be parked to access, and using Mini Connected can be tricky due to the limited functionality of the controller knob.
Like all two-door Mini models, the 2014 Cooper Coupe is good, clean fun. Driven around turns, it reacts eagerly to steering inputs and feels very nimble. Its small size also means it's relatively easy to park in tight spots. The Coupe's ride quality is pretty firm, however, and can get pretty choppy on rough roads. This is especially true on the JCW and other models fitted with the sport suspension and big wheels.
While the base engine is fine for leisurely cruising, the turbocharged engines under the hood of S and JCW models more effectively deliver the robust acceleration one associates with the Coupe's styling. Likewise, the six-speed manual transmission best fits the car's personality, but the optional automatic shifts quickly and smoothly enough to make it a perfectly viable choice.