Still Everything We’ve Come To Love About The New Mini
Ever since BMW relaunched the MINI brand for 2002, they’ve been very successful at making constant updates without straying too far from the cute looks and go-kart personality that attracts so many fans. And that’s where we find ourselves with this 2022 MINI Cooper S 2-door hardtop. New style, new tech, and let’s see what else it has in store.
This 3rd generation MINI Cooper Hardtop has been kicking around since 2014; so, we’re currently in the “making subtle changes to keep it interesting enough to buyers until the next gen comes out” phase of its lifecycle.
Last year was all about performance with the return of a manual transmission option and the most powerful MINI ever, the John Cooper Works GP. This year, there’s updated styling, as seen here on this 2022 MINI Cooper S Hardtop 2 Door. Employing a bookend approach; both front and rear fascias are new. Up front a larger single hexagonal grille replaces the previous 2-piece split grille motif; and removal of the fog lights allows for new vertical air intakes on each side. In back, the hexagonal theme is echoed in the rear bumper which has been widened, and more smoothly integrates the central twin-pipe exhaust outlet.
The ability to highly personalize has been always been a MINI staple, and that gets magnified with new roof color options. Our tester’s silver roof came with matching mirror caps, fitting the metallic British Racing Green and silver bonnet stripes perfectly.
Inside, there’s a new steering wheel with updated controls, and a great looking digital instrument panel just behind. The large 8.8-inch central touchscreen control center, which used to be optional, not only looks cool and works very well, is now standard. Still plenty roomy up front, and adults can even ride in the back, but only if the front seat passengers sacrifice some of their generous legroom. Cargo capacity still a little on the small side; just 8.7 cubic-ft.; but 34.0 with the rear seatbacks folded.
Nothing new for the powertrain, a 134-horsepower 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbo is standard. This Cooper S sports a 189-horsepower 2.0-liter I4 turbo with 206 lb-ft. of torque. Both with your choice of 7-speed DCT or our car’s 6-speed manual.
The Cooper S also comes with a much stiffer suspension. We’ve always felt it was appropriate; but passengers that aren’t in on the whole experience will make comments like “wow you really feel every bump in the road, don’t you?”
Of course, the reward for putting up with feeling the nap of the road is exceptional handling.
Even on a very cold and windy track day, there was copious amounts of grip through our cone course. There was also a little more roll than anticipated with such a firm suspension, but we could really carry some serious speed through here, and it only adds to the already high fun factor. Steering is both accurate and quick without feeling hyper, and there’s just incredible overall balance to the car.
For acceleration runs, the clutch is soft, which makes launching either easy or hard depending on how your technique. The engine makes good power right from the get go, but you always feel like there’s a harder launch to be had. Still, the 6.3–second run to 60 is plenty quick. Power tapers off a bit before redline, so short shifting a little actually helps, and there’s enough torque to chirp the tires all the way through 3rd gear.
The shifter itself is a tad rubbery in feel, has an oddly-shaped knob that doesn’t necessarily feel great in your hand, and the throws are a bit long. But, having said all of that, in operation it was very precise, and a joy to work throughout the 14.9-second ¼-mile, completed at 95 miles-per-hour. Brakes bite down hard initially, but then intense ABS pulsing kicks in and seems to drag the stops out longer than they should be; we averaged an OK 120-feet from 60.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the Cooper S manual are 23-City, 33-Highway, and 27-Combined. We averaged a fine 28.6 miles-per-gallon of Premium. That makes for a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 11.0-barrels of annual oil use, with 5.5-tons of CO2 emissions.
MINI Cooper Hardtop 2-door pricing begins at $23,750; with the more powerful S starting at $27,750.
As far as we’re concerned, MINI didn’t really need to make any updates to the 2022 Cooper S Hardtop 2 Door to make it a highly desirable ride. It’s still fun, still cool looking, still a hoot to drive; in other words, still everything we’ve come to love about the new MINI, and more.
Engine: 2.0L I4 Turbo
Torque: 206 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 95 mph
60-0 Stopping: 120 feet
EPA: 23 City / 33 Highway / 27 Combined