During the press preview for the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mini will take the covers off its completely rebuilt Mini Cooper, the mainstay of its brand.
Wayne CunninghamManaging 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.
When BMW bought Mini and launched its version of the venerable Cooper in 2001, the car was lauded for its go-kart handling and updated British style. Beyond engine and tech changes, that car remained pretty much the same for over a decade, Mini seeming to concentrate its resources on new Cooper variants, such as the Countryman and Paceman.
Now Mini is set to release a fully updated Cooper hatchback, the mainstay of its brand.
Beyond some technical information released by Mini and a few spy shots that have emerged, we don't know too much about the car. It will be built on a new platform, shared with parent company BMW.
The spy shots show a car that looks fairly similar to the current generation, with some styling changes. The hood drop-off looks slightly more rounded toward the front and the beltline seems more prominent. The car's designers don't seem to have overly enlarged the car, so it should retain its handling character.
Officially, Mini details a couple of new engine choices. The base model will get a 1.5-liter three-cylinder. Given BMW's latest engine tech, that engine will probably be as powerful as the current base 2-liter. A turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder will also be available, likely in a Cooper S model. Expect that engine to be the same as the one BMW uses in its newer 28-designated models, which produces up to 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. However, Mini may detune it for less output, as BMW has done with its 320i model.
Mini has also announced an array of driver assistance systems for the Cooper. It will get a head-up display, which appears similar to that being offered on the new Mazda3. A rearview camera and an automatic parking system will also be on the option list. The Cooper will also get a camera-based adaptive cruise control system.
The Mini Cooper will be unveiled next week at the LA Auto Show.