2012 MINI Cooper Test drive and review

16 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2012 MINI Cooper Test drive and review отключены
Mini Cooper Electric Cars

My other favorite MINI

Of all the different MINI models — there are now eighteen proliferations, believe it or not — I’ve long suspected that base-model Cooper hatch would be my favorite. Unfortunately, fate and the MINI public relations team have conspired such that, aside from a brief drive at the Fiat 500 press preview, I’ve never actually had the chance to drive one — until now. And having just spent a week with one, I can honestly say that it’s even better than I thought.

Less is, once again, more

Why did I think I’d like the least-expensive MINI? Well, setting aside my perverse love for cheap cars, my two chief complaints about the MINI have been the torque steer and the rough ride. The base model addresses them both. (That’s not entirely true for the ride, but I’ll get to that in a sec.)

While the Cooper S gets a 181 hp turbocharged 1.6 liter engine, the base-model Cooper gets a non-turbo 121 hp version. With less torque (114 lb-ft vs 192), it makes sense that there is less torque steer. The trade-off, of course, is that the car is slower, and there were a few moments on the About.com Top Secret Curvy Test Road when I missed the extra horses, but out on the freeways of Los Angeles, the base MINI felt nice and zippy. (With less than 2,600 lbs of car to haul around, it’s not like the little 1.6 has that much work to do.) And in a week of zipping, I averaged nearly 33 MPG, albeit on pricey premium fuel.

2012 MINI Cooper interior

Photo Aaron Gold

Mini Cooper Electric Cars

Ride quality has been my other complaint about MINIs. To be fair, the MINIs I drove previously had the optional ($500) sport suspension, which is available on both base and S models. This particular MINI didn’t, and I didn’t miss it one bit — while my pace on the Curvy Test Road may have been slower, the grin on my face wasn’t any smaller.

Best of all, the suspension didn’t kick the crap out of me in everyday driving — the ride is firmer than most cars, but not uncomfortable. Perhaps the softer suspension would feel out of character in the turbocharged Cooper S, but in this particular MINI, I thought the engine and suspension complimented each other perfectly. (And as I mentioned, if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can opt for the stiffer suspension.)

And then there’s the low price tag. Coopers start at $20,400, and the one I drove had a single Sport package (which, ironically and thankfully, does not include the sport-tuned suspension). Total price: $21,650, about what you’d pay for a nicely equipped Honda Civic. (Who needs aback seat and trunk space, right?) Okay, yes, my test car was missing Bluetooth and a USB port, which means I had to dig out my old-school cigarette-lighter cell phone charger and 1/8 audio cord.

For a car this enjoyable, I can (and did) deal.

So is this my favorite MINI? Not quite — I still have a soft spot for the MINI Roadster. and I think I’d quite like it with this same powertrain and suspension combination (which, by the way, is priced at $26,250). But the base-model MINI is a close second — it’s cute, it’s cheap, and it’s a lot of fun. And isn’t that what the MINI brand is supposed to be all about? — Aaron Gold

Mini Cooper Electric Cars
Mini Cooper Electric Cars

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