The 2012 Mini Cooper earns a strong Total Car Score in the Sport Coupes & Convertibles segment.
Topping the Cooper’s list of positives is a suspension setup and steering hardware that makes the driving experience a grin-inducing proposition. Then there’s the car’s stand-out styling and seemingly endless customization possibilities. Not to be overlooked are its remarkably good fuel economy numbers.
Even with all this going for it, reviewers have found a few nits to pick, starting with the interior’s quirky layout of the gauges and controls. While the front seats are plenty roomy, the cramped rear seat and tiny trunk make the Cooper a bit less practical than some of its larger competitors. The 1.6-liter engine under the bonnet of base models feels somewhat underpowered and the short wheelbase can make the ride a bit choppy over rough pavement.
With its next significant overhaul a couple of years away, the 2012 Mini Cooper gets a handful of minor changes, including upscale new options like leather upholstery with contrasting piping.
The 2012 Mini Cooper is a compact hatchback that seats four passengers. There are three distinct versions available, namely the entry-level Cooper, the sportier Cooper S and the high-performance Cooper JCW John Cooper Works model (covered separately).
All Coopers are powered by a variation of the same 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine. In base models, output is a modest 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S gerts a turbocharged version of this motor that puts out a more satisfying 181 hp and 177 lb-ft. A six-speed manual transmission is standard across the model line-up, with an six-speed automatic available as an option.
Standard equipment on base models includes keyless entry, air-conditioning, “leatherette” upholstery, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels and a CD stereo with six-speakers, satellite/HD radio and an auxiliary audio jack. Cooper S models add a firmer suspension, fog lights and front sport seats.
The options list is unusually long and features everything from appearance add-ons like racing stripes and Union Jack roof decals to performance upgrades including adaptive xenon headlights and a firmer sport suspension.
The entry-level 2012 Mini Cooper earns EPA fuel economy estimates of 29 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined when fitted with the manual transmission, and 28/36/31 with the automatic. The Cooper S comes in at 27/35/30 with the manual transmission and 26/34/29 with the automatic.
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