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Video: 2015 MINI Cooper S Hardtop Review

03:02 min
By Cars.com Editors
August 21, 2015

About the video

A new four-door model joins the Cooper Hardtop lineup for 2015. It retains the fun-to-drive factor of the smaller two-door model, but how well does it handle passengers and cargo? Watch the video for more.

Transcript

(engine revving) MINI made small cars cool when the Cooper hardtop debuted more than a decade ago. Now, MINI looks to broaden the car's appeal with a new four door model for the 2015 model year.
The four door retains the nimbleness and fun to drive personality of the Cooper. But even though it has two extra doors and more cargo space, it's still not big on carrying passengers or cargo. The four door's wheel base is three inches longer and its overall length is six inches longer than the two door model, which gives you a little extra rear seat space and also a little more cargo room. Even with the stretched length though, this still has the iconic style of its two door sibling. The sporty, tight handling performance that's defined the modern era MINI Cooper is going strong in the third generation of the car. The turbocharged four cylinder in the S trim level is smooth and strong. The optional automatic transmission makes quick, unobtrusive shifts, and the suspension, though firm, isn't much more punishing than a Honda Civic's. I was particularly impressed with how planted and secure the car feels at highway speeds, which is very much appreciated when nearly everything else on the road is bigger than you. MINI is one of the few brands outside the ultra luxury segment that emphasizes unique controls in its interiors. You can see it on the dashboard and overhead console where these real toggle switches for ordinary features that in other cars would just be a traditional button. The car's defining design feature though is this large circular element on the dashboard, which is ringed in lights that illuminate in concert with the audio system, climate control, and engine RPM to name a few. It also circles the optional navigation screen, which has beautiful graphics and is operated by BMW's iDrive controller. While some of the Cooper's quirks are charming, others are annoying. The leading edge of the roof blocks your view of overhead stoplights. When you pull up the parking brake, it bumps into the center armrest, and the included storage cubbies are too small to be of any use. Backseat leg room is up one and a half inches compared to the two door Cooper, but it's still not an ideal place to carry adult passengers. The new rear doors are small, so it's hard to get in and out of the car. The backrest is positioned at an upright, uncomfortable angle. And even with the extra leg room, you still don't have a lot of space. My knees are pressed into the back of the front seats. The four door Cooper has an extra 4.4 cubic feet of cargo room, for a total of 13.1 cubic feet. And with the backseat folded, maximum cargo volume is 40.7 cubic feet. There's a small ledge between the folded back seat and the cargo floor, but MINI elegantly accounts for it with a height adjustable cargo floor that hides a storage space below. With each version of the MINI Cooper, the car has gotten larger and larger. And now with the new four door version it's larger still, which puts it at risk of being not really in line with MINI's small is better philosophy. I don't think it's quite stepped over the line though yet. So if you needed just a little bit more passenger and cargo room than the regular Cooper offered, this model is worth a look. (trunk slamming)

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