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A Mini-er Mini
by Jim Corbran
The 2012 Mini Coupé
Back in the olden days of the reincarnation of Mini (who still insist on all uppercase MINI-ing, but I’ll pass. Go ahead, call the Mini police), there was…the Mini. That was all you needed to say, because back when the first BMW-produced Mini rolled off the assembly line for model year 2001, there was just the one body style, a two-door, five-passenger hatchback. Then along came the convertible, and then the Clubman, which is a three-door, extended body, station-wagon-like car. Followed last year by the Countryman, a four-door mini-SUV, if you will, with a higher stance and available all-wheel drive.
Now the Mini line grows again with the introduction of the Mini Coupé, a two-seat version of the original Mini. Some might joke that the original Mini, with its not-so-large back seat, was nothing more than a two-seater with a cushioned rear cargo area, but I digress. The Coupé is an honest-to-goodness two-seater. With a very interesting roofline. Some have compared its look to a head wearing a backwards-turned baseball cap. That new roofline isn’t just a new shape, it’s also lower than the one on the hatch, but not that much lower to make getting in and out much more difficult; and there’s no climbing into the rear seat, so that’s not affected. Once you’re in there, indentations in the headliner regain what would have been lost headroom from the lower roof. Due to some different exterior trim, the new Coupé is actually a smidgen longer than the hatch, and it weighs 22 pounds more due to body stiffening. Interior dimensions in the front seating area are the same for both cars, as are the powertrains.
There is one specification (besides the deletion of the rear seat) that differs quite a bit between the two cars, though. That would be the price. The new Coupé has a list price $1,900 higher than the hatch. Apparently, looks do matter. And it’s my opinion that a good number of people will be willing to pay the premium for the Coupé. It’s a sharp-looking little car that will stand out in a world of Minis. After all, they’ve been selling the hatch for over 11 years now, so there’s a gazillion of them on the road. I think it’s safe to say that most Mini owners aren’t the shy, withdrawn type, so if there’s something out there to make them stand apart from the crowd they’ll go for it.
All standard Coupés come equipped with Mini’s 1.6-liter, 121-horsepower, DOHC, inline four engine, EPA-rated at 29/37 miles per gallon city/highway with the standard six-speed manual transmission. Just about any writer who has driven a Mini uses one word to describe its handling: go-cart-like. (Is that one word?) Anyway, if you’ve ever driven a go-cart you’ll understand. It has something to do with the Mini suspension and steering system, the short wheelbase, and that down-close-to-the-ground stance that makes it feel that way. The Coupé is even more so, or at least that lower roof should make you feel even more hunkered down. And as they say, impressions are half the battle. Or something like that.
Just like other Minis, the Coupé offers a John Cooper Works version. With a 208-horsepower engine, and an even stiffer suspension, your go-cart will handle even better as it goes even faster. And it will look better as Mini realizes no one wants to pay more for something without announcing it to the world. The Mini signature two-toned paintjob with a contrasting roof color is also available—a scheme that started decades ago with the original Mini to help it stand out more during international rally events. And it stuck.
If the new Coupé isn’t different enough for you, Mini has just announced another new model, a two-seat Roadster which will soon be available. For all of you true introverts.
More info at miniusa.com.
Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.blog comments powered by Disqus
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