2012 MINI Cooper Coupe
by John Davis
Ever since the “new” MINI Cooper arrived for 2002, car writers have searched for the proper words to describe driving one of the world’s smaller car lines. While MINI products are micro-compact in size, the brand does not make entry level lethargic gas misers. In fact, MotorWeek described the 2002 MINI Cooper as akin to motoring about in a square-cornered, hard top sports car.
Well, finally, for 2012, there is a MINI Cooper model that fits both the style and true spirit of a sports car. The two-seat MINI Cooper Coupe sheds right angles for a chopped top profile that reminds us of a backwards baseball cap. A contrasting color roof is standard, as is a rear spoiler that deploys automatically.
As per other MINI offerings, the Coupe will be available in garden variety base trim, turbocharged “S”, and track-capable John Cooper Work models. Most of our drive time was spent in a JCW model, and it was a thrill to drive. The John Cooper Works Coupe includes Dynamic Traction Control and Electronic Differential Lock Control, as well as a lower ride height, stiffer damping, and larger anti-roll bars. If there is a negative here it is in ride quality, which is stiff and relatively unforgiving.
The engine lineup starts with the base Coupe’s 121-horsepwer, 1.6-liter I4. Move up to “S” trim for the 181-horsepower turbocharged and intercooled mill. The JCW goes several better with its higher boosted turbo motor rated at 208-horsepower. All trims except the JCW are available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. A quick action 6-speed manual transmission is the only choice for the John Cooper Works Coupe.
The cabin is tight, also like a sports car, but all the normal MINI Cooper cues are present including an oversized, center mounted Speedometer, and retro-style toggles switches.
Despite not having room for a backseat, there is a reasonably sized trunk that even includes a pass through to the interior for carrying longer items. Speaking of practicality, the base Coupe has Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 28 MPG City and 36 MPG Highway with the automatic.
It didn’t take us long to fall in love with the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe. It is a welcome addition to the MINI lineup that is everything but square.
If you’d like to see the details of the 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe, be sure to catch MotorWeek’s Road Test on episode #3122 which begins airing on most PBS stations on February 4, 2012. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on cable’s Velocity.