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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Cars.com Staff
March 4, 2009
Vehicle Overview The iconic Cooper lineup includes both a hardtop and a convertible model. The two body styles come in base and S trim levels, with S models being turbocharged for more power. While the Cooper hardtop was redesigned in 2007, the convertible remained through 2008. The second-generation convertible appears this year as a 2009 model. While there's no car quite like a Mini, the Cooper competes with the VW Eos, VW Beetle, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder and BMW 1 Series.
There's also a John Cooper Works edition that has 208 horsepower and more performance enhancements. The John Cooper Works edition competes with high-end sports compacts like the Honda Civic coupe, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Rabbit.
New for 2009 Electronic stability control is now standard across the lineup.
Exterior The design of the second-generation convertible looks enough like the first that the 2009 doesn't look much different to casual observers. The convertible has a powered soft-top that can be moved back like a moonroof or opened entirely. The most noticeable difference is that the roll bar, which used to stick up behind the backseat head restraints, is now active; it's visible, but rests low unless a rollover occurs, in which case it pops up to provide protection. The convertible gets exclusive graphite-colored 16-inch alloy wheels. Any Cooper can be had with contrasting-colored roof and mirrors.
With a 145.6-inch length and 66.3-inch width, the Cooper is one of the smallest vehicles available in the U.S. market.
Available 15-, 16- or 17-inch wheels
Available auto-leveling front/rear fog lights
Folding power mirrors
Hood-scoop intake (on S models)
Optional heated mirrors, washer jets and automatic windshield wipers
Optional automatic bi-xenon headlamps with integrated washers
Optional dual-panel panoramic power sunroof (on hardtop)
Interior The Cooper's interior features a center-mounted speedometer; that console also incorporates the audio system and optional navigation system. Where the convertible used to have a smaller but more legible speedometer, the 2009 convertible has adopted the hardtop's.
The convertible's soft-top works as it always has, with an initial sunroof action, but it now opens or closes fully in a claimed 15 seconds and can be operated at up to 20 mph. There's also a standard Openometer that tracks how much time you've driven with the top down. The convertible's cargo volume is more than respectable at 6.0 cubic feet. Lowering the top doesn't decrease trunk space at all, and the backseat can be folded to increase volume to 23.3 cubic feet, both of which are increases over the previous-generation convertible. The trunk opening has also been enlarged.
Overall, the Cooper is much roomier inside than people expect.
Cloth, leatherette or leather upholstery in multiple colors
Standard power windows and locks, plus keyless entry
Standard air conditioning with a climate-controlled glove box
Optional automatic air conditioning
Optional heated seats
Optional 10-speaker stereo with HD radio
Optional Bluetooth and USB/iPod adapter
Optional navigation system
Under the Hood The Cooper convertible now offers the same engines as the Cooper hardtop: a 1.6-liter four-cylinder in the base model and a turbocharged version in the S, replacing the first-generation supercharged four-cylinder.
Compared with the Cooper, the Cooper S has a sportier suspension. The Cooper S has a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds and achieves an estimated 29 mpg average fuel economy with the manual transmission. With its redesign, the convertible's mileage is up and its emissions are down in line with the hardtop's.
Mechanical features include:
118-hp, 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine with 114 pounds-feet of torque
172-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine with 177 pounds-feet of torque from 1,600 to 5,000 rpm, and brief bursts of 192 hp from 1,700 to 4,500 rpm (S)
Standard six-speed manual transmission
Optional six-speed automatic
Standard performance tires or optional all-season run-flat tires
Optional sport suspension with stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars
Safety Safety features include:
Standard side-impact torso airbags (hardtop)
Standard side-impact head/torso airbags (convertible)
Standard side curtain airbags (not available on convertible)
Standard antilock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution
Standard electronic stability control
Optional parking sonar and alarm system
Mini John Cooper Works A new John Cooper Works version of the Mini debuts for 2009 as both the regular two-door hatchback and the new extended-length Clubman. A convertible version is scheduled to arrive in April. Whereas previous JCW Minis featured a supercharged four-cylinder, 2009's models are powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 208 hp at 6,000 rpm and 192 pounds-feet of torque from 1,850 to 6,600 rpm. (The engine, according to Mini, can briefly raise boost pressure when accelerating to achieve 207 pounds-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,100 rpm.)
With the standard six-speed manual transmission, Mini says the John Cooper Works can hit 62 mph in 6.5 seconds (6.8 seconds for the Clubman).
Besides the extensive changes under the hood, these hot-rod Minis also feature unique 17-inch alloy wheels, high-performance brakes and a different exhaust system. As with other Minis, the automaker offers a number of ways to personalize John Cooper Works cars.
If those enhancements aren't enough, you might want to take a look at the available John Cooper Works accessories. They include a sport suspension with red springs, drilled brake discs, a rear spoiler, a suspension brace and carbon-colored trim pieces.
For a small front-wheel-drive hatchback, the Cooper S is already a blast to drive, and the new JCW goodies make the hatchback even more appealing.