2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop, an AW Drivers Log Car Review – Autoweek

28 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop, an AW Drivers Log Car Review – Autoweek

2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop, an AW Drivers Log Car Review

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ASSOCIATE EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: A friend’s utter disgust greeted me when I showed up in the 2011 Mini Cooper S. I hate those cars, my friend said. I tried to explain the appeal of the Mini from a driver’s standpoint.

But it was a dorky car in my friend’s mind. OK, fine.

That’s too bad because this Cooper S hardtop is better than ever with the small improvements Mini made for the 2011 model year. From a styling standpoint, there’s a new front fascia with larger fog lights, functional brake-cooling ducts, new side-marker lenses, restyled rear taillights and reverse lamps. Inside, there are redesigned audio and climate controls and a few small trim-color alterations.

The turbocharged 1.6-liter gains BMW’s Valvetronic variable-valve-timing system to bump output by 9 hp to 181 hp, which some will naturally assume would increase the car’s torque-steering tendencies. Mini thought of that, too, and has added an antitorque steer program to the car’s electric-power-steering system. It works. On-throttle maneuvers are easily accomplished with the force-induced four-cylinder churning out plenty of power with the sport button pressed.

Keeping things pointed in the right direction doesn’t require a death grip. Steering response is instant, with good feedback and weight tuned in. This car is easy to sling around and simply to enjoy.

The Mini’s six-speed manual gearbox offers precise and crisp shifts, and the suspension keeps things planted around corners while also providing enough absorption abilities for normal commutes–at least to me. Some may consider it a little harsh. As with all BMW products, I’ll have to take the run-flat tires to task.

They are annoyingly loud, and I recommend anyone who purchases a Mini to replace them right away. Replacing the run-flats will certainly improve ride quality, too.

For a small commuter car, few things can match this Mini Cooper S for the combination of fuel economy and fun factor. Maybe the Fiat 500 Abarth when it gets here? We’ll just have to wait and see about that one.

Later on that night when I left, my friend jokingly told me, Enjoy your car. I said I would, but then stopped for a second and looked at this Cooper S. With its spice-orange paint job and optional Mini Yours funky tattoo images on the side, I sort of understood where my friend was coming from.

2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop

Base Price: $23,700

As-Tested Price: $27,700

Drivetrain: 1.6-liter turbocharged I4; FWD, six-speed manual

Output: 181 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 177 lb-ft @ 1,600-5,500 rpm

Curb Weight: 2,668 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/ AW ): 30/27.8 mpg

Options: Sport package including 17-inch alloy wheels, dynamic traction control, xenon headlights ($1,250); Mini Connected ($1,000); keyless entry ($500); heated front seats ($500); spice-orange-metallic exterior paint ($500); funky Mini Yours tattoo ($250)

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