Mini has created the perfect toy for grownups with the Mini Cooper S. It’s so fun to drive you won’t even notice the shortage of storage space, although other drivers might wonder why your groceries are on the car’s roof – but hey, what are they driving?
With its turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, you’ll be able to take on even your longest list of errands with ease. You’ll be zipping here and there and laughing at how easy it is to park the Mini – even in the most awkward spaces. With its small size and four-cylinder engine, you’ll use just a little bit of gas. I honestly don’t know how the Cooper did it, but after driving it 100 miles, the gas gauge hadn’t even budged! Yippee – the Mini offers fun and guilt-free driving!
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
Despite its small stature, the Cooper offers an abundance of character. I wouldn’t call it “cute,” because it does have some machismo to it. Actually, I think the Cooper is a flirt. The rounded headlights seem to be winking at you. The heavy doors smack you on the bum if you don’t get into the car fast enough. I think I’m onto something here.
Seriously though, the Mini Cooper S that I test-drove came with black bonnet stripes that add to its racy-rally appeal. Shiny chrome accents give it just enough sparkle. There’s a circular theme on the exterior that’s carried out subtly but effectively. Lastly, the Cooper’s low profile makes it easy for the kids to get in and out of the car without any scrapes or bruises.
Mini incorporates a wide range of circular shapes throughout the Cooper’s interior to give it a bubbly aura. It’s as if you’ve been dropped into a glass of champagne. No wonder Mini drivers seem to have an eternal “buzz.”
The control panel, with its exaggerated proportions, is centered between the driver and passenger seats and adds to the unique Cooper experience. Other features, like the window controls and light switches, sit above the rearview mirror.
The seats were a bit disappointing at first because they didn’t offer a wide range of adjustability. As I got more acquainted with the Cooper, however, I was pleased that I could adjust the seat height (I like to tower over my ride) and that the lumbar support was strong. There wasn’t really a center console to speak of, but the simple armrest that came in its place was movable – neat! But I really wanted the armrest area to have some storage. I looked for more places to put things, but soon gave up that scavenger hunt.
My sons and I enjoyed the dual-pane panoramic sunroof, which helped open up the Cooper’s small interior, but my boys were bummed that their portion of the sunroof didn’t fully open. Sorry kiddies; there’ll be no jumping out the roof on the Mini’s watch. Safety first!
Our biggest beef with the Mini Cooper’s interior was a lack of cupholders. There are two ample cupholders for front passengers, but none in the back for my Mini-mes. Other models do have rear cupholders, but our Cooper S didn’t.
At 5 feet, 4 inches tall, I’m short but not that short. I was annoyed when I had to keep reaching back in the Cooper to find my seat belt. Because I moved my seat up so far, I wasn’t able to use the side sun visor. If I tried to flip it down, it just kept hitting my headrest, which rendered it useless.
Like a responsible parent, Mini knows it’s enticing you (ah, so you did notice the little “sport” mode button, did you?) and plans ahead for your inevitable misgivings. Secretly hidden within its candy shell, the Cooper has lots of safety features, including six airbags, traction control, antilock brakes, Corner Brake Control and Latch anchors that are easy to find and use.
IIHS Crash-Test Ratings
Frontal-Offset (Good, Acceptable, Marginal, Poor): Good
Side-Impact (Good, Acceptable, Marginal, Poor): n/a
Rear-Crash Protection/Head Restraints (Good, Acceptable, Marginal, Poor): Good