MINI is credited with bringing the first premium compact car to America, proving that high quality and small packaging are not mutually exclusive concepts. Thoroughly engineered with a well put-together feel, all the Coopers in the MINI lineup are praised for their agility and fun-to-drive factor, and all of that returns for 2017.
The MINI Cooper hardtop now comes with a choice of two- or 4-door body styles, while each is available in either standard Cooper or Cooper S trim. The 2-door is also available in the high-performance John Cooper Works trim.
The basic Cooper version is powered by a turbocharged 1.5L 3-cylinder engine. While diminutive, this powerplant makes 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, more than the old 4-cylinder engine found in MINI Coopers of years past. Transmission options include either a standard six-speed Getrag manual or a 6-speed automatic.
The Cooper S adds an additional level of performance to the MINI. It's powered by a 189-horsepower turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder, and the Getrag 6-speed is standard. A 6-speed automatic is available, as are steering-wheel mounted shift paddles. Finally, the John Cooper Works is powered by the same 2.0L, but produces 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.
Four-door MINIs ride on a stretched wheelbase, adding more interior room, bigger back seats and the extra pair of doors. Overall, the 4-door adds roughly six inches to the overall length of the car when compared to the two-door. As a result, interior space grows in nearly every direction, with additional head, shoulder and foot room for rear-seat passengers.
MINI typically offers little variety between trim models, other than engine choices. Buyers are instead welcomed to option up their cars individually or through option packages, of which there are many. Being a bit of a premium small car, the MINI Cooper hardtop is available with several upscale features, including a heads up display, a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, automated parking assist, a Harman/Kardon sound system, and leather seating.
In addition, MINI's customization program is legendary. The automaker wants buyers to make the car their own and allows each owner to go beyond simple alloy wheels and paint colors by offering hood stripes, mirror caps, roof décor and a dazzling array of interior upholstery options.
Mini would like you to think it's saved the best of its third-generation Hardtop models for last with this 2021 John Cooper Works GP. Limited to just 3,000 units worldwide, the performance-focused GP sends the third-generation Mini Hardtop out in style, with aggressive bodywork, a more powerful engine and a reworked suspension making it the most potent road-going Mini to date. Yet it's not quite going out with a bang.
The first thing you can't help but notice about the limited-edition Mini GP are its additional exterior touches. The front apron, lip spoiler and honking double-decker rear wing are exclusive to the GP. They're all functional, too, providing additional downforce over the standard John Cooper Works Hardtop. The carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic wheel arch panels sporting each car's production number are also more than just for aesthetics, covering the wider track and optimizing airflow around the sides.
Combine all that with a Racing Gray Metallic paint job, contrasting Melting Silver Metallic roof and Chili Red accents, and the GP certainly looks like a hi-po Mini should. Sure, the rear wing and side panels may be garish to some, but you can get away with a couple of over-the-top touch visual pieces on a Mini. And remember, it's all functional.
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