Friday, May 10, 2013

First Drive: 2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop

Mini was originally a brand of small cars owned by the British Leyland Motor Corporation. The Mini brand was created  in 1969 and was owned by British Leyland from 1969 until 1986, when British Leyland was broken up. Mini was a part of Rover Group from 1986 until 1988, when Rover Group, including the Mini brand, was acquired by British Aerospace. In 1994, BWM acquired Rover Group, including the Mini brand. In 2000, BMW broke up Rover Group, but BMW retained the Mini brand. While the Mini brand was around since 1969, the original two-door Mini car was created in 1959 and was in production until 2000. In 2001, an new Mini was created. This Mini was a three-door hatchback with a front engine, front-wheel drive layout. This new Mini is known as the Mini Cooper Hatchback, or Mini Cooper Hardtop in the United States. The second generation Mini Hardtop went into production in 2006. During one Saturday in February 2013, I went by a Mini dealership and test drove a Mini Cooper Hardtop. I also test drove the Mini Cooper Countryman. The Hardtop I drove came with a six-speed automatic transmission  The Hardtop is also available with a six-speed manual transmission. There is also a version of the Hardtop that comes with a turbocharged engine called the Mini Cooper S Hardtop.

The Hardtop has a modern small sports hatchback styling, but it still pays homage to the classic Mini. The Hardtop has a small, yet sporty grill and front bumper. The grill on the Hardtop is shorter than the grill on the classic Mini. The Hardtop also has a sporty interior, but there are a few touches taken from the classic Mini. There is a speedometer located on the dashboard, between the driver and front passenger seats. This is a feature taken from the classic Mini. Current Mini Coopers have a turn indicator lever with two positions. If you just push the lever and release it, the turn indicator will blink for three seconds. This is helpful when turning lanes. The seat has a sporty feel to it. It is not soft, but it is not firm enough to be uncomfortable. I had decent headroom and leg room. This is a small car and there is not much room in the rear for adult passengers.

The Mini Cooper Hardtop is powered by a 1.6L I4 engine that produces 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 126 mph. The Hardtop has a sporty feel to it. The suspension is firm. The Hardtop has some zip to it. It is very responsive when I turn the wheel. It also has good throttle response. Prices for the Mini Cooper Hardtop start at $20,400. That is not bad for a small, sporty hatchback.

Overall, the Mini Cooper Hardtop is a great small car. As far as non-turbocharged city cars go, this is the best performing car in the class. Most city cars go from 0 to 60 mph in over 9 seconds. For a city car, the Mini Cooper Hardtop is quick and sporty. I like the styling of the Hardtop. It has a modern small hatch styling with some touches that pay homage to the classic Mini car. Most of all, the Mini Cooper Hardtop is a fun car to drive. It also has a reasonable starting price of just $20,400. If you are looking for a small sporty hatchback with solid performance and is fun to drive, give the Mini Cooper Hardtop a test drive. If you want a more performance from a small car, there is the Mini Cooper S Hardtop that is powered by a turbocharged I4 engine. The Mini Cooper Hardtop is one of the best city cars you can buy.

Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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