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Category Archives: Mini

What I think: 2015 Mini Cooper S five-door

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Hardcore fans of the modern Mini Cooper tend to turn up their noses at any Mini model that’s not the original hatchback. But of the many variants that now exist, this five-door proves it is possible to add practicality without watering down the Cooper S’ fun-to-drive nature. Check out my review at Autofocus.ca.

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What I think: 2015 Mini Cooper Countryman

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Just like the Porsche Macan I reviewed a few weeks ago, the Mini Countryman is yet another automaker’s attempt to break into the lucrative upscale compact crossover segment. This one is fun, but it’s expensive and noisy inside. For nearly $40,000, there are more refined small crossovers that represent better value for money. Read my review at Autofocus.ca.

 
 

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Straight Eight: 2014 Mini Cooper

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1. New look
What you see here is the third generation of the “new” Mini Cooper. Base price is $20,900; options in my tester ran that up to $24,470. Its larger, bulky-looking exterior is polarizing; personally, I prefer the looks of the previous car.

2. Big comfort
I day-tripped this one from Ottawa to a friend’s house on the east side of Toronto, and after the eight-hour round-trip, I was less tired than I have been after long drives in more luxurious cars.

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3. Great soundtrack
Entry-level models use a new turbocharged three-cylinder engine that’s more powerful than the four-cylinder in last year’s base car, and it produces an adorable, hilarious symphony of turbo-related whooshes, whistles and sighs as you accelerate and brake your way around city streets.

4. Thrifty shifting
That extra power is tempered by “taller” gearing that keeps engine speeds low, and bumps fuel economy up: my test car averaged 8.0 L/100 km in the city, and 5.0 L/100 km in highway driving at an average speed of just under 100 km/h.

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5. All grown up, sadly
There was an urgency to the previous Cooper’s driving feel. Where’d it go? The new one is still fun to drive, with a nice balance in turns and sharp steering, but on the whole it feels softer and more relaxed.

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6. Rev me up
The manual transmission has a rev-match downshift function that makes you feel like a superstar driver every time you downshift for a corner, and generates more of the engine’s fun noises. However, I prefer doing this myself when I drive a stickshift, and I couldn’t find any way to disable it.

7. The fun switch
Toggle the car into sport mode: throttle sensitivity goes way up, and you discover that this is the best way to experience this car. Sport mode also firms up the optional adjustable suspension ($500!), but this makes the car uncomfortable on rough roads. Thankfully, you can set it to leave the suspension alone.

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8. Dude, where’s my speedo?
You’ll notice some changes inside. I like that there’s a bit more space, and that the electric window controls now live on the doors. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss the massive speedo in the middle of the dash that was legible from three cars back and two lanes over.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Mini, Straight Eight

 

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The 2013 Mini Cooper JCW convertible, and a guy named Marty

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This is Marty. I met him one August evening when he spotted me pulling my Mini Cooper S JCW convertible test car into the parking lot of a local shopping plaza. Marty’s a British ex-pat, from the City of Oxford, where BMW builds the modern Mini Cooper. He likes the car for that reason, but also because (unsurprisingly) he’s a fan of British cars in general. Not that this one is actually British in any way but its name, but whatever: he’d never so much as sat in one of these cars, so I took him for a quick spin to show off how nicely it goes.

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As a car reviewer, I’m supposed to be objective, but I was a car enthusiast first and I have no problem admitting that I *love* the Mini Cooper – even when it costs nearly $50,000, as this particular one does.

As great as this particular car is – the JCW boasts 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, a bump up from the Cooper S’ 181 hp and 177 lb-ft – it’s really hard to justify at $50,000. In fact, you’d do just fine with a base model, with its 121-hp motor. As nice as the Cooper S’ turbo engine is, the car’s go-kart handling is the point, rather than straight-line performance.

Outrageous price aside, a week with this one helped cement the Mini Cooper’s place on my short-list of cars I’d like to own at some point.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Convertibles, Mini

 

What I think: 2012 Mini Cooper S coupe

I love the Mini Cooper hatchback. From its great proportions and stellar handling to its compact size, useful interior and great fuel economy, it’s just about the perfect choice for anyone who wants an economical and truly entertaining small car, providing you can swallow its premium price tag.

But a car brand can rarely survive on one model alone. That’s why Mini added a convertible (2005), the wagon-like Clubman (2008), the Countryman crossover (2011) and most recently, this car, the Cooper coupe.

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What I think: Buying a used Mini Cooper

Click here for my opinion on buying a used BMW-built Mini Cooper. Arguably the best-looking and most entertaining car in its price range when it debuted in 2002, it’s too bad it’s had more than its share of mechanical problems, both major and minor.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Compact cars, Mini