As of recent, MINI vehicles seem to be getting bigger and bigger, going against everything the brand stood for but going for everything that consumers are demanding. With the new MINI Clubman followed by the MINI Countryman and Paceman, it seems like MINI has forgotten how to do things – well, in a “Mini” way.
In comes the totally redesigned and revamped 2014 model year Mini Cooper, now known as the Hardtop 2 by MINI. The Cooper is the bread and butter of the brand but for the new model year it also gets bigger and wider – however there is one thing that is “MINI” about the new Cooper – a small 3-cylinder engine, and that’s not entirely a bad thing because it actually carries a strong punch.
As mentioned above, the 2014 MINI Cooper Hardtop 2 Door gets bigger for the new model year. The body of the new MINI Hardtop is 151.1 inches long, 68 inches wide and 55.7 inches high. Sitting on a new BMW FWD platform known as the UKL, this makes it 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider and 0.3 inches higher than the outgoing model. The wheelbase has also been extended by 1.1 inches to 98.2 inches, while the track width has been enlarged at the front by 1.7 inches and at the rear by 1.3 inches to a total of 59.1 inches. While the MINI Cooper Hardtop does get bigger, it still manages to lose weight and keep the go-kart feel thanks to BMW’s use of lightweight technologies.
Design wise, the MINI Cooper Hardtop 2 is still instantaneously recognizable as a MINI. Its design still reflects the 50 historical years of the brand but manages to incorporate a new generation look with perfection. In my opinion, the 2014 MINI Cooper Hardtop is the best looking MINI I’ve ever seen.
The story of getting bigger continues on in the interior with more legroom for rear and front passengers. Nonetheless, everything in terms of design and materials has been upgraded with a great balance of quality materials and retro styling.
You still have a huge circular display in the center that now includes a 4-line TFT display or the optional 8.8 inch bright color screen that houses the navigation, communication and infotainment functions. The whole MINI Connected system is now controlled through a BMW iDrive inspired one-touch control for easier use. The system is very easy to use and keeps in mind that MINI drivers like a simple and straightforward way of doing things.
While everything may seem bigger for the 2014 model year Cooper Hardtop, one thing that has decreased in size is the use of cylinders for the base engine. Power comes from a 1.5 liter 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo Technology engine making 134-hp with a maximum torque of 162 lb-ft (170 lb-ft with Overboost). Mated to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission, 0 to 60 mph comes 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph.
For those concerned with more power MINI does offer the Cooper S, which is powered by a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbo engine making 189-hp. While the Cooper S is a full second quicker than the 3-cylinder base model, I was very intrigued by the smooth and quick power delivery of the smaller engine. There is more than enough torque available through the rev range that allows you to push the 3-cylinder to its limits while leaving a smile on your face as you zip through curvy roads.
While the 2014 MINI Cooper Hardtop has become anything but “mini” – it’s still an impressive compact hatch for the city drivers looking for a fun, quirky, fuel-efficient vehicle.