by Ronald Montoya, Senior Consumer Advice Editor on October 2, 2015
You're looking at the interior of the 2011 Mini Copper. I hated it. It seemed as though a number of decisions on placement of controls prioritized form over function. Our 2014 Mini Cooper, on the other hand, is much more practical and still manages to look cool in in the process. Here's how.
by Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor on September 30, 2015
As reported by Ed Hellwig in July, the mirror cover on the driver side sun visor of our 2014 Mini Cooper had given up the ghost, flopping into view whenever you lowered the visor. Long Beach Mini ordered up a new visor, and I delivered the car for the repair. After about 90 minutes, the service folk had the new sun visor in place, and the mirror now stays closed until vanity calls.
Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on September 14, 2015
Look closely at this photo. Can you see the air-conditioning vents? It's like scanning through the pages of "Where's Waldo," isn't it? I haven't had much time in our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper, but every time I get behind the wheel, I'm annoyed by their placement.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 3, 2015
The pros and cons for light-colored vehicle upholstery are pretty obvious.
Pro: Looks great when new!
Con: Shows dirt the day after you brought it home!
Such is the case with our 2014 Mini Cooper. Our car's Satellite Gray leather upholstery pairs well with the Deep Blue paint and imparts a premium vibe. But after 20,000 miles, certain parts of the upholstery are looking pretty dirty.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on September 1, 2015
A couple of weeks ago, I needed to make an 800-mile round trip drive to San Francisco. Ideally I'd have a vehicle that could get out of its own way and wouldn't occupy two city blocks if parallel parked. Our 2014 Mini Cooper seemed appropriate for such conditions.
Having received a "C" for comfort compared to other hatchbacks on the Edmunds' rating scale, however, I was concerned I'd be over the drive before breaking free of the Los Angeles traffic scrum.
August 10, 2015
Bill and Linda, my friends in Borrego Springs, bought some new tires for a first-generation Mazda RX-7 that they own and are restoring to running condition. We'd all been at Buttonwillow Raceway at a track event and they got a deal on some tires from the resident tire vendor.
But they were headed on vacation after the event, or maybe they had no room because they were picking up their German Shepard from the sitter, I forget which. Maybe both. I volunteered to take the mounted tires home, stash them in my garage for a bit and bring them the rest of the way next time I was in the mood for an early morning drive.
There was a precedent at work. I'd driven down to their place on a whim in our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, leaving before sun-up and arriving in time to share morning coffee on their porch. The route there is laced with some amazing roads, especially the final plunge down S22 to the floor of the remote valley that contains Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego State Park.
This time I had the keys to our 2014 Mini Cooper, another great choice for eastern San Diego County's back roads. But it doesn't have nearly as much cargo space as our GTI. Was I getting in over my head?
July 31, 2015
The Mini's interior has always seemed more concerned with style than actual usability. Although the 2014 Mini Cooper has a less gimmicky interior than the previous version, it still lacks decent small-item storage.
Case in point: The door pockets. I usually keep my sunglasses in a semi-hard case, but the Mini's door pockets are so slim it won't fit.
July 13, 2015
"This is not a family car," she grumbled as she wormed her skinny, 5'4 frame into the 2014 Mini Cooper's tiny backseat.
"Where am I supposed to put my feet?!" she asked.
July 9, 2015
I thought for sure that someone would have already noticed this odd flaw in our 2014 Mini Cooper by now. It's literally right in your face, provided you flip down the sunvisor down.
June 24, 2015
At first glance, I thought the door pockets in our 2014 Mini Cooper came with some sorta hipster snap straps. Wasn't sure what they'd secure in that narrow, shallow pocket, but seemed like an interesting touch.
Looking closer, I realized the strap wasn't factory equipment at all.
May 29, 2015
May 20, 2015
The increased size and refinement of the 2014 Mini Cooper compared to the two previous generations of the Mini is undeniable. I'm already on record as a skeptic, because the visibility out the front and back of our long-term car isn't as good.
But darn it, I'm smitten with the driver seat in our Mini.
May 18, 2015
Our 2014 Mini Cooper has 60/40-split folding rear seats. That represents a change from the 50/50-split rear seats in the previous two generations of the Cooper. Ordinarily this isn't something I would care about, but now that I'm a parent, I have an opinion on this change. And I'll warn you: Most likely, I represent the minority.
