Big changes under new Mini Cooper's skin

Mini released photos and specs for its updated Mini Cooper hatchback today, showing a car that looks the same, but gets many new tech features under the sheet metal.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read
2014 Mini Cooper hatchback
Mini released details and photos of its new Cooper hatchback today. Mini

Mini previously released a few details about the long-awaited update to its iconic little Cooper hatchback, but today the bulldog comes completely out of his shed. The photos Mini released look very much like the previous-generation Cooper hatchback, but the press release reveals big changes for the suspension, engine bay, and cabin electronics.

One thing Mini did not do with the new Cooper was follow the example it had set with recent model variants, all of which are bigger, and not quite as fun, as the hatchback.

The new Cooper hatchback is bigger than its predecessor, but only slightly, gaining about 2 inches in wheelbase and about 4 inches in overall length. Width and height remain about the same. Mini also says the new Cooper is lighter but more rigid than previously.

This is a new platform and Mini has completely rebuilt the suspension for the car, also introducing intriguing new performance technologies. The new Cooper S model will get an electronic limited slip differential, and have the option for an adaptive suspension.

Old looks, new tech in the 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback (pictures)

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The driver will be able to select among three different drive modes: Green, Mid, and Sport. The Sport mode will affect the throttle and steering tuning.

Mini had previously described the new engines, but now has released power data. The base Cooper hatchback will come with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, using BMW direct injection and turbocharging technology to make 136 horsepower. That's 15 horsepower more than the previous base 1.6-liter engine.

The Cooper S comes with a 2-liter four-cylinder, also with direct injection and a turbo, producing 192 horsepower. This same engine type gets up to 240 horsepower in some BMW models, so it looks like there's room for a tuned-up Cooper S, likely a new John Cooper Works version.

Mini's photos show a new cabin tech controller, very similar to BMW's latest iDrive controller. A dial with a touch pad on top sits on the console, near the shifter. It looks like Mini has evolved and built on its current cabin tech offerings, with new navigation and its Mini Connected app integration system.

New driver assistance features include a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and even automated parallel parking.

The new Mini Cooper hatchback will be on display at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Watch this: 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop