2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop
by John Davis
The 2014 model year sees the arrival of the 3rd generation of the “new” Mini Cooper, and it has undergone it’s most extensive redesign since the Cooper drove into the modern age for 2002.
Like virtually all reworks these days, the Cooper has grown, especially in overall length. But, the classic shape remains. However, diehard fans will instantly notice the bolder take on iconic elements like the grille, side scuttles, head and tail lights, as well as a longer, flatter nose.
The all-new chassis is joined by a pair of all-new engines, as well as new 6-speed transmissions, both manual and automatic.
The more intriguing new engine is the standard Cooper’s 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbo rated at 134-horsepower. The Cooper S adds a cylinder for an even 2.0-liters and rates 207-horsepower.
We spent time with both motors at the international press launch in Puerto Rico and found the I3 to be the most impressive. There is an aggressive Sport, Mid, and relaxed Green modes to tailor the driving experience. In Sport we found the I3’s torque to be impressive at launch, giving the car a quite spirited feel until you start to really move down the asphalt. Then, things become more relaxed. For longer runs, and plenty of reserve power on the highway, the 2.0 “S” is the way to go.
But the Cooper has never been about straight line kicks. The genuine fun starts when you begin sawing the wheel back and forth. Suspension hardware remains Mini’s unique single-joint spring strut front along with a multi-link rear, but everything has been both lightened and stiffened, losing none of the go kart feel along the way.
The interior matches the exterior in being similar but well updated, and we might add, with far better materials. Iconic elements like the toggle switches and the big round center dash display remain. But, the speedometer has moved from there to a routine place behind the steering wheel. The center display can be filled with an 8.8-inch color screen controlled by Mini’s version of BMW’s iDrive system. Surrounding the center display is a “mood ring” that changes color with driving mode.
The cabin is overall roomier and there are plenty of places to store small items. Front seat comfort is the best of any Cooper yet. In the back seat, leg room is up, but headroom is down. So, it’s still a tight confine for most adults. Cargo space is also up.
For a complete road-test of the 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3245 that begins airing on July 11, 2014. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About the Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.
So, the 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop gotten a bit bigger, but it still retains a fun driving nature that is synonymous with the brand. Indeed, even after more than half a century the spirit of the original Mini Cooper lives on, and thanks to this very careful rethinking, should continue thrive well into the future.