2012 Mini Cooper S Coupe Is Funky And Fast, But Is It Special?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the 2012 North American International Auto Show. This week, I’ll tell to you about the car that took me there, the Mini Cooper S Coupe.
This latest version of the Cooper model can be seen as a last hurrah for the current platform, since an all-new model is in the works currently.
So what does the Coupe have that the regular Cooper doesn’t?
Actually, the better question would be what the Coupe doesn’t have, and the most notable thing would be the lack of back seats. The back seats in a regular Cooper are pretty small, so for the funky Coupe model, Mini decided to get rid of them. So now you won’t be able to cram an extra passenger or two for a ride, even if you wanted to. On the plus side, the trunk is now much bigger. Do I see the lack of passenger carrying a negative? No, not one bit.
Not only will you be less harassed to transport people, you also end up with a vehicle that looks extremely cool. My family typically doesn’t bother commenting on any car I bring home, but this one got everyone talking, and they all loved it.
The love affair with this cars looks continued at the border. Crossing into the U.S., I usually get a million questions regarding why I am driving a car that doesn’t belong to me. This time around, the only questions I was asked were about the car and how cool the custom agent thought the Mini Coupe was. This happened on both sides, going into the U.S. and coming back into Canada. So if you want a car that creates a favorable buzz, this is it.
If however you want a comfortable, quiet car, look elsewhere. On the highway, it’s fine; it rides well and the only discomfort you’ll feel is from a high-revving engine (it cruises at 3000-rpm at 110 km/h) and some road noise. But in the city, where the Mini should be King, it is quite jarring. This is a very stiff car and if you drive through downtown Toronto, you will cringe and curse every time you go over broken pavement or streetcar tracks. So it’s a small car that isn’t great for the city, and it’s not exactly ideal for the highway. What it is brilliant at, is tackling twisty roads.
If you like small cars that can out handle just about any kind of supercar on the road, this is your car. All Mini’s handle well, and this Coupe model seems to take that to a whole new level. This is where the extra stiffness comes in handy and you can feel the chassis just working with you to tackle any twisting tarmac you come across. I love it.
I also loved its engine, which like in other Cooper S models is a turbo-charged, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, which produces 181-hp and 177-lb/ft of torque.
Couple that with its excellent six-speed manual gearbox which sends power to only the front wheels, and you get a car that will plant a smile on your face every time you punch the accelerator. You’ll smile even harder when you put it in ‘sport mode’, which tightens the steering and sharpens the throttle. So yes, it will tempt you to go fast.
If you do find an area which is ‘OK’ for going fast, not to worry about stability. The Coupe has an electronically controlled rear spoiler which rises up (at 80-km/h and goes back down again when speeds drop below 60-km/h) to give you some extra stability. I like active aerodynamic gadgets like this spoiler.
I also liked this performance cars fuel economy. Most cars that are fun to drive, will cost you a kidney to keep them running. The Mini Cooper S Coupe, even despite my spirited driving, managed 8.0-liters/100km during my week. That is extremely impressive.
Continuing on with its impressiveness is its price. You’d think a special car like this will cost a fortune, but a base Mini Coupe with the naturally-aspirated, 121-hp  engine is yours from $25,950. The Cooper S version, like my tester, starts at $31,150. The top-of-the-line JCW version with a higher output turbo; that develops 208-hp, is yours from $38,400. For the style and performance these cars offer, these prices are pretty reasonable.
So if you are the sort who does mostly downtown driving, look elsewhere. If however you live near some great, twisty, back-roads, then this Coupe is the car for you.

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