For 2007, the Mini Cooper and Cooper S coupe are all-new, while the Cooper and Cooper S convertible are carryover models from 2006.

Overall, the Mini’s traditional shape hasn’t changed, but all body panels are new: the car is longer and taller, the headlights are part of the car rather than the hood, the window line rises further at the back, the side vents are redesigned, and all lights are larger.

New engines increase horsepower over 2006 levels; whereas the 2006 Cooper S was supercharged, the 2007 Cooper S is turbocharged. The Cooper’s five-speed is gone, as is the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT); all models now use a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic with manual shift mode. Traction and stability control are now standard on all models.

Inside, changes include a larger speedometer, simplified centre console, pushbutton start/stop and optional coloured lighting package.

The Mini is available as the Cooper, with 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder engine, and as the Cooper S, with turbocharged 1.6-litre I4. Both engines use a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic.

Features on the Cooper include 16-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tires, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, bi-Xenon headlamps with washers, heated mirrors, rear washer/wiper, front and rear fog lights, rear spoiler, eight-way manually-adjustable leatherette seats, 50/50 split folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo with satellite radio pre-wiring, and trip computer.

The Cooper S adds larger front brake discs, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, hood air inlet, chrome fuel filler door, dual exhaust tips, white turn signal lenses, auto-dimming rearview mirror, sport seats and stainless steel foot rest.

The convertible models retain their specifications as from 2006: the Cooper S is supercharged, and the CVT is optional on the Cooper Convertible, which bases with a five-speed manual transmission. The Cooper S Convertible uses a six-speed manual that can be optioned to a six-speed automatic.

Features on the Cooper Convertible include 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, automatic bi-Xenon headlamps with washers, thorax side airbags, electrically-operated soft top with tonneau cover, heated rear glass window, auto-dimming interior mirror, six-way manually-adjustable cloth or leatherette seats, and CD/MP3 stereo.

The Cooper S Convertible adds 16-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension, hood air inlet, twin exhaust tips, sport seats, and stainless steel pedals.

The new Mini improves on a package that was already great fun to drive, with a better suspension, slightly larger interior, well-done instrument cluster and improved ride and handling. Adding the six-speed manual to the Cooper is a welcome change, as is the across-the-board stability and traction control. Expect the convertible to make the switch to the new platform for 2008.

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