Strengths and weaknesses:
- turbo performance
- Helmet roof a bit odd (but shape is necessary)
- non-turbo a little weak.
Downsized Mini is big on performance
"MUNICH, Germany - It was only a matter of time and for Mini the time is now. Here comes the 2012 Mini Coupe, a super compact two-seater that brings a new player into the sporty coupe market."
We’re just outside Munich at the Mini Adventure Camp set up at an abandoned airbase to have a fling in the new coupe.
Mini’s first two-seater has a roof line designers describe as a “helmet.” (The first descriptions of the vehicle described the roofline as a “backward baseball cap” but the marketers pointed out that the backward cap was becoming passé as a fashion statement.)
The roof has an integrated spoiler, which directs airflow efficiently enough that a wiper is not required on the steeply inclined rear window. There is another, active, rear spoiler on the rear deck - it extends automatically at 80 km/h - adding to the downforce on the rear end. The spoiler can be activated manually with a button in the overhead console.
Trunk space is surprisingly large and the rear deck opens wide for easy loading. There’s a pass-through to the cabin for longer items.
Overall length and width (2,467 mm) are nearly identical to the Mini hatchback, but height has been reduced by 29 mm.
Despite the lower roofline, interior headroom has not been compromised, although outward visibility can be challenging.
The rest of the interior is all Mini, with the big centre-mounted speedometer that encircles the readouts for various functions of the Mini-Connected system.
Like other members in the Mini line-up, Mini Coupe is coming to Canada in three variants: Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works with MSRPs running from $25,950 to $38,400 for the Cooper Works edition. Those are just the starting prices, though, and when you start adding options, the price jumps quickly.
Under the hood is a standard 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that puts out 121 horsepower in the normally-aspirated Cooper version. The “S” car go-power increases to 181 using a twin-scroll turbocharger and if you go for the Works, the output jumps to 208 horsepower with the addition of some performance goodies from Mini motorsports applications.
A precise, short-shift, six-speed manual transmission is the standard shiftworker, although a six-speed Steptronic automatic can be ordered for Cooper and Cooper S models.(Paddle shifters are available as an additional option.)
If you go for the Works model, you have to row your own gears, but that is far from being a hardship.
From the narrow, twisting local roads to the high speed handling track laid out on the abandoned runways, the front-wheel drive coupe provides all the fun you can want.
The car is agile. The electric power steering responding to driver input quickly and precisely. A “Sport” button on the Works model centre console (optional on the other two models) lets the driver choose between basic power assist and a something more in tune with a performance driving style.
Dynamic stability control (with integrated ABS, EBD, cornering brake control, brake assist and hill start assist) is standard, along with electric power steering. Electronic differential lock control is optional in the Cooper Works edition.
Two doors, two seats, three models and fun any way you look at it.