Joe Duarte

2012 Mini Coupe

Mini downsizes to two-seat coupe

2012 Mini Coupe

Mini downsizes to two-seat coupe

"After going ever-larger with the Clubman and then Countryman, Mini has turned in the opposite direction – downsizing, if you will - with the newest model in its stable, the Mini Coupe."

Although a two-door Mini is nothing new, the Coupe is the first two-seater in the brand’s line-up. It also has a sporty-looking silhouette thanks to the “helmet” roof as well as another Mini first - an active rear spoiler that extends automatically at 80 km/h.

Mini is planning four versions - three gasoline versions that will be available in Canada, and a diesel for markets such as Europe. On the dealership menu in Canada are the Cooper Coupe, Cooper S Coupe and John Cooper Works Coupe. The four-cylinder engines Mini is touting for each, respectively, are a 1.6-litre putting out 121-horsepower and 118 lb.-ft. of torque, a 1.6-litre turbo (181 hp/177 lb.-ft.) and a 1.6-litre with twin-scroll turbo (208/184). The diesel Cooper SD Coupe is powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel (143/ 225).

A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment on all models (touted by Mini as “the lightest gearbox of its kind”). A six-speed automatic with sequential shifting will be available as an option on all models but the John Cooper Works.

As one would expect of a vehicle with the Mini name, the Coupe promises a fun driving experience with go-kart-like handling. Zero to 100 km/h is reported to take 8.9 seconds in the Cooper (10.2 with the automatic), 6.9 (7.1) in the Cooper S and 6.4 in the JCW.

The suspension is taut, the centre of gravity is low, the wheelbase is long (ish), and front and rear tracks are wide. It uses a MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension. The standard wheel on the Cooper and Cooper S is 16 inches in diameter, with the option to move up to 17-inches (standard size on the John Cooper Works). Run-flat tires are standard.

Special body-stiffening measures have been undertaken for even better handling, and slightly more weight has been added over the front axle in order to increase traction at the front wheels. Mini claims the cars have very low levels of torque steer - something commonly found in powerful front-wheel drive cars.

Mini also says that everyday usability hasn’t gone ignored. A high-opening tailgate and “large” luggage area with through-loading facility are reported to make the Coupe a little more plausible as a day-to-day driver than some of its competitors. The standard upholstery is cloth, with the option of moving up to a combination of cloth/leather, leatherette or full leather (three choices).

In order to improve fuel efficiency, all Mini Coupe models use “Minimalism” technology, which includes features such as brake energy regeneration, auto start/stop function, shift point display, and electric power steering.

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Fact file

  • Trim level: Cooper; Cooper S; John Cooper Works
  • Price range: Not yet set
  • Year/Make/Model: 2012 Mini Coupe
  • EnerGuide fuel economy ratings: Comb. - 6.1 (1.6L man.); 6.4 (1.6L auto); 6.7 (turbo man.); 7.0 (turbo auto).
  • Competitors: Audi TT; BMW 135; Lotus Elise; Porsche Cayman.
  • Options: 17-inch wheels; sport seats.