2014 Mini Cooper: I'd Spend More for the S
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 9, 2015
I enjoyed reading Erin's recent "The Minis I've Never Bought" update. Her proposed build for a new Cooper hatchback seems pretty cool and I suspect I'd come up with something very similar. There's one key difference, though: If I were buying a new Cooper Hardtop, I'd get the Cooper S.
This isn't a decision to make lightly. I do like our Mini Cooper's turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and agree with prior comments. Jay Kavanagh noted how it's "shockingly smooth," Mike Monticello wrote that it's "pretty peppy" and Travis Langness posted how, despite having just 134 horsepower, our long-term Mini is "really fun to drive."
Plus, you've got to pony up to get an S. A 2016 Cooper hatchback starts at $20,700. An S version rises to $24,100. You don't get much extra for your $3,400 either, other than the main upgrade of a 189-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
That upgrade does provide a more sporting personality though, and that's one thing that I find a little lacking in our test car. It's fun to drive around town, yes, but when you really want to go drive (or "motor," in Mini parlance), the base three-cylinder just isn't as cool. Power tapers off at high rpm and doesn't provide the energizing acceleration that I want from a hot hatch.
We tested a four-door 2015 Cooper recently. Also fitted with the automatic transmission, it accelerated to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. That's not a huge upgrade compared to the three-cylinder's 7.3-second sprint, but it's noticeable, particularly in high rpm (4,000 to 6,000) personality. With the S, there's more to work with and more incentive to wind it out to redline. I like the look of the center-exit exhaust a lot more, too.
To clarify, I'm not saying that the S is the version to get no matter what. Both are justifiable. It just has more to do with what you want out of your potential Mini Cooper purchase. For me, it's the Cooper S.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor