The iconic MINI Cooper continues to build on its broad cultural appeal for 2015, introducing a new body style that should make last year’s full redesign that much more of a hit. One of the smallest cars on the road, the 2015 MINI Cooper also happens to be one of the most engaging front-wheel drive vehicles from a handling perspective, a characteristic that can be attributed to its lightweight design and wheel-at-each-corner chassis. The MINI Cooper has long proved that there’s a market for upscale small cars, and with few genuine rivals it remains a popular subcompact choice.
Let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 MINI Cooper.
01. The 2015 MINI Cooper Stays Small
Although its platform grew somewhat when it was redesigned last year, the 2015 MINI Cooper remains one of the smallest vehicles money can buy. It’s true that parked beside the original Mini the new MINI Cooper is a behemoth, but a similar comparison with the current crop of subcompact cars reveals many of its rivals to be close to a foot longer and considerably wider. Despite its modest dimensions, the MINI is a practical option for someone who rarely transports more than a single passenger – especially considering that folding down its rear seat opens up 38 cubic feet of total storage space.
02. The 2015 MINI Cooper Adds A Four-Door Option
All-new for the 2015 MINI Cooper is the addition of a four-door hardtop option to the mix of available body styles. The MINI Cooper four-door doesn’t just graft an additional set of doors to hardtop’s profile, but it also stretches out the wheelbase by almost three inches in an effort to increase the legroom offered in the car’s second row (along with a slight raising of the roof to help clear everyone’s noggin). A seat has been ‘added’ to the back bench to give the car at least the appearance of five passenger capability, but we’re fairly certain that four would be the maximum from a comfort perspective.
03. The 2015 MINI Cooper Features Three-Cylinder Power
The entry-level edition of the 2015 MINI Cooper comes with one of the few three-cylinder drivetrains currently on sale in North America. The 1.5-liter unit makes use of a turbocharger in order to produce a respectable 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the MINI Cooper, while a six-speed automatic can be selected as an option. The three-cylinder’s unique growl provides the illusion of asports car experience with the go-pedal mashed to the floor, but it should be said that with a 0-60-mph time of 7.3 seconds the Cooper can hold its own in the subcompact segment.
04. The 2015 MINI Cooper Is Fuel Efficient
One of the big reasons for downsizing the MINI Cooper’s four-cylinder engine to a three-banger last year was the desire to improve the car’s already-impressive fuel economy. The move has been a successful one: when equipped with its six-speed manual gearbox, the 2015 MINI Cooper delivers 29-mpg in stop and go riving and 40-mpg on the highway. Even opting for the six-speed auto unit doesn’t give up more than a single mile per gallon for each respective measure, a feat that has been achieved without resorting to a less-appealing continuously-variable automatic design.
05. The 2015 MINI Cooper S Adds Performance To The Cooper Family
Unlike its more modest stable mate, the 2015 MINI Cooper S saw its engine grow, not shrink, with the latest redesign. The MINI Cooper S boasts a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill that is turbocharged to produce 189 horses and 207 lb-ft of torque, with 221 lb-ft available through an overboost feature. The Cooper S can be had with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes, is available in two and four-door form, and its additional grunt cuts almost a full second off of the base Cooper’s sprint to 60-mph. Larger wheels are also standard with the upgraded Cooper S (it rides on 16-inch rims), and the car also gains a set of sport seats to better keep driver and passenger in place during high speed cornering.
06. The 2015 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Tops The Line-Up
If the 2015 MINI Cooper S just isn’t quick enough for your tastes, then there’s always the ultimate expression of MINI performance: the John Cooper Works edition. Although official specifications have yet to be provided, the MINI Cooper John Cooper Works is expected to turn up the boost on the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine found under the hood of the Cooper S in order to squeeze out as much as 230 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of twist. Transmission choices would remain the same as with the Cooper S, but suspension would be upgraded to enhance handling, and the car would also gain a number of aerodynamic enhancements to give it a more aggressive character.
07. The 2015 MINI Cooper Features Generous Standard Equipment
The 2015 MINI Cooper comes with a fairly generous list of standard equipment. All versions of the MINI Cooper offer a trip computer, air conditioning, imitation leather sets, ambient lighting throughout the cabin, a CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, power windows and door locks, and the ability to cycle between several different drive modes. Cruise control and 15-inch rims are also standard with the car. MINI has tied the Cooper’s trim levels to its engine choices, so if you want additional gear with the car you’ll have to hit the options list.
08. The 2015 MINI Cooper Delivers A Long List Of Options
There are seemingly endless options available to personalize and improve the 2015 MINI Cooper. Those seeking additional performance from the base car can add larger wheels, an adjustable suspension system, and even stiffer shocks and springs. If safety is a concern, the MINI Cooper can be had with HID headlights, LED lighting up front, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, and an automatic parking system (or simple parking sensors). Comfort features also crowd the MINI Cooper’s options list: you can get the hatchback with keyless entry and ignition, genuine leather seats, a navigation system, heaters for the front two buckets, automatic climate control, an upgraded audio system, a panoramic sunroof, and satellite radio.
09. The 2015 MINI Cooper Doesn’t Offer Any Advanced Safety Equipment
Despite a copious number of optional features, you won’t find any advanced safety gear with the 2015 MINI Cooper. That means no blind spot warning system, no lane departure warning system, and no forward collision warning capability. That’s not to say that the MINI Cooper is inherently unsafe – it does come with dual forward airbags, knee airbags up front, side impact airbags for the first two positions, and side curtain airbags that deploy along the hatchback’s entire passenger compartment. Electronic stability control and traction control are also included with the MINI.
10. The 2015 MINI Cooper Is Pricier Than The Competition
There’s a price to pay for the 2015 MINI Cooper’s combination of style, frugality, and fun behind the wheel, and that’s its premium MSRP of $20,700. You’ll notice that this puts the MINI Cooper in a different universe when compared to the base Ford Fiesta hatchback (MSRP $14,365), Hyundai Accent hatchback (MSRP $14,995), and Fiat 500 (MSRP $17,145). Each of these vehicles is certainly worth of a test drive prior to purchasing the MINI Cooper, for while they might not combine each of the MINI’s primary elements, in most cases you’ll find either comparable handling, feature content, or style, at a much more affordable price.