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2014 MINI Hardtop 4-door

Still a MINI

The folks at Mini have certainly been busy these past few years, as they’ve attempted to turn the marque into a “something for (almost) everybody” brand, what with roadsters, wagons, crossovers, convertibles...and of course, the original—as Mini now calls it—Hardtop 2 Door.

Which can of course only lead to the conclusion that now there is a—yes—Hardtop 4 Door. That’s right, a four-door Mini which isn’t a wagon or crossover. Just a good ol’ Mini with a couple of extra doors cut into the rear quarter panels.

Well, not exactly. I found out first-hand just how much the same and how different the four-door version is a couple of weeks ago. Alan Reszetucha, MINI Motoring Advisor (and über MINI enthusiast) at Towne MINI in Williamsville was only too glad to point out the car’s high points before sending me on my way for a couple of days of on-the-job training.

First, the differences. The new car is almost half-an-inch taller, which makes getting in and out just a bit easier; cargo volume increases by almost six cubic feet; the wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer, while the overall length is up by 6.3 inches; and, as Mini themselves point out in their literature, it’s a true five-seater (what with a back seat area which is much easier to get into, and much roomier once you’re back there).

As far as the similarities go, the four-door, although a tad longer, is no doubt a Mini, with the same fun styling cues inside and out; and the extra size (both footprint and weight) don’t diminish the fun value for the average driver. Yeah, some enthusiast magazines have carped about it, but most of us won’t notice the difference at all.

My test Mini was a standard four-door in Blazing Red with a Pepper White top. It came with the standard engine, which is a 1.5L TwinPower turbocharged three-cylinder rated at 134 hp, and while a six-speed Getrag manual transmission is also standard, I went for the optional ($1,250) six-speed Steptronic automatic. This combination is EPA-rated at 28/37 mpg city/highway. Keep in mind that Mini recommends using premium gasoline, but using regular, while diminishing power somewhat, will not harm the engine.

The test drive began with an easy climb into the driver’s seat, and once in I was faced with a somewhat familiar Mini dash layout, although it was changed-up with last year’s restyle. The center stack is still dominated by a large circular pod which houses the audio and display screen, while a smaller circle (which moves with the tilt wheel) in front of the driver contains the speedo, revver, and vehicle status details (mpg etc). A clever series of lighted bars indicates fuel level, and the HVAC switches are beneath the center stack. Everything is easily reachable, and the controls all have a very solid feel to them.

Driving the four-door Mini is much like the two-door—the phrase “go-kart handling” still applies. Steering is quick and precise, with good feel both out on the open road and around town. Stomping the gas brings the three-pot motor to life for passing maneuvers, stop-light getaways, or just plain fun. And now you can do it with your two closest friends (or your three skinniest acquaintances) along for the ride in the back seat.

Pricing for the Mini four-door starts at $21,700. The Cooper S model, with a larger engine, better suspension, and nicer interior starts at $25,100 and has a top speed of 189 mph. There are a host of options and option packages available to customize your Mini four-door. Clicking on the website’s “build” button brings up the message “Loading over ten million possible combinations.” After playing around with it for a while, I settled on a Cooper S in Moonwalk Gray with a black roof and 17-inch black Cosmos Spoke wheels.

Only 9,999,999 more to view.

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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