2012 Mini Coupe
2012 Mini Coupe. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2012 Mini Coupe

Nashville, Tennessee – Ten years after the introduction of the “new” Mini in 2002, the fifth variant of this popular luxury compact — the 2012 Mini Coupé — debuts in October. Mini entered the market with a four-seat hatch, added a convertible, and followed that with the Clubman wagon and Countryman AWD. There are more variations to come, we’re told, with the Coupé representing the first production two-seat version in the re-launched brand’s history.

The Coupé follows the Mini model “ladder,” starting at $25,950 for the Cooper, rising to $31,150 for the Cooper S, with the highest performance John Cooper Works (JCW) version available at $38,400. Compared with the Mini Hatch, the Coupé costs $2,000, $2,200 and $1,500 more for each version respectively.

2012 Mini Coupe
2012 Mini Coupe
2012 Mini Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Not that the Coupé itself isn’t a hatchback, by the way, because it is. The capitalized “Hatch” refers to the four-seat model; Coupés have two seats and the distinctive roof.

While the Mini Coupé has several other distinctive features, it’s the roof that is the most extravagant. Described by Mini as a “helmet” roof, it certainly is different, but although this type of roof lowers the height of the Mini by 29 millimeters, headroom inside the car is reduced by only 10 mm. Recessed coves over the driver and passenger seats preserve most of the headroom for occupants (no sunroof is available, however).

Another distinctive feature of the Mini Coupé is its “three-box” (or “three compartment”) design. All Mini models to date have been “two-box” vehicles, referring to the “box” that contains the engine and the “box” that serves as the cabin (this is the typical hatchback configuration). The Mini Coupé breaks the pattern by adding a third “box” behind the cabin in the form of a trunk-like cargo area (could a sedan be far behind?).

The rakish look of the Mini Coupé is achieved by angling the front windshield back by 13 degrees and integrating a passive rear spoiler into the roof helmet design. Due to the aerodynamics achieved, a rear wiper is not required, and a second “active” rear spoiler (another Mini “first”) rises to provide downforce at 80 km/h, and lowers at 60 km/h (it can also be operated remotely by the driver).

2012 Mini Coupe
2012 Mini Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The result is a top speed of 238 km/h for the JCW Coupé, making it the fastest production Mini ever. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h in the JCW is also a Mini benchmark at 6.4 seconds, with the Cooper able to exceed 200 km/h (203, to be precise) and accelerate to 100 km/h in 9.0 seconds. The Cooper S manages a top speed of 227 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of 6.9 seconds.

The choice of engines for the Mini Coupé duplicates available options across the Mini range. In the Cooper, power is supplied by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder engine with variable valve management (similar to BMW’s Valvetronic system) that makes 121 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 118 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. Canadian fuel consumption figures are not yet available, but should equal or better the Hatch model.

The Cooper S receives a turbocharged version of this engine with gasoline direct injection making 181 hp at 5,100 rpm, and 177 lb.-ft. of torque from as low as 1,600 rpm (an overboost function permits brief bursts at 198 lb.-ft of torque). The JCW version produces 208 hp at 6,000 rpm and and 192 lb.-ft. of torque (207 lb.-ft with overboost).

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