2014 Mini Cooper S. Click image to enlarge
Review by Jacob Black, photos by Jacob Black and Jonathan Yarkony
“Mini, Mini, Mini, Mini – Mini Mini Mini Mini – MINIIIIII!” That’s my Mini song. It’s about the Mini and it is sung to the tune of the Batman theme. If you live in Toronto, you might have heard that being half-sung/half-cackled as I laughed my way around the city for an entire week behind the wheel of the single most fun-loving vehicle on the road.
Last year after my first drive in the 2013 Mini Cooper S Hatch I was so moved by it that I performed a happy dance. The 2014 Mini Cooper S Hatch invoked a reprisal of that dance – much to the horror delight horror [fixed that for ya’ –Ed.] of my colleagues in the office.
The Cooper S is still the raucous, frolicking, grin-inducing pocket rocket it was then, but this is not the same car – nay, nay. It has grown up. Matured, softened a little, yes but also learned some new tricks. And like most of us the Mini has picked up a little extra girth with age. This edition is 42 kg heavier at 1,252 kg. The steering is heavier and that dulls the sensation slightly, but the ride on uneven roads is dramatically better and the Mini now tracks more truly in corners. I could happily drive this for hours on end without feeling uncomfortable – something I couldn’t really achieve in the previous.
Turn-in is equally rapid but it takes more effort to get the 2014 Mini loose in the rear, this bigger, more mature version is far more composed than the old. If the old one was a puppy, this one is a puppy, post obedience training. Part of that can be attributed to the $50 performance tire option that adds 205/45R17 Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 tires. They have grip for days.
At 3,858 mm, it’s 129 mm longer than the previous model, and is also 44 mm wider at 1,727 mm. Height is up, too, 1,414 mm for the 2014 versus 1,407 in 2013. Those numbers are small, but visually make a big difference and the new Cooper S looks far larger than its predecessor. Wheelbase is 27 mm longer at 2,495 mm, and front/rear track has grown to 1,485 mm. The 8 mm difference between front and rear track on the 2013 model is gone, this one is now even.
The fuel tank is actually smaller – down to 44 L from 50. Curiously the base Cooper has an even smaller 40 L fuel tank.
2014 Mini Cooper S engine bay & 2014 Mini Cooper S dashboard. Click image to enlarge
The engine is bigger too. A boosted 2.0L now sits where the boosted 1.6L was before. Happily, the growth has extended to the power ratings. Power is up 8 horses to 189 hp and is produced at 4,700 rpm – 800 rpm earlier than 2013. The turbo four produces 207 lb-ft of torque at 1,250 rpm, up from 177 at 1,600 in the previous model. The increase in grunt is noticeable from launch, especially with sport mode engaged. You can get it with a six-speed automatic, but every time you do a unicorn dies – so please be responsible and order the manual. Thankfully the BMW press department are unicorn conservationists – so this one came with a third pedal. The clutch is easy to use but not as well-defined as some I’ve used, and the gearbox has an odd flaw. A few times both myself and other drivers found the lever sliding across partially into the reverse gate on hard downshifts from third to second, a quirk of Mini’s reverse-gear placement (extreme left and up) and lack of a ‘trigger’ to engage it. Once we’d stopped our fumbling, the gearbox was a joy to use, snapping home with confidence as long as the numpty at the tiller was on his game. The automatic rev-matching makes heel-and-toe downshifting unnecessary, but if you want to do it anyway the pedals are well spaced for it.