The regular two-door Mini Hardtop leaves a lot to be desired as a small premium hatchback, but that hasn’t stopped it from cultivating a loyal Mini following. Its stylish looks, great fuel efficiency, and fun-focused driving dynamics bring in lots of enthusiastic buyers. But plenty of people won’t consider it because it has two doors and a tiny back seat that’s a squeeze to access. Now that the Mini Hardtop 4-Door Cooper S is here, we wanted to see if a little extra utility is the special sauce the Mini was missing.
Underneath the four-door Cooper S is a long-legged variant on the same chassis underpinning the two-door. To make things more livable, the wheelbase is extended by 2.9 inches, increasing rear legroom by 1.5 inches. The rear doors make ingress and egress easier, but legroom isn’t noticeably improved. We loaded the car up with three other adults, and despite comfortable seats and a short trip, we heard nothing but complaints from the rear about cramped footroom and limited space when carrying more than one passenger.
The extra doors don’t solve the woes that we endured with our Four Seasons Mini Cooper two-door. Unlike the last-generation Cooper, the new Cooper fails to excite us enough to justify its punishing ride and high price. Needlessly heavy steering and uninspiring handling don’t help either. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the Cooper S’ best asset; it barks nicely and puts out a reasonable 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, providing snappy acceleration and strong fuel economy ratings of 24 city, 34 highway mpg.
The four-door Cooper is expensive when compared to the rest of the segment though. Like a haute fashion accessory, you are paying for the name and not the content. The as-tested price of $34,350 with the optional Media, Sport, and Premium packages represents a large chunk of change over a similarly equipped four-door Volkswagen GTI, which is more practical and much better to drive.
The Mini Hardtop 4-Door Cooper S is a step in the right direction toward an everyday-use hot hatch. Still, we’d rather have a smaller car that’s more nimble rather than make sacrifices that come with a cramped back seat. Want a sporting character along with usable back seats? Pick up a Volkswagen Golf GTI or Ford Focus ST. For those who want a Mini that is more useful, it’s better to wait for the more expensive but much larger 2016 Mini Clubman.
2015 Mini Hardtop 4-Door Cooper S Specifications
- On Sale: Now
- Price: $25,950/$34,350 (base/as-tested)
- Engine: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/189 hp @ 4,700 rpm, 207 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback
- EPA Mileage: 24/34 mpg (city/hwy)
- Suspension: Strut-type, coil springs/multilink, coil springs
- Brakes: Vented discs
- Tires: 195/55R-16 Pirelli Cinturato P7
- L x W x H: 158.0 x 68.0 x 56.1 in
- Wheelbase: 101.1 in
- Headroom F/R: 39.9/37.5 in
- Legroom F/R: 41.4/32.3 in
- Shoulder Room: 51.2/49.6 in
- Cargo Room: 13.1/40.7 cu ft
- Weight: 2,895 lb
- Weight Dist.: 61/39%
- 6.6 sec
- 1/4-Mile: N/A
- Top Speed: 145 mph