It Grew Up a Little, But It's Still Fun - 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop Long-Term Road Test

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2014 Mini Cooper: It Grew Up a Little, But It's Still Fun

May 22, 2015

2014 Mini Cooper

I've managed to hang around a good long time, so I still have memories of driving our long-term 2002 Mini Cooper S (it was Electric Blue) and our 2007 Cooper S (Chili Red). I wasn't as (modestly) skilled behind the wheel as I am today and I'm sure I made all kinds of dumb mistakes while driving those cars, but man, were they fun. I think I'd finally hit my stride with heel-and-toe downshifting when the 2007 came along, and I was always looking up remote back roads when I had the key to it.

During my first few commutes in our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper, though, I just wasn't feeling the old excitement.

Partly, it was the superficial stuff. We didn't get the S. We went with the mainstream six-speed automatic transmission, rather than an old-school manual gearbox with a clutch pedal. We didn't get a very whimsical paint option. Deep Blue Metallic is way too serious for a Mini (as are all of the 2014 colors, but fortunately this is rectified for the 2015 model year. Electric Blue is back).

And partly, it was the realization that I've grown up. I have a family now and can't take long drives on scenic roads on the spur of the moment.

But the more I drive our 2014 Mini Cooper, the more I like it. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine feels like it has almost as much usable torque in normal driving as the turbo four-cylinder in the previous Cooper S. And compared to our 2002 Cooper S, which had a 1.6-liter engine that was pretty gutless below 4,000 rpm, our 2014 Cooper is much easier to drive.

I do typically use Sport mode, though, to get the throttle and transmission response that I prefer. I also often disable the auto start-stop feature because the restarts feel so unrefined that I start to get annoyed.

And even though the ride quality is relaxed in this car, this third generation of the new Mini Cooper still feels pretty athletic at a moderately brisk pace on public roads. It feels good going around turns, and there's still some steering feel to enjoy. You can have fun in this car in the midst of your daily errands just like you could in previous Mini Coopers, and that's what matters to me. Best of all, I haven't gotten any complaints from the backseat so far.

Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 13,060 miles

2014 MINI Cooper

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