While I’ve always enjoyed driving the base MINI Cooper (especially with a stick shift), I’ve always felt something was a little lacking, which is where the Cooper S desire came flooding in. However, with the introduction of a brand new engine in the base Cooper, I think this may be the very best base MINI I’ve ever driven. And in its current state, I believe you could very well be just as happy with a base Cooper as you would with an S -- and you’d save yourself about $5k (or more) in the process.
What is a MINI Cooper?
I think at this point we all know what a MINI Cooper is, so I’ll not bore you with the backstory. However, I will point out that in 1999, the Mini was voted the second most influential vehicle of the 20th century behind the Ford Model T, voted in by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation (a jury of 126 auto experts from 32 countries).
While that particular Mini is rather far removed from the MINI we see on the streets today, the soul of what the MINI is all about is still very much there.
2014 MINI Cooper Price and Specs
There’s no denying that, yes, you do pay a premium to drive around with the MINI badge on the front of your hot little hatch. Like designer pumps, sure there are alternatives for less money, but there’s a certain level of quality, pride, and user experience that comes with owning the real deal. That being said, the base price of the MINI Cooper really isn’t that bad, sitting just over $20k.
As it was, with a $2,100 Loaded Package (Sport Seats, auto climate control, Comfort Access, etc.) as well as a few other stand-alone options (bonnet stripes, metallic paint and Dynamic Damper Control), my tester’s total tallied $24,470. At that price, I was tempted to head to the dealer immediately.
At this price, you get MINI’s brand new 3-cylinder mill that’s turbocharged and good for 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Control can be had via a 6-speed automatic (meh) or a 6-speed manual (there is no alternative). Power is pushed out the front wheels, always.
Of note, after an approximate 500km road trip in the Cooper, I used just under ¾ of a tank of gas and was averaging 7.1L/100km -- that’s better than the Nissan Micra’s posted average of 7.7L/100km…
Driving the 2014 MINI Cooper
Here’s why I wouldn’t spring for the Cooper S: this new base Cooper is equally as precise, tight and eager, and willing to play; there’s no need for more grunt or pull. It’s got attitude, too.
Some might find the 3-cyl clatter of the engine a bit aggravating, but I love it. Like a little dachshund growling under its breath to show you it may be wee but it means business, the Cooper musters up a growl to go with its bite. There’s even a bit of an exhaust burble out the back, which only adds to the hot hatch's mischievous attitude.
Rowing through the 2014 MINI Cooper’s gears is a joy (if you forget that it will, like the Cooper S, rev-match automatically for you during downshifts), as revs build and foot-play between brake and throttle is second-nature. Steering is as precise as the gear shifts, as the MINI happily settles into whatever line you put it on. Torque-steer is nearly non-existent in this new MINI, something that always annoyed me in the past with the Cooper.
This truly is the best base Cooper to drive so far.
Inside and Out of the 2014 MINI Cooper
If you’ve had a look at my 2014 MINI Cooper S review you’ll know how I feel about the new exterior, so I won’t drag on about all that again, but I will take a moment to discuss the interior of the base Cooper.
So, it doesn’t have a screen in the middle or nav, but you know what? It’s still plenty luxurious. With heated seats, auto climate control, as well as an easy-to-read digital screen that’s blissfully visible in bright sunlight, as well as USB and AUX outlets and steering-wheel mounted buttons, there’s more than enough going on in this base model.
Backseat space is sufficient. Larger adults may feel slightly claustrophobic, but my son’s child seat fit quite well (once I squeezed it in the back over the front seats that don’t really go forward enough). And front seat passengers never complained of a lack of legroom, even with my son riding in the back.
Comparing the 2014 MINI Cooper
Now that the Cooper sports a nifty little Twin-Scroll Turbo, in my mind it automatically stands out amongst the likes of the Ford Focus or Hyundai Veloster. In its current state, I’d say the MINI Cooper will garner a new cult of loyal followers and drivers, as well as keep MINI lovers coming back for more.