AT THE WHEEL REVIEWS: PERFORMANCE
2007 MINI COOPER S: S IS FOR SWEET!
By Les Jackson Cruise Control Radio.com
The last one of these cars I tested was fun enough, but the harsh ride became pretty uncomfortable after a few days of driving. This new Cooper S has all the pizzaz, cuteness and charm of the popular MINI brand, but now it rides very nicely as it blasts down the highway. The MINI has grown more sophisticated without losing any of its identity.
ALL THAT PRESSURE
At the heart of the Cooper S is a 1.6 liter, 172 horsepower, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that revs smoothly and, for sure, quickly. Mated to it is a 6-speed Getrag transmission that shifts easily and smoothly through the clutch. Since the MINI is a front-wheel-drive car there's a little torque steer under hard acceleration but nothing more serious than a simple requirement to pay attention. Your reward for that attention is a brisk acceleration and plenty of exhaust note from the twin center-mounted tailpipes.
Overhead in this particular MINI is a dual-pane panoramic sunroof that illuminates both the front and rear seats. It's part of the Premium Package that also includes automatic climate control and a multifunction steering wheel with cruise control. It might be a hard choice to make for some people because some of those paint treatments on the hard tops are irresistible. I'd probably forego the sunroof and get the Union Jack top treatment.
My test Cooper S also has the Convenience Package that includes the garage door opener, comfort access system, rain sensor, Bluetooth phone prep and several other desirable features. Additional options on the car include: Chrome Line interior, heated front seats, rear fog lamps and brushed alloy accents. The climate controlled glovebox is standard equipment and was greatly appreciated on hot days. Unfortunately, the air conditioning system has to work very hard to keep the car cool enough on those hot days, chiefly due to those small dash outlets.
Standard on the cars is a Sport button that yields increased throttle and steering response for those who want more spirited driving dynamics. It's actually noticeable and does increase the "fun factor," but city driving pretty quickly negated the effects. It's best used on country roads or in unpopulated areas. The rear seat actually proved to be comfortable for two adults. I had the occasion to carry three passengers on a 45-minute journey through the city and out into the suburbs and there were no complaints about hard seating surfaces or bouncy ride. The MINI performed magnificently and everyone emerged from the car with positive comments.
The MINI is one of those cars that appeal to all age ranges and all occupations. It's one of the most attractive cars on the market and the price is quite affordable. With a base price of $21,200 and the myriad of options totaling nearly another $5,000, the total is still well under the typical transaction price of middle-class vehicle purchases.
The price of ownership is well under what most people are paying these days, s highway mileage easily approaches the mid-30s and maintenance on the BMW-designed drivetrains has proven to be minimal.
Specifications: 2007 Mini Cooper S
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