2012 Mini
Coupe

MSRP:
22,000
MPG:
29 city / 37 hwy
Engine:
1.6L, 4-cyl, 121 HP

Now here’s a Mini designed for a sexy, single girl. Smaller, sexier and with just the right amount of flash — the Mini Coupe is like the LBD (Little Black Dress for those fellas reading this!) of cars.

By Petrina Gentile

THE BIG PICTURE

Mini is expanding its line-up, yet again. The iconic brand already includes a Mini hatchback, a Mini convertible, a Mini Clubman, and a Mini Countryman. And now, the family grows bigger with a smaller car — a 2-seat Mini Coupe. But this one stands out from its siblings thanks to its radical roof.

Is Mini maxing out its line-up? Will women buy a 2-seat coupe when there are more functional alternatives up for grabs? Sure — especially, for an active unattached girl on the go. A small car like the Mini Coupe makes sense. You don’t need a gas-guzzling SUV to get around town. And besides, there’s still room for Rover, your best friend, or your most recent beau in the passenger seat.

Let’s discuss the coupe’s new funky lid, which Mini-owner BMW dubs a “helmet roof”, even though it looks more like a baseball cap worn backwards. It’s jarring at first, but the roof grows on you after awhile. It also comes in several colors; contrasting racing stripes are also available, but cost extra. So you can personalize it to really make a statement. There’s no doubt, its extroverted styling is instantly recognizable as a Mini, but the roof is the pièce de résistance – a newer, “look at me!” version of what has already become a retro-styled classic. Plus Mini gets extra points for the rear spoiler on the Mini Coupe. It rises automatically at 50 mph and adds 80+ pounds of downforce to the back end. It also look really cool!

INTERIOR

The inside looks like a typical Mini. That huge, gigantic speedometer still takes center stage in the dash. Unfortunately, no cop will ever let you off a speeding ticket. Begging for mercy or bawling won’t work. They’ll never buy the excuse you didn’t know how fast you were going — not with a speedo like that in your face.

The two seats are comfy. My Mini Coupe tester has Recaro sports seats, which are also optional. I’d skip them — they’re too firm and I don’t like the location of the adjustments — nudged between the center console and arm rest it’s easy to break a nail every time you change your seating position.

There are no rear seats — replacing them is a parcel shelf, which is handy for storing your purse, gym bag or a few purchases from the market. The trunk space is large for a car this sie, with 280 litres (almost 10 cubic feet) of space, which is bigger than a Mini Clubman so you’ll be able to store sports gear in the back. A high opening tailgate and a through-loading system are useful for lugging skis and golf clubs, too.

FAMILY-FRIENDLINESS

A failing grade on the family front. But it’s not meant to be family ride. This Mini is designed for singles or couples with no kids who love adventure — camping, skiing, golfing, surfing and in general, the great outdoors.

Another bonus is you won’t get stuck being a chauffeur or taxi driver. This Mini gives you a good excuse to let late night revelers and extended family members cab it home.

SAFETY

The Mini Coupe feels safe and sturdy — more grounded and sporty than a flimsy Smart fortwo, for example. It’s well-equipped with safety features such as 6 airbags, dynamic stability control, ABS, and an automatic cut-off of the fuel pump in a crash situation. The John Cooper Works model gets dynamic traction control as standard, too.

GIZMOS AND TECH

There aren’t many fancy gizmos and gadgets in the Mini. But its retro look makes up for the lack of cool technology. The stylistic design touches such as the retro dash-mounted toggle switches are refreshing, funky and youthful. You won’t even find a sunroof inside — it’s not available. If you want to go topless, you’ll have to wait for the Mini roadster next summer.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

The Mini Coupe drives like its siblings. My tester is a fast and furious JCW trim which I’m driving in Furstenfeldbruck, a former military base northwest of Munich. It has a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 208 ponies under the hood. If that’s too much Mini to handle you can go for the base model with less power. I love the 6-speed manual transmission — it’s sporty with nice, short throws between gears. You can also chose between a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic transmission on the other trims. But I’d take the stick in a heartbeat.

The JCW is quick and agile with Mini’s characteristic go-cart handling. Around Bavaria the JCW coupe feels secure, agile, and firmly planted to the road. It’s a blast to drive. Plus, the Mini is an eco-friendly and fuel efficient ride. CO2 emissions are only 154 g/km so Mother Nature will approve of this ride. And your pocketbook will love the savings every time you fill up as the Mini JCW gets 25 city/33 highway mpg (the base model gets even better mileage!). Unfortunately all models take premium fuel – even the base Cooper.

Pricing and Trim Levels

The 2012 Mini Coupe comes in 3 trims — a Cooper, a Cooper S, and the John Cooper Works model. But the price is steep, especially for the JCW trim which costs $31,900. The Cooper S is $25,300 and the base Cooper is more reasonable at $22,000. But it still begs the question — am I better off with a more practical, top-of-the-line Mini Countryman, which costs $27,750? It’s just as fun to drive and offers more bang for your buck. It has 4 seats, 4 doors, and 4-wheel-drive so it’s way more practical than a 2-seater. But then again, I’d probably miss the funky roof.

MiniCoupe-1

Final Thoughts

You’ll love the Mini coupe if you’re an on-the-go single with an active lifestyle. It's fun and definitely says, "Look at me!"

The go-cart-like handling makes it a blast to drive.

The retro interior is funky and youthful.

Skip the JCW model — although fun to drive it’s expensive, especially if you add a few options.

looks
family friendly
fun factor

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