After starting in the middle with the Mini Cooper Hardtop the brand grew to add the Clubman and Countryman. The Mini Coupe sets its sights smaller with two seats. Although this is a new car we wouldn't go so far as to call it a new car: The mechanical hardware, front sheetmetal, majority of the body structure and much of the interior are shared with other Minis, this one merely has a different roof and an odd trunk. A Roadster version has been introduced, also.
The Mini Cooper Coupe is based on the Cooper Convertible underneath so any style of top could be fitted and headroom is maintained. Like many Minis, the Coupe is available in three flavors: the most economical Cooper, the quicker sporty Cooper S, and the fierce John Cooper Works.
The three engines, the 121-hp four-cylinder, the 181-hp turbocharged S version of the same engine, and the 208-hp Works engines are proven in Coopers. The primary advantage of the Coupe S over the standard Mini Coupe isn't so much the 60-hp bump as the additional torque and wider range.
We found both the 6-speed manual and 6-speed automatics work well with both of the standard engines (121-hp and 181-hp). The 208-hp JCW engine only comes with a manual.
Fuel economy for the standard Mini Coupe with manual gearbox is an EPA-rated 29/37 mpg City/Highway. Even the Works hot rod rates an impressive 25/35 mpg.
Agility has always been a Mini hallmark, one frequently equated with kart-like handling. Only a used Lotus Elise can match the Coupe's sharp reflexes for the money, and the brakes square up the package. Minis are all about motoring fun, and the Coupe excels at this. Plus, you instantly become a member of the Mini club and on the road you can wave at other Minis.
Any Mini driver will find the cabin familiar, with a few additions and revisions. Recurring styling themes with unusual controls and instruments highlight the space and it remains functional and surprisingly roomy. Electronic options ensure your Mini will be up to date and often feel merely an extension of your smart phone.
With multiple colors for paint, roof, stripes, upholstery and cabin contrasting panels, some unique to the Coupe, ordering one to choice could make it unique. Mini offers more than 16 factory wheel choices for the Mini Coupe. You can easily run the price up to the $35,000, however.
The Mini Coupe's performance will likely attract drivers shopping the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, and Porsche Boxster and Cayman, but we'd surmise some 370Z and Hyundai Genesis Coupe buyers might find the dynamics enticing too.
The 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe is offered in three versions.
The Cooper Coupe ($21,300) is the base model. It uses a 121-hp 1.6-liter engine and front-wheel drive. It includes leatherette upholstery, air conditioning, power mirrors, locks and auto-up/down windows, 175/65HR15 tires on alloy wheels, six-way manual front seats, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, pushbutton start, adjustable-color ambient lighting, trip computer, floor mats and AM/FM/CD/HD/satellite radio with one-year subscription. A 6-speed manual is standard; a 6-speed automatic is optional ($1250).
The Cooper S Coupe ($24,600) uses a 181-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter and close-ratio 6-speed gearbox, and adds 195/55VR16 tires on alloy wheels, sport seats, fog lights, larger front brakes and a larger fuel tank. A 6-speed automatic is optional ($1250).
A John Cooper Works Coupe ($31,200) gets a 208-hp version of the S engine, larger brakes front and rear, the S fuel tank, 205/45WR17 tires, Works aero package, dynamic traction control and red cabin stitching. The JCW Coupe only comes with a strengthened 6-speed manual gearbox.
Laid end to end the 13 order pages for a Mini Coupe are longer than the car, and the assortment of body, roof and accessory colors, wheels, upholstery and trim combinations can be mind-boggling. The following gives glance at some of the choices.
Optional on all Coupes are leather upholstery; metallic paint; Cold Weather Package ($750) with headlight washers, heated seats, washer jets, and power-fold mirrors; Premium Package ($1,750) with alarm, comfort access, chrome line cabin trim, auto-dimming inside mirror, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, automatic climate control; Technology Package ($2,000) with center armrest, rear park sensors, harman-kardon audio; Mini Connected ($750) with navigation system; Sport Suspension ($500); Bluetooth and USB/iPod ($500); adaptive headlights ($100); rear fog lights ($100); black headlight housings. There are myriad choices in mirror caps ($250), instrument panel finishes, wheels, stripes and wallpaper, with a further set of custom parts through dealers.
Mini Coupe and S models offer a Yours Soda pack of 17-inch wheels, mirror caps, Laguna green metallic paint, scuttles and tattoo. They also offer Sport packages that add stripes, white signal lenses, dynamic traction control, plus sport seats and fog lights on Coupe and xenon HID headlights on S. The John Cooper Works pack adds 17-inch wheels, aero kit, dynamic traction control, red-stitched shift and brake handles, and JCW door sills.
Safety features standard include six airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes with cornering brake control and brake hold.