It’s been six days of my 2015 MINI Cooper S 4-Door trial. The car goes back to BMW tomorrow for the next journo to beat it up for a week. I have to say, there are many things wrong with the MINI but I’m gonna miss the little bulldog. It’s a car that grows on you, it sticks.
When it comes to the looks, it’s definitely an attractive car. It has the right lines and shapes, except for maybe the rear end which can look a bit frumpy. The big 18 inch wheels on my tester looked great, despite making the ride a bit too harsh. That Electric Blue color caught the eyes of many and got me plenty of waves, thumbs-ups and beeps from passerby’s. The two, black bonnet stripes looked fantastic in contrast to the bright, blue paint.
The face of the car — grill, headlights intake scoops — looks like you jumped out and surprised the car, which is kinda funny, if not particularly good looking. But it’s a good looking car overall. I also enjoyed all of the lights that shone on the ground from the door handles and underneath the open doors.
The interior was really quite nice. The quality surprised me a lot. For a car that starts at $21,000 the MINI Cooper S has her impressive interior quality, comparable even to its parent company, BMW.
The John Cooper Works interior package on my tester helped with that, bringing a new different steering wheel, red contrast stitching, and sports seats. The steering wheel was one of the standout features, it was thick and chunky covered in high-quality leather and red stitching. The paddle shifters were also place perfectly on the back of the wheel. As something your hands are on during the entire time with the car, the steering wheel should be a nice thing to hold and the JCW wheel is just that.
The seats were also superb, offering an excellent blend of comfort and support. They looked great as well and, though made out of leatherette, felt really, very nice. Interior space was better than expected, though not great. However, it’s a MINI, you know what you’re getting into when you drive a car named MINI. As a new 4-Door, the MINI has a useful and spacious back seat for such a small car. Definitely more practical than the 2-Door.
The engine, a detuned version of the BMW N20 engine, also found in the BMW 320i, is a riot in the MINI. Packing 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, the little 2.0 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder and pull the car to sixty mph in a tick over six seconds. It pulls clean from idle with boost coming in early and the power rises linearly as it revs to its 6,500 rpm redline.
Not only is it fast but fuel efficient as well. I averaged just under 30 mpg the entire time I had it, and trust me, it didn’t have an easy life during its stay with me. After a week of hard motoring, 30 mpg average is very, very good. The NVH levels are also very good with no rattling or vibration. At idle it sounds a bit like a diesel but that’s my only real complaint.
Okay the transmission, the most controversial part of my tester. It was automatic, which is just not supposed to be in a MINI. Having said that, this auto worked perfectly well, still allowing the car to be fun. The paddles still allow you to select your own gears and they do exactly as you ask with no fuss. In automatic, it shifts fine, with smooth fast shifts both up and down. It also changes depending on the driving mode you choose. In Eco mode, it races to 6th gear for better economy, in Normal mode it just shifts smooth and comfortably and in Sport it obviously shifts faster and holds lower gears longer.
Overall, I would have no problem owning this automatic everyday and the duality of it makes the car great both in traffic and the open road.
The handling is what makes a MINI and this new one still delivers. The turn-in is sharp and the car is agile. It has loads of grip and truly puts a smile on your face, which is exactly what MINI’s are supposed to do. The MINI, while a 4-Door, still isn’t practical or convenient, but it is fun. It’s a car whose only objective is to make its driver happy. It celebrates driving. With it’s chunky steering wheel and accurate steering, sport seats, funny “Let’s Motor Hard” messages and raunchy exhaust note, the MINI Cooper S is an unabashed smile-machine.
All summed up, the MINI Cooper S 4-Door is worth every penny of the $35,000 my tester was, however it can be optioned cheaper and still be just as much fun. But the 4-Door model is more practical than the 2-Door and worth getting for any couple with one young child but still values fun over anything else.