First Drive: 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe John Cooper Works

The so-called "helmet" roof of the Coupe is its principal design signature and a point of pride for Warming. The camouflaged cars we drove had eclipse gray paint with silver roofs. Although there will be nine available exterior colors, the roof will be offered only in silver and black, except red will be available as well for the John Cooper Works version. The only monotone color combination that will be allowed out of the paint shop at the Mini factory in Oxford, England, will be black on black, which we expect will look pretty cool, actually. Sport stripes will be available on the hood and hatchback, with inverted color on the roof.

"We consciously decided on only three roof colors," explains Warming. "We wanted an extra emphasis on the roof." For his part, Warming warms to the idea of a Coupe in British racing green with a silver roof over an interior done in "toffy," which is a medium brown caramel (formerly used on some special editions). Warming considers the helmet roof to have two parts. "The forward part emphasizes the two-seat character," he claims. "Then we added rake to the rear spoiler, so the effect is cheeky; it's like a baseball hat turned around." The roof-mounted rear spoiler leads visually and aerodynamically to the spoiler mounted on the hatch lid. The lower front lip of the Coupe was lengthened about an inch from the 2009 concept car to increase down force at the front axle.

"The three-box design is new for Mini," Warming continues. "The windscreen [windshield] angle is 13 degrees flatter than on the hatch, and the car is 29 mm [just over an inch] lower than the hatch. The C-pillars pull in, so the car looks wider. The interior features and geometry carry over [from the hatch]." But as a two-seater, the Coupe interior is different from any other Mini's. There's a cargo shelf behind the seats and a flip-down center door leading to the cargo area which, at 280 liters [10 cu ft], is significantly bigger than the hatchback's 160 liters [5.6 cu ft]. There are two elliptically shaped indentations in the headliner to increase headroom.

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