The Mini, the ultimate iconic British car… When BMW bought the Rover brand back in 2000, they also inherited a symbolic piece of British automotive history. It’s been a while since BMW has updated their original Mini design and the new 2014 version marks a significant step in its progression.
A lot rests on its little shoulders, as the mechanics implemented in this new model will serve as a base for future BMW line-ups. Possibly the biggest draw on the New Mini is its price. For only £400 more than its predecessor you are treated to an abundance of improvements in almost every aspect. Want to find out what we thought? Keep reading below.
The Mini is no longer as small as it once was. It seems to be a natural progression for car manufacturers to maximise space, comfort and safety at the expense of compactness. At 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider, 0.3 inches taller and roughly 100 – 150 pounds heavier, it has grown a little since its previous design. The real-world difference isn’t aesthetically noticeable but the weight does alter the handling somewhat. The Mini isn’t so Mini anymore.
You will immediately notice a subtle new bodywork design which is both faithful to the original and somewhat improved. It’s still instantly recognisable as the classic Mini but just more refined. Everything seems slightly more rounded and modern, with the delicate alterations to the grille making it look that bit cleaner than before. The rear lights have also gotten bigger, similar to the Countryman line. If we move onto the Cooper S, then the changes are a little more defined. The front bumper covering the intercooler has some enlarged intakes either side, presumably to make it look more aggressive, and the bonnet has that same sleek intake scoop for sucking cool air into the engine bay. The differences are few and far between but the original is definitely more understated.
Functional yet uninspiring comes to mind when describing the old Mini interior, but this new model has made leaps and bounds over the original. The materials are of a much higher quality (no more cheap plastics) and the speedometer has finally been moved to behind the wheel. We realise that this was a homage to past Mini designs but it just makes more sense to have it behind the wheel! Another big improvement is boot space, which has increased by almost 25%. The new boot now holds 211 litres vs. the old Mini’s 160 litres which should make trips to the supermarket a lot more practical.
The technology inside the New Mini Cooper is equally impressive. Using the new 6.5 non-touch screen in the centre console (upgradable to 8.8 inches), the driver can navigate the various menus with the rotary dial and control different parameters of the cars entertainment and driving experiences. Although the screen isn’t touch based, the menus are well designed and the experience is very reminiscent of the BMW iDrive system… This is no bad thing at all. The system gives you access to three Mini Driving Modes: Mid (default), Green or Sport. Green is the eco setting and as such is understandably slower than the others, but does allow you to relax on the motorway as the computer handles the automatic gearbox. Sport mode tightens things up and makes everything a little louder, even giving you a bit of exhaust noise as you shift gears.
On the Road
The new Mini will be shipping in three versions: the Cooper, the Cooper D and the Cooper S. The standard Cooper carries a 1.5l 3-cylinder engine, which is one less than its predecessor. However, this new engine shares its pedigree with the upcoming engine in the BMW i8 hybrid car, which is a big deal indeed. What you get is a lighter, more efficient motor that actually performs better than the old 4 cylinder 1.6. Developing 134bhp, 16bhp more than the original, it can reach 0 – 60mph in 7.3 seconds. As a typical 3-cylinder it does suffer a little at lower revs, but once it picks up it packs quite a punch.
The Cooper S is the sportier version, housing an 189bhp 4-cylinder Twin Power Turbo engine. The extra cylinder gives it a nice push at lower revs and some good overtaking power on motorways. 0 – 60mph time is also impressive, taking only 6.4 seconds. Finally, we have the Cooper D diesel version, with its 114bhp 1.5l 3-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine. As all diesels are, this is built for fuel economy and has a huge combined mpg figure of 80.7mpg. Emission levels are also impressive at only 92g/km for the manual and 98g/km when using an automatic.
All models come with a new 6 speed gearbox which is considerably better than its predecessor. It comes in three choices; a dual-clutch manual, a manual with mimicking heel-and-toe downshifts and an automatic (with optional sports version). In the automatic, paddle shifts feel much quicker and tighter, with almost no lag between switches. The paddles are also now in the correct place either side of the steering wheel. Handling is overall very good, with all the agile, go-kart feel of the original, though the added weight does mean that it can sometimes feel a little heavier.
Overall, BMW have revamped the new Mini from head-to-toe, outfitting it with all the latest goodies from their vast arsenal. Even better, they’ve managed to do it without breaking the bank and leaving customers with a hole in their pockets. The new Mini goes on sale in March with prices starting from as little as £15,300 for the Cooper. Again, just to remind you… That’s only £400 more than its predecessor. Even better, the Cooper D starts at £16,450; only £270 more (£16,180) and the Cooper S starts at £18,650; only £465 more (£18,185). There’s a comprehensive list of optional kit should you want it, including lots of John Cooper Works extras. All in all, it’s a miniscule price change for a car packed with such cutting-edge technology. The online configuration tool is available now for those who want to take an early look.
So that’s our opinion but what do you think? Is this Mini as good as the old one? Let us know by commenting or getting in touch via our social media pages!
More 2014 Mini Cooper Images (click to enlarge):
More 2014 Mini Cooper S Images (click to enlarge):
Written by Tom Wellburn