MINI Cooper 2014 review

30 Jan, 2014 11:00pm Michael Taylor

Our first drive review of the new MINI Cooper 2014, which gets a revised engine and subtle new look

Verdict

5
For only a £400 increase over the old MINI Cooper, this new model is so much more car for your money. You get one less cylinder under the bonnet, but the performance and economy leave its predecessor standing, while the expanded dimensions make the boot and interior more useable – although we’d wait for the five-door hatch if you want a family car. MINI has managed to make it softer and quieter, as well as more competent in the corners. We’ll leave you to decide whether the styling changes are a success, but there’s no denying the new MINI is a big improvement.

Despite the fact that this new MINI Cooper 2014 is built down the road from the Auto Express offices in Oxford, MINI chose Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean, to launch its all-new hatch. Luckily, the third MINI Cooper to be built under BMW ownership is significantly more efficient than ever before, thanks largely to a new three-cylinder engine family, which should cancel out at least part of our carbon footprint.

• MINI Cooper 2014: release date, price & specs revealed

The styling is an evolution of the current model, but a bigger leap than from the Mk1 to the Mk2. The bulbous taillights are reminiscent of the Countryman, while the rounded headlights are surround by an LED ring. That floating grille is supposedly a nod to the 1959 original, too.

Predictably, the MINI Cooper is not quite so mini anymore. It’s 98mm longer, 44m wider, 7mm taller and 10kg heavier than the old one, while the wheelbase is 28mm longer than the car it replaces, which brings with it some welcome extra interior space. The boot has grown too, from 160 litres to a more usable 211 litres (65 litres less than the Ford Fiesta) or 731-litre with the rear seats folded.

MINI Cooper 2014 front static

From launch a choice of three engines will be offered – a new 189bhp 2.0-litre turbo in the Cooper S, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel returning 80.7mpg and 98g/km in the Cooper D and a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol in the Cooper, driven here.

• Read our current MINI Hatchback review

Fitting the MINI with this new three-cylinder was a bit of a no-brainer really – it’s cleaner, lighter and performs better than the outgoing 1.6-litre four-cylinder - yet there was some risk involved. People expect refinement and sharp throttle response from their MINI – attributes not always associated with three-pot engines. Most, however, don’t share their core architecture with the BMW i8 hybrid sports car’s petrol engine, and that should have given us a hint. This new powerplant is extremely good.

Weighing in at 15kg lighter than the old 1.6-litre four-cylinder, it develops 16bhp more power and 60Nm more torque over a far wider rev range. Whereas the old engine’s power peak arrived at 5,500rpm, the turbocharged three pot’s maximum comes in at 4,500rpm until 6,000rpm. And while the old engine’s maximum torque arrived at 4,250rpm, the three cylinder’s torque peak hits at just 1,250rpm until 4,000rpm.

MINI Cooper 2014 engine

The performance figures tell a similar story. Go for the six-speed manual, as fitted to our test car, and the 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds is a whole 1.2 seconds quicker than the old Cooper; order the six-speed auto, and the 0-62mph sprint of 7.8 seconds is a massive 2.6 seconds quicker its predecessor. And that’s despite a 10.5mpg improvement in the manual model’s fuel economy, while the auto’s economy jumps by 15.9mpg.

It sounds terrific, too, has sharp throttle response and charges hard from very low engine revs, even up steep hills in sixth gear. In fact, there’s such a performance advantage over its predecessor that you can leave the new MINI Cooper a gear or two higher than the old Cooper and it will pull away at about the same speed.

There is none of the noise, vibration or harshness you’d normally associated with a smaller engine either, it stays smooth and quiet even when you’re charging for the red line. Above all, though, it’s instantly charming and gives the MINI back some of the plucky character that made the original so popular.

Everything about the MINI is new, from its all-new UKL1 chassis architecture (which will be rolled out across the MINI and BMW line-ups) to both its six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearboxes. The car now gets aluminium steering knuckles and its four-link rear suspension has been completely redesigned, which has helped the handling, but was mainly done to boost the capacity of the false-floored luggage area.

It achieves both aims, because on these smooth foreign roads it now rides with a compliance that belies its abilities to grip unusually hard and carry big speeds through corners. The trick MINI has pulled off is to make the rear end feel flat and incredibly well planted, without making it feel nose heavy. And that remains the case even when it’s being thrown around with all of its electronic safety nets switched off.

The Cooper flits from corner to corner and across broken ground with plenty of compliance and comfort on bumps, but without rolling around all over the place. One of the keys here, chassis development head Martin Gruber admitted, was that the new architecture naturally gave a more compliant ride anyway, so they could chase more grip without losing any comfort.

It’s a lot quieter inside, too, as well as being larger and more comfortable. The instrument cluster now hosts the speedometer and tachometer on a pod on the steering column, while the new multi-media screen is huge and surrounded by a ring of 17 LED lights that change between red, blue, green, purple, white, yellow and blue depending on your revs, your driving mode, your throttle input or which ever you think looks most pretty.

MINI Cooper 2014 interior

There are imperfections, though, and they largely centre on how difficult it is to navigate the multi-media screen’s dazzling menu array. The fold-down armrest also always seems to be in the way and there just aren’t enough cubby holes dotted around the cabin, even though the boot is both big enough now and practical in shape.

Disqus - noscript

I think it looks uglier than the previous models. The DS3 is prettier.

Pretty sure I'd buy one except my local BMW/MINI dealer is a complete **** and I don't feel like driving 60 miles one way to the next closest dealer - a family owned main dealer that has a GREAT reputation

From the front it looks like an ugly fish. However, I have no doubt that this will be a great driver's car. Previous minis were badly let down by their engines but were still the most fun FWD cars being made. Only the Fiesta came close.

I'm sorry folks but the current model is better looking car on the outside. Inside seems to be a different story though, looks to be a bit more quality on this new one.
Shame about the looks.

I like it very much, the pastiche design is far more up to date, the old fogeys won't like it of course, but not all cars need to be stuck in the past to please them. Anyway, who would want a car that negative old curmudgeons like?

I am trying to get mini dealer to quote me a 2 year PCP deal but they don't seem to have the pricing available. Probably better to wait 12 months and get a nearly new anyway.

Who wants a 3 pot engine when a 4 pot is superior and the fuel saving is not 25% reduction whilst the number of cylinders is !!!!!!

The trouble is that, judging from the pictures, stuck in the past is just what this is, with some rather questionable detailing. It is actually spot on for the old fogeys.
However original thought from BMW produces real stylistic horrors at present like the Paceman and the i3. Perhaps this is the better course after all.

Im sure I speak for most people who use this site. We are not interested in how good a car is to drive, we are only interested in how reliable a car is or how good it looks (but not both)!

I dont need another car at this point but this article has angered me to the extent that I'm now off to order a DS3! Yes it may handle like a bucket of sand but at least its not german! Grrrr!

Well at least you started your comment with an apology for the rest of it.

Disagree, it has contemporary styling cues and is in line with up to date ideas. This styling will really upset the fogeys.

It's 2014. Try and keep up.

After ordering a brochure from a Mini dealer, i was telephoned several times, written to several times, and emailed several times, all virtually assuming i was buying one, and that they had exactly what i wanted in stock etc etc blah blah. i ordered a brochure and got the hard sell, despite ticking the do not email and do not telephone options. I didn't want to buy one of the monstrosities in the first place, just take a closer look at specs etc, but my god, the hassle of getting the hard-selling pushy dealers off your back is apalling!

At least owners of the current model won't feel pushed into 'upgrading' by this. I know you can't change the design too much as it's so popular but I feel they could have been a bit more adventurous. As others have mentioned, the exterior looks could even be called a 'downgrade'. Also, I've never driven a pleasurable 3CYL engine, though I suppose if anyone can do it BMW can.

You speak for yourself, this is AutoExpress, you cannot take any car review on this site seriously, the only reason to come to this site is for a laugh. This is where the journos deliberately mess with the star ratings so they can have a laugh the anally retentive people commenting and getting upset as if it even matters.

It's 2014, generally there are no affordable cars that as a general case be classed as unreliable. The more advanced cars with leading edge engineering - the more expensive cars - are the ones that are more likely to need the dealer. But no specific model in general. Even the surveys are non-objective and there isn't a big gap between them.

And if you want to know how good a car looks then use your eyes. I saw loads of cars on the motorway today. Some were really nice.

It's subjective, but the whole car looks like a huge improvement in all respects.
The car has more interior space and uprated safety engineering. The 3 cylinder engine is lighter and more powerful than the one it replaces and manages to improve mpg and reduce emissions.

Car makers are adopting less cylinders and more power from less CC despite them being more expensive to make because they are competing with each other. More and more will appear.

I am still waiting for them to bring back the Maxi

Triumph can do it. Until recently I had a Sprint ST and it had a wonderful 3 cylinder engine...

Why would anyone produce "retro" otherwise than to appeal to the old fogeys. It's the automotive equivalent of Mock Tudor.

3 pot engines are actually very good even when they are not turbo charged, they generally have more low/mid range torque than 4 pots, they sound better than your everyday 4 pot engine, they are lighter, cheaper to service and take up less room in the engine bay. They do have alot going for them really. P.s I've got a little 3 pot in my aygo and it is actually is a surprisingly peppy engine.

I guess by 'old fogey' you mean in attitude rather than years.

Personally, I think this Mini iteration looks fussy (aka 'old-fashioned') with driver ergonomics that seem little or no better than previous models.

As for the ring of '17 LEDs', they may look cute, but do they add to the driver experience? Only a test drive will reveal!

In a simplistic world. Have you considered the Fiat 500?
The VW Beetle? The new Mini? Fogeys don't like them because they don't like change and they think only the originals will do. A bit like the negative cup-half-empty merchants you see in AutoExpress comments. They will never be happy because they are naturally miserable. Their comments are always negative. Don't bother trying to convince them, leave them to the flock wallpaper and flowery carpets.

Spot on! And the fuel saving may not be 25% over the previous 4Cyl, but the 3Cyl gives a power increase as well as a fuel saving in a lighter unit. Winners all ways.

BIG improvement... good job BMW!

My problem with the vehicle is not that it is a change from the original but that it is not different enough! I seriously doubt the ability of BMW to produce anything original that is not gopping ugly.
As for the FIAT 500 it is not for me but at least it is a reasonably decent pastiche of its forebear. The MINI is a seriously bad pastiche.

Except for the size from the outside this looks more like the original mini than any of the previous retros. But the interior is terrible and I thought those rear seat head rests were boom boxes!!!!

With the more larger Mini, I am surprised they can call it that. To my mind, this HAS become a Maxi!

Mini pastiche: Subjective opinion. Irrelevant.

162Ib ft at 1250RPM!
It is a terrifically responsive engine, offering lively pull from little more than 1000rpm all the way to its 6400rpm cut-out. There is a fleeting moment of lag just above idle, but the flexibility and vivacity that follows makes the peaky nature of the four-cylinder engine it replaces seem incredibly old fashioned. The new engine is also delightfully entertaining and boasts a quite extraordinary operating range, giving the Cooper solid acceleration allied to a wonderfully relaxed nature when pulling taller gears. - Autocar.

Of course my view is subjective; just like yours. Recent BMW designs, such as the Pacemaker, have a knack of looking even worse in reality than in pictures.

The new interior is a peach and the cabin is roomy and since it's a Mini it will handle like a dream.
The various comments about its looks don't surprise me. Mini is marmite. Either you like it or hate.
The only car Mini can be compared with in terms of retro looks is Volkswagen's Beetle. But that doesn't handle quarter as well as Mini and doesn't have such wonderful engines.

^ Typo. The new MINI is 44mm wider, not 44m wider.

I rather like the exterior changes, overall. The details are less fussy, though still overdone. The face - primarily because of the animated headlights - looks more buggish (like in insects) than it could have: fun to look at for a few moments, then tiring and goofy. At least the overall feeling is more cohesive than before.

The interior is, simply, still overwrought. What probably looked great in renderings and clay looks toyish in final form. The ergos don't seem to have improved enough, either. Don't think I could live with that every day. The interior is one of the most direct and palpable parts of the owner experience.

The mechanicals, though, are a different and welcome story. The move to a three is smart. And, like Ford's, this one seems to hit the mark. There is nothing wrong with better mpg, more power and less weight! And the soundtrack is said to be better. Looking forward to hearing it. With a better chassis and a bit more elbow room, this looks like a no-excuses driver.

But there are many rather brilliant rides in this category. And most are, ultimately, more reliable, offsetting some of the loss in value one might see in some of the other marques. I'd rather spend less time cuddling up with my service manager than getting back another few quid in 4-5 years. Particularly if I've spent, quite probably, much more on post-warranty repairs.

Great car, though, for many people. Yet another reason to rejoice in our good fortune of living in the golden age of automobiles. So many wonderful choices...

Maxi - yes please and the Princess

I know cars have to evolve, but BMW seems intent on making the Mini the most fugly car on the market.
Sticking with my 12 year old R53.

Still a reverse tardis for young chinese.

I'll reserve judgement on the looks until I've seen one in the metal: Some pics make the front end look very bulbous, in others it looks fine. I really think they've made the interior too complicated and intricate, though. They could have stripped it back and made it more simple, but not by just putting everything on a touchscreen.

Looks like it's vomiting. People will definitely laugh at you, but when they hear how much you paid for it they'll just shake their heads in shocked disbelief. Starting price should be £8500 to fit with it's competitors, not.... wait for it £15,000!! Gasp!! Ridiculously overpriced.

With regard to your last paragraph, you couldn't be further from the truth. For so many reasons, it's one of the worse times for cars. The car industry has become more & more boring as each year progresses. The golden age(s) are now long gone. Not only that, but with regard to choice, so many cars are virtually the same these days (there's no difference between a 3 series and a Mondeo), the only difference being the badge. The models & manufacturers have all morphed into one mainly coughing out diesel 4 door saloons & 4x4s which crowd our roads. Some manufacturers over style in a desperate attempt to try to make their cars stand out from the crowd, often making them look ugly. Years ago, at motor shows (and before political correctness put an end to sexy girls draping themselves over the bonnets!), people were genuinely excited - today, people wonder around aimlessly between showrooms, more concerned with arguing about "perceived image" whilst all the time knowing that the cars from different manufacturers are in fact pretty much the same. So what if cars are stuffed with more complex technology, it doesn't necessarily make cars more desirable or enjoyable - in fact it invariably has the opposite effect. Years ago, when Aston Martin brought out a new car, it was fantastic, but now, who cares if we have yet another iteration of the what essentially looks like the the same car. Years ago, Jaguars were really special - but today it's just not the same - the X type was a disaster for the marque. Gtis in the days of the 205Gti were absolutely fantastic. Ok, these days they're faster, but nothing like as fun. Names like Cosworth, RS, and Rally really meant something when placed on the back of a car - these days nearly everything ends (and rattles) in a D for "diesel". So many different, interesting and exciting marques have died, and today our choice, particularly for sports cars is comparatively extremely limited. There are a few exciting/interesting cars today, but compared to previous decades I'm afraid you're living in the boring age of the automobile and I fear that with regulation it will only get worse. So what is better?... well robots build them better these days, they're more reliable and you have a few gizmos like SatNav, but that's it. Hardly the "golden age of motoring"!!

To each their own, of course. But, having actually owned and lived with over 60 cars from sixties on, I'd say we've come a long way.

I don't get out smelling of gas. I don't break down. I don't have to fiddle under the hood or the body every weekend, whether I wanted to, or not. Handling - with the right car - is much better, particularly factoring in ride. I'm not concerned as much about getting crushed in an accident. I get *much* better overall performance: Even today's "warm" hatches are speedier, handle and brake better, are more efficient, are much cleaner (!) and are far more reliable than *any* of the much vaunted classics. A tough combination to ignore.

Each period has a "look" and follows a form factor that developed as acceptable for the time. Take a typical car profile from just about any era and without the visual details, they are difficult to tell apart (with notable exceptions, of course!). I rather like the latest complex lines and compound curves that were only accessible in the past (having been largely hand-made), to the rich. Headlights and taillights are becoming much more artful. And interiors - except for all those 4-wheeled appliances (which serve great purpose) - are more comfortable and durable.

Yep, I'll take the modern experience, except like you, without the gonzo electronics. Stop, please! And I fondly remember my Datsun Zs, Fiats, a V6 Capri, a 914, sixties Mustangs, etc. But if start to think about what the ownership experience was actually like - smells, bad noises, stuff falling off, rust, major damage from minor accidents, etc. - I'm no longer nostalgic. Having one around for a weekend ride is as good as it gets.

New Mini Cooper 2014 The climate control is not standard its an option. The manual aircon needs to be ordered at 0£ as well. The car does have plastic steering wheel no buttons on it and the alloys are 15 inch with 175 tyres even LED day running light are 670£.a bit funny the manufacturer is expecting the cm to upgrade for a loot of money,
be careful when ticking boxes on the options list, because extras aren’t cheap.

i had the test drive and you will not notice its 3 cilinder its as quick as the fiat 500 Abarth
and realy fun to drive

Key specs

  • Price: £15,300
  • Engine: 1.5-litre three-cyl turbo
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • Power: 136bhp
  • 0-62mph/top speed: 7.9 seconds/130mph
  • Economy/CO2: 62.8mpg/105g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Bluetooth, alloy wheels, folding rear seats, climate control, stop-start, keyless go, isofix seats
  • On sale: March 2014

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