Another Mini Cooper? Yes, indeed. Automobile Magazine is welcoming our third Mini Cooper hardtop into Four Seasons duty, and this is the most changed version since BMW re-introduced the brand to America back in 2002. The newest Mini is considerably larger, features an all-new interior, and has new engines under the hood.
Whereas we’ve previously had Cooper S Minis—those being the only version an enthusiast would entertain—this time we went for a base 2014 Mini Cooper. The standard 2014 Mini Cooper now uses a BMW-sourced, turbocharged three-cylinder engine that brings big gains in output over the previous four-cylinder, with 134 hp and 162 pound-feet of torque. Paired with a new six-speed manual transmission, this engine promises much better fuel economy (42 mpg highway according to the Feds) and improved performance, making the standard Cooper the model that particularly intrigued us.
Our 2014 Mini Cooper came equipped with the premium package (panoramic moonroof, automatic climate control, Harman/kardon audio system), the park assistant package (park distance control and automatic parking assist), and the cold weather package (heated seats and, strangely, power folding mirrors). The Mini wired pack brought an 8-inch center screen, navigation with real-time traffic, and a center armrest with built-in cell-phone connector and USB. Seventeen-inch wheels (replacing the standard fifteens) and a backup camera—at $1250 and $500, respectively—and were joined by a host of lesser items. In all, the extra booty pushed the very reasonable $20,745 base price all the way to $29,795.
We’ll see which options we deem must-haves and which ones strike us as easy to skip. We’ll also determine whether the new three-cylinder turbo makes the standard 2014 Mini Cooper a newly relevant choice, or whether we’ll wish we had gone for the Cooper S. No doubt we’ll also ruminate on the new Mini’s somewhat-less-mini size and whether or how that affects its driving demeanor.
Clearly, there are plenty of reasons to take a third Mini Cooper on board for a long-term test. We promise to report back on all of the above, and more, over the next twelve months.