2015 Mini Hardtop 4-Door Cooper S First Drive
The Mini Hardtop is known for its go-kart handling, eccentric interior, and a wide range of customization options. So what happens when you slap on two more doors and extend the wheelbase by nearly 3 inches? You get the all-new 2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door that offers the same distinctive handling and signature look, with a few tweaks that have positive and negative effects.
The new 2015 Hardtop 4 Door is based off the same architecture that underpins the two-door model, but the wheelbase isn't the only changed dimension. Overall length has been expanded by 6.3 inches, and height by 0.4 inches, with the 4 Door standing 56.1 inches tall. With a starting price of $25,950 including the destination charge, just $1,000 more than the 2 Door, small families will enjoy the added room and three extra seats.
The 2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Cooper S features the same iconic look, but the two front doors have been shortened to make room for the rear doors. Other deviations include the vehicle's liftgate, which juts out more than the 2 Door model to accommodate more cargo space. Although that may be ideal for those trips to the store or weekend getaways, overall, the 4 Door feels slightly heavier in a way that starts affecting the sporty handling of the model.
While the exterior of the 2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Cooper S doesn't move significantly away from the smaller 2 Door model, the interior boasts many changes that not only stay true to the Mini brand, but offer a more modern feel that doesn't alienate as many potential owners.
The first thing that caught our eye when taking a seat behind the wheel of the new four-door Mini was the new infotainment system. While a huge round display remains in the center of the dash, the speedometer is no longer located on the outer ring. Instead, Mini has added a new lighting design that changes colors, which can communicate speed, navigation, changes to the HVAC system, and more.
The Mini's seats were comfortable and supportive, but some controls were not as easy to use as we would have liked. With manual positioning, moving the seat forward and backward was simple enough, but it's when we tried to move the backrest that we ran into some issues. The lumbar support is a turning knob on the side of the seat near the center armrest, but to actually move the backrest, you must navigate around the seatbelt to even find the lever.
The interior design was definitely appealing, with different trim options to choose from. The Hardtop 4 Door we drove came with the optional Dark Cottonwood open pore trim with a matte finish. Chrome accents surrounded the air vents and infotainment system, giving the new Mini a more upscale feeling. We also enjoyed the blue accent lighting that could be seen through the entire cabin.
Because some of the roads in Oxford, England, where we drove the car, are so narrow, good handling and visibility are virtual necessities rather than perks. The Mini Hardtop 4 Door offers sharp steering, which shows its strength through tight turns and blind corners, and whenever those sudden stops came upon us, the brakes were firm and confident. We enjoyed the strong acceleration and torque of the newest edition and, although the transmission was rather stiff, it was expected for the sporty Cooper S model. With large side mirrors and a clear view through the back window, it was easy to see around the tight bends in the road.
Pulling up to the rare stop sign or streetlight, we experienced the new engine stop-start feature that could be much smoother on the startup. The engine shut off almost silently, with little perceptible feeling, and as soon as your foot moves from the brakes to the gas, the engine comes back on strong with a slight jerk forward.
Our time in the 2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Cooper S was enjoyable, and we would have loved to spend more time behind the wheel. At $22,300 for the less powerful Cooper model, the newest edition to the Mini lineup offers a good value and a fun-to-drive nature. Competing against the likes of the Fiat 500L and Volkswagen Golf, the $25,950 Cooper S delivers more bang for the performance buck, and while our model was filled with additions including a cold weather package, sports package, wired package, a head-up display, rearview camera, and more, the price remained competitive.
With all the cars in this competitive segment, there are bound to be pros and cons, but in the end, it comes down to personal preference. While Mini's reputation in the United States for building fun-to-drive cars might not appeal to all consumers, the new 2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Cooper S should definitely be near the top of the list when looking for a roomy four-door hatchback that's got personality.
|2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Cooper S|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$35,000 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|ENGINE||2.0L/189-hp/207-lb-ft turbocharged I-4|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||158.0 x 68.0 x 56.1 in|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||26/37 mpg (est)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||130/91 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.65 lb/mile (est)|