Mini, as resurrected by BMW, has a relatively small lineup of cars, all similarly styled. The Cooper is at the low end of the lineup in the U.S., although the convertible top raises it up a notch, and adds to the price.
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Mini has done the best job of any automaker of bringing a retro design to market. The new Mini evokes a lot of the design attributes of the original, but if you put the old and new side by side, they actually look very different.
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As the base model Cooper, this Mini is equipped with a 1.6-liter four cylinder engine, making 120 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. In contrast, the Cooper S model adds a turbocharger to this engine, increasing the horsepower to 175.
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Four seater convertibles often look like bath tubs when the top is down, but the Mini Cooper Convertible doesn't suffer from this problem because of its small size. We particularly like the convertible's power operation, merely requiring the user to hold down a switch.
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With the convertible top, rear visibility is a little compromised, but you can get sonar park distance sensors on the Mini, which will keep you from backing up into solid objects.
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This half retracted setting for the convertible top works like a sunroof.
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Mini does an excellent job of making the Cooper handle well while not making the suspension too stiff for ride comfort.
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The trunk lid folds down, making access easy while providing a load area.
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This Mini came with sport seats and a special leather package, called Leather Lounge Hot Chocolate. It makes for a very nice interior, although, at $2,000, it is a bit pricey.
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Mini has a unique and retro layout to its dashboard, with the oversize speedometer in the middle.
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The multifunction steering wheel, with audio and cruise controls on the spokes, is optional.
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The big speedometer includes a two-line radio display along the lower half. Mini does a good job of using the limited space for showing MP3 CD contents.
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The six speed automatic transmission is a poor choice to go along with the Mini's small displacement engine, as it makes it more difficult to wring power out of it. There is a button labeled Sport in front of the shifter that remaps the throttle programming for higher engine speeds.
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Automatic climate controls are optional on the Mini. We like the retro toggle switchgear below the climate controls.