May 5, 2015
Our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper is an excellent city car, partially because of its scant dimensions, but also thanks to excellent visibility out of the cabin. As Erin Riches has noted, it's not as easy to see the edges of the car, but the outward view still makes for a good driving experience.
April 22, 2015
The interior LED lighting is one of my favorite features of the 2014 Mini Cooper. With 10 different colors and varying degrees of brightness, the accent lights give the Mini a clubby ambience while driving at night.
For fun, the video and photo team took the Mini out for a night drive and did a time-lapse of the experience. With Canon 5Ds and GoPros in hand, we started off in Malibu and made our way through Santa Monica and Venice, before ending in downtown Los Angeles.
April 3, 2015
Our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper needed miles. So I took it on a one-day, 600-mile road trip to Bishop, California. A few days later I added another 600 miles driving to Laughlin, Nev., and back. The days between were spent commuting to and from the office and accounted for another 500 or so miles. The trips gave me plenty of time for driving impressions.
March 18, 2015
Temperatures have been in the high 80s in Los Angeles this past week. When I get into our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper after it's been parked in my driveway, the interior is pretty hot.
February 20, 2015
If you have kids, Mini offers a couple of family friendlier vehicles these days: the Cooper Countryman crossover, which has been out since 2011, and the four-door Cooper hatchback, which is new for 2015. But if you want to stay traditional in your choice of Mini Coopers, the two-door hatchback might still work out all right. I've come to that conclusion after taking my two kids to school each day for about a week.
February 18, 2015
Normally, a subcompact car with a fairly upright profile and a three-cylinder engine would not be an example of an agreeable highway companion. But this new-generation 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback is more refined than ever before. And compared to many other small cars we've tested recently, our Mini Cooper is actually one of the quieter vehicles out there.
February 3, 2015
My most vivid memory of the first generation of the new Mini Cooper is a frantic freeway commute. I was late for an off-site meeting, or thought I was. It turned out I had my days mixed up and I arrived to find the hotel taken over by a political fundraiser. Not my kind of crowd. I was so relieved. But I've never before (or since) had so much fun being stressed out trying to get somewhere. Our (very) old long-term 2002 Mini Cooper S was in its element in cutthroat traffic situations.
No, it wasn't very potent below 4,000 rpm. Nor was it especially comfortable or well made (the rubber pads were always coming off the pedals), but it had quick steering and the visibility was amazing. The glass area was huge and I could see the corners of the car and this was very empowering. It was like the old days that I never lived. I loved every minute of it.
When I get into our 2014 Mini Cooper (yeah, that's how it looks when you enter the cockpit from my driveway in the morning sun), I realize how much time has passed since November 2001. I find myself measuring the passage of time by the reduction in visibility.
January 29, 2015
The use of headlights is required either when it is raining or when the wipers are in "continuous use" in 23 U.S. states. A further 11 require headlight use during periods of "adverse weather," which to me implies rain, which in turn implies wipers. Do the math and we're talking about 34 of 50 states.
Wait, what are we talking about? The automatic headlights in our 2014 Mini Cooper are tied in to the windshield wiper switch. They're programmed to come on whenever the windshield wipers are on.
"What about the DRLs?" you may be asking.
They don't count. I asked. Daytime running lights are oftentimes weak. And when they're on the taillights and side marker lights are not. It's not about you, the driver, being able to see. It's about being seen, about not being rear-ended or T-boned when your car's outline gets lost in the spray.
January 26, 2015
The last time I drove our 2014 Mini Cooper, I was delighted to find that my daughter's rear-facing infant seat would fit in the backseat. But that was two months ago, and now I'm dealing with a larger child who rides in a convertible car seat.
For any non-parents out there, convertible seats have a five-point harness and are used from infancy through the preschool years. They are "convertible" in that you can install them front- or rear-facing. Right now, my kid is rear-facing and because of the way you have to angle the seat, this type of installation is very space-intensive. In other words, no more legroom for the front passenger.
