2007 Mini Cooper S: Versus the VW R32
November 14, 2007
You might have noticed that we've published a follow-up test on the 2008 Volkswagen R32. The lead of the story mentions California's Highway 178, and in fact I had the opportunity to drive that white R32 back-to-back with our long-term 2007 Mini Cooper S on the same route. It winds through the Sierras and dumps one out into the vast expanse of the Mojave desert.
Both cars are European hatchbacks, and the price of a loaded-up Mini Cooper S can come very close to the R32's $32,990 base price. But could our 172-horsepower Cooper S with keep up with the 250-hp all-wheel-drive R32? I wanted to find out.
The Cooper S is at a disadvantage off the line. The Ã¼ber-GTI R32 reaches 60mph in 6 seconds flat compared to the Mini's 0-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds. But in all other areas, the Mini was clearly my favorite.
Number One Difference: curb weight. The Cooper S checks in at about 2,600 pounds, which is an incredible 1,000 pounds fewer than the R32. (Our tested R32 weighed 3,547 pounds.) By the time you've reached the quarter mile, the Cooper's narrowed the margin, too 14.6 seconds for the R32 versus 14.9 for the Cooper S.
Out on the 178's twisty turns, the R32 certainly felt capable and secure. But the Mini far surpassed it in terms of driving enjoyment. Like a Border Collie, the Mini is lively and nimble and even a bit mischievous. Dull? Never.
Conceivably, the R32's more relaxed nature and AWD would prove decisive if you were to own it rather than just zip around mountain roads for a day. But if I were buying a European hot hatch, there would be no hesitation. Mini Cooper S please.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor