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2014 Mini Cooper S First Drive By Henny Hemmes

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico. January 31, 2014. As announced in the report of my first drive with the new Mini Cooper , I also drove the Cooper S. This is the model I have been looking forward to most, but I have to admit that the regular Cooper is surprisingly good: all-round, I should say, for general use and entertaining as well. But if you are especially interested in the true go-kart-feel that is embedded in Mini’s history, the Cooper S is the model that will offer most fun. For the time being, as it is the top model of the Hardtop line up – in other parts of the world we call this model hatchback - that will arrive at the dealers by mid March. That this model is the first of the new generation to reach worldwide markets is no surprise, as the Hardtop is Mini’s best selling model, with 40 percent of the total sales in the US last year.

An extra cylinder

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Its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has a cylinder capacity of 1,998, 400 cc more than the outgoing Cooper S. Why 400 cc more? It is the same engine design as of the 3-cylinder but with one cylinder extra. Or in fact, one cylinder has been cut for the 3-cyl. variant. Using the same configuration makes sense both cost wise as well as production wise by offering more flexibility in the plant.

The direct-injected 2.0-liter twin-power turbocharged motor produces 192 hp at 4,500 rpm with 207 pound-feet of torque between 1,250 and 4,500 rpm. This means horsepower is down by 19 hp, but the maximum is reached some 1,000 to 1,500 revs earlier. Torque is up 15 lb-ft and reaches its maximum not only at lower rpm, but also at lower revs. In both cases the torque has been available until 4,500 rpm.

Mini states a top speed of 146 mph, or an acceleration time from 0-60 mph in 6.5 for the version with manual 6-speed transmission and 6.4 sec when the engine is teamed to the 6-speed automatic. Both transmissions are new and the automatic is available for all engine variants. They are lighter and add to considerable fuel reduction.

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Equipped like a BMW 7 Series The exterior of the Cooper S is recognizable by small styling details, such as the deeper front bumper with a larger horizontal air duct, the typically S hood scoop, wider door sills and of course S badges. The radiator grille of the in volcanic orange painted test car is somewhat too busy but it is part of the chrome pack, so when you do not like it there is an option not to take that option. The cockpit design is the same as in the Cooper and offers major improvements with the relocation of the odometer behind the leather steering wheel, now together with the rev counter on the left and the on the right side. The excellent seats are covered with a different material, but there is not much that makes you aware you are sitting in the S-portiest model.

I love head-up displays and now it is available for all new Mini models. Excellent. There are many options. In fact you can order your new Mini with exactly the same equipment that is offered on a BMW 7 Series, “except for the 12-cylinder motor” according to a colleague. Available are Dynamic Damper Control, Fading Brake Support and Dynamic Traction Control, Electronic Differential Lock Control, Dynamic Assistant, pedestrian detection, rear view camera and parking assistant, LED headlamps with adaptive light distribution, LED turning light and 18-inch wheels. And let’s nor forget to mention that the apps for Mini Connected are also available for Android smart phones.

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In the driver’s seat
The engine is brought to life with a toggle in the panel just above the center console, so you can keep you key in your pocket. The 4-cylinder is eager and responds quickly to throttle input, but feels a bit less flexible than its 3-cylinder derivate. But it may be just a different feeling, as the Cooper S has the automatic transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel.

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With the new suspension and the possibility for the first time of choosing between Sport, Mid and Green mode, we experienced an absolutely nice drive. The car behaves well in corners and stays put without the slightest tendency of under steer. When asked, Martin Gruber, responsible for the chassis development, said that the Cooper S has new hollow anti-roll bars and the one up front has a 2 mm larger diameter then before. Also spring rates are different from the Cooper. The combination allows for excellent cornering speed and great stability.

The steering has been improved and now does not only feel more direct, bus also lighter at lower speed without the tendency to seek the center position. Concluding, the new Mini Cooper s is more mature and above all offers a lot of driving fun. The new feature Mini Connected, as described in the first drive review of the Cooper will undoubtedly be discussed upon by the 4 million Mini-fans on Facebook.

Technical details Mini Cooper S Automatic

Engine	4-cylinders, turbocharged
Capacity	1,998 cc
Power	192 hp @ 4,700
Torque	206 lb-ft @ 1,259-4,500 rpm
Transmission	6-speed automatic
Acceleration 0-60 mph	6.4 sec (manual 6.5 sec)
Top speed	145 mph (manual 146 mph)
Fuel cons. city/highw/comb.(est.)	28/40/32 54 mpg (manual 23/37/28 mpg)
CO2-emission	122-125 g/km (manual 133-136 g/km)
Price (from)	$ 23,600 (excl. $ 795 dest. and handling)