Although designed first and foremost a city-friendly econobox, the original Mini began its transition into a rally icon when it caught the attention of John Cooper, a good friend of Alec Issigonis, the man behind the car’s brilliant design. Cooper had made a name for himself by dominating Formula One in 1959 and 1960 with his innovative rear-engined race cars so he was no stranger to engineering. Story has it he noticed the Mini’s potential as soon as Issigonis showed him a set of early design sketches.
When we got a chance to take the new Mini Cooper and Cooper S for a spin around the back roads of Puerto Rico earlier this year, we were slightly disappointed to learn that our time in the S model would not include a third pedal on the floor. Fortunately, this week we’ve got our hands on the Cooper S with the six speed manual gearbox, which is connected to a twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that generates 184 horsepower and 201lb-ft of torque.
Now entering its third generation since the nameplate was brought back to market by BMW in 2000, the 2014 Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S now shares key engineering elements with front-drive BMW models coming to market later this year. While on the surface the new Mini may not appear significantly different from its predecessor, underneath the skin, the new Mini Cooper tells a different story.
In Acura’s television ads, the ILX is billed as offering a just-right blend of premium-brand luxury, fun, and down-to-earth practicality—a blend that, in Acura’s own words, invites drivers to “move up (without) settling down.” Given this, one might assume the ILX Tech Hybrid would fit roughly the same mold, but with a distinctly energy-efficient “green” twist, and to a certain extent it does just that.
When the Mini Cooper Paceman makes its public debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, it will be the newest installment in what has been an aggressive lineup expansion from the diminutive British marquee. Essentially a coupe version of the larger Countryman, the Paceman will be available in the United Kingdom beginning on March 16, 2013, for a shade over $30,000. There is no formal arrival date set for the US market as of yet.
Mini’s exclusive ‘GP’ badge has only ever appeared upon a select few Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works models–a mere 415 were ever brought to the United States since 2006. A JCW GP Coupe was rumored, but according to a new report on MotoringFile, Mini has apparently pulled the plug on the GP Coupe before it had the chance to see the light of day.
Regardless of history or tradition, this is not a convertible in the classic sense. It’s more of a targa top. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with that, but it shouldn’t be sold and marketed as a convertible. Call it a 500T. Don’t get my hopes up and then crush them via a glorified cloth sunroof.
The sheer level of attention for this car is more impressive than in any other Mini I’ve driven. People are intrigued by it, because it’s a serious deviation from a shape that’s become quite familiar over the past decade.
Finally, we’d have a proper test of our Michelin Primacy Alpin winter tires. I pulled out of work to dry weather on that Friday afternoon, and made it home in record time (people, hearing there was snow on the way, must have ditched work early to avoid a slow-go on the way home). I parked the car, and waited.