After installing my gigantic First Years True Fit C680 SI in our Jeep Cherokee and our Nissan Rogue, I didn't even bother trying to squeeze it into the Mini. It would have been an ordeal even to get that big seat through the door opening. Fortunately, I have a back-up car seat that's a whole lot more compact and it fits well in our 2014 Mini Cooper.
January 7, 2015
Everything about the interior of our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper looks and feels expensive. From the flat wood trim to the piping on the seats to the chrome bezels on the gauges, the Mini's interior is undeniably impressive, even for the Mini's $33,000 as-tested sticker price.
Every time I drive the little hardtop I think, "This interior would not be out of place in a $60,000 luxury car."
Even the Mini's storage bins are extraordinary. Watch the video on the next page and you'll see what I mean.
December 9, 2014
I passed the 5,000-mile mark in our 2014 Mini Cooper over the November holidays and never even noticed until I refueled. I wasn't surprised really, because although the analog speedometer is properly located in front of the driver in this generation of the Cooper, I grew accustomed to using the trip computer's digital speedo display in the previous Cooper. When you bring up this display, you don't see the odometer readout. So 5,000 miles came and went without fanfare.
Still, there's plenty to celebrate in the third generation of the modern Mini Cooper.
December 8, 2014
I've wanted a Mini Cooper since about late 2001 but never bought one. That was probably a mistake. Now I am married, and we have a 7-month-old, so I won't be getting one anytime soon. (I have no interest in the larger Minis with four doors, by the way.) Instead, I decided to sign out our 2014 Mini Cooper over the Thanksgiving holidays, hoping I could make it work for such a short period of time.
And the good news is that I can. My daughter will get her first ride in a Mini Cooper this week.
November 19, 2014
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! The manual gear indictor within the instrument panel (can you even see it in this photo?) of the 2014 Mini Cooper is the smallest ever created.
October 22, 2014
Sure, the 2014 Mini Cooper is a small car. It's right there in the name and everything.
It's very unlikely the Mini Cooper will ever be named the Official Car of Costco. This is nothing like a Tardis. It's small on the inside, too.
But it's not nearly as small as you'd think, and nowhere near as small as last year's model. Last week I was able to do a fair amount of errand-running and item-toting in ours thanks to a laundry list of improvements over the previous model.
For the record, that's one of those large 34-pound bags of dog food on the right and a medium-sized 17.5-pound bag on the left. No sweat.
October 21, 2014
More than a few folks welcomed our 2014 Mini Cooper to the long-term fleet with raised eyebrows and incredulity. "Why would you spend $33,095 on a base Mini Cooper?" they wondered.
I'm here to lay it out for you.
First, the brand-new base 1.5-liter turbo three is no slouch. This is not the slug you may have encountered before. The new mill makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, and our automatic-equipped version recently scooted to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds.
That's about 2 seconds quicker than last-year's 1.6-liter base car with an automatic. Suddenly the more-powerful Cooper S is no longer the knee-jerk upgrade it once was. That's even true if you live at altitude, because the 2014 base engine now has a blower just like its stronger sibling.
And the 1.5-liter turbo is less thirsty, too. Our automatic is rated at 33 mpg Combined (29 City/40 Highway), which is 1 mpg better in an overall sense than the thriftiest base manual-equipped version of last year's car and a full 3 mpg better on the highway. It's also 2 mpg better across the board than a 2014 Cooper S automatic.
If we were comparing manual to manual the 2014 base Cooper's advantage over the 2014 Cooper S would be a full 5 mpg. It's hard to ignore 34 mpg Combined (30 City/42 Highway) versus 29 Combined (25 City/38 Highway) when you're talking about an entry-level engine that can now dish out plenty of merging and passing power.
For us, there really wasn't much of a choice. We simply had to try out the new base Cooper engine. But it's true we could have one for as little as $20,745.
October 10, 2014
Here's something that bugs me about our long-term Mini: the center console. On one hand, I'm glad there's a handbrake instead of a button or pedal, so I can reenact scenes from the Italian Job. Ahhh, Charlize... Where was I? Oh, right, the Mini. The problem is, it doesn't clear the armrest. And the issues don't stop there.
September 15, 2014
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a movie character type who exhibits "psychotically bubbly" kookiness for no apparent reason. The Mini vehicles that we've had in our long-term fleet were Manic Pixies of the automotive variety.