I finally found time to test drive the new 2015 MINI Cooper S Hardtop 2 Door, and it was the best 20 minutes of my week by far. Just jumping into the driver’s seat brought a huge smile to my face.
I’ve always been a big fan of MINI’s styling. The car is just flat out cool, not to mention once inside, it’s much roomier than its exterior would suggest. The latest base model is 4.5 inches longer, while the S model gets an additional 5.1 inches, which provides a decent amount of leg room and cargo space. The instrument panel has received a much needed update. Gone is the pesky, huge center speedometer. In it’s place is a pleasantly large navigation screen, reverse camera and media features. Moving the speedometer is one of the best things Mini could’ve done in the new model. While it looked unique initially, once behind the wheel, the huge speedometer was cumbersome and distracted from the road. The new configuration allows drivers to focus on taking those sharp turns the Hardtop 2 door handles so well.
The Hardtop is available in both automatic and manual transmission. I chose to test drive the stick, because let’s face it, this may be LA, but despite the horrifying traffic, there is still something to be said for the performance a manual transmission provides, particularly in a small, go-kart type car like the MINI. I found the clutch to be light and very responsive, with easy shifting between gears. Every MINI Hardtop comes equipped with 3 driving modes you can easily navigate between. Sport Mode adjusts the car’s setting for a stiffer, sportier, more responsive ride. Craving a softer driving experience? Green Mode provides optimal fuel and engine efficiency. The third option, Mid-Mode, lands somewhere in between, offering a comfortable ride with a bit more performance.
Overall, the MINI Hardtop 2 Door was quite impressive. While the horsepower on the 2.0L 4 cylinder engine is lower than I would like (the S comes in at 189), the cutting edge MINI TwinPower Turbo engine designed by BMW Group gives it a kick. The instant sustaining torque (207ft.-lb/1250rpm) also ensures peak acceleration. Couple that with the handling and the new launch control system and you’ve got yourself a pretty sweet ride.
The small size of the MINI also makes it ideal for city driving. You could fit this car in nearly any space in Los Angeles, which is quite appealing. The other added benefit is the gas mileage MINI owners enjoy. While the new specs on MPG are not available on the 2015 yet, my guess is it’s going to be just as wallet friendly as its predecessors.
What I really dig about MINI is the plethora of customization options. They offer so many dynamic colors, accessories, and interiors, you can build your ideal MINI from the ground up and know you have a unique car that will command attention on the road.
I’ve always been a fan of the MINI and after test-driving the latest incarnation, I highly recommend you do the same. Come prepared with your wallet though. You will be hard pressed to leave the dealership without one.
To build your own MINI, visit miniusa.com.