Updated engines and a new chassis promise livelier performance and handling for the new Mini.
Endearing retro styling remains; new engines should offer better power and fuel economy; highly customizable.
New chassis probably won't offer much more rear legroom, but might cut down on the stiff and noisy ride on current upper trim levels.
The 2014 Mini Cooper is redesigned.
Mini touts new engines, a retuned chassis and interior refinements for the 2014 Mini Cooper, the third-generation model of the iconic hatchback. That's a host of important changes for the Cooper, but don't expect the look to change much. Mini's earlier concept preview, the Mini Vision, shows the forthcoming Cooper holding the same lines, but with smoother, rounded side panels and headlights. The body-colored bumper that split the previous grille makes way for a black piece that creates the look of a single, gulping grille.
The biggest changes are out of sight, though. The 2014 Cooper will ride on a new front-wheel-drive platform developed for BMW's future 1 Series models, and will also likely use the same new turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engines developed for the new small BMW lineup.
Expect anywhere from 120-200 horsepower and impressive fuel economy from these turbocharged engines. If you think a new 1 Series might be beyond your reach, the new Cooper could make a fine substitute.
Mini styling makes its largest leap inside, at least gauging from early photos of a prototype interior. The traditional oversize speedometer shrinks and moves to a freestanding configuration atop the steering column, joined by a half-moon tachometer gauge. The still comically large center stack should now house radio controls or a touchscreen display on models with navigation. The seats, meanwhile, appear to incorporate thigh bolsters (another BMW standard) and even offer a tartan-like fabric pattern.
Expect to see the 2014 Mini Cooper on sale by next March, followed by all its variations -- roadster, coupe, five-door Countryman and four-door Clubman, possibly an electric -- by the next year. Check back for a full review of the new Cooper hatchback, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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