Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from my favorite auto sales associate, Ms. Maryanne Calhoun at Baron MINI in Merriam. The purpose of her call was simple, the new MINI Coupe had arrived at Baron. I didn’t get her call until after they had closed for the night so going to see it, and drive it was going to have to wait until Saturday. That little wait was worth it.
Here is my two cents after spending some time with the Coupe this morning. This isn’t an in depth review, just some observations about the car.
First off the coupe feels small. I know it is built on the same frame as the convertible and it is the same dimensional size except for the height, but those two vertical inches make a difference. I felt almost claustrophobic inside the car. The roof line sits so low that seeing traffic signals was at times painful and I had the seat as low as it would go.
When I first got in the car I thought to myself “You better get used to using your side mirrors instead of shoulder checking because the over the shoulder blind spots are worse than the convertible with the top up.” I was pleasantly surprised that they weren’t. The expanse of glass across the hatch gives ample viewing when you glance over your shoulder, and the side mirrors make up for the rest.
The car drives like any other MINI Cooper S. Loads of pickup, rapid fire shifting, nimble turning, cornering, and weaving through traffic. With that said, the ride is just as stiff as any MINI hardtop. The ride at times felt almost rough. Now this could be in part to the 18 inch wheels and lower profile tires, but in all honesty I think it has to do with the suspension. Personally I like that feel, but I can see where some people would be put off.
The exterior of the Coupe is full on MINI, and is quite a head turner. The “Three Box” design looks great in person, much better than any of the photos I have seen. As always the front of the car is familiar, and has an aggressive look with the driving lamps installed. If I were to get the Coupe I would get the JCW Aero Kit though. The wider front spoiler, side skirts, and other ground effects really do add to the styling of the car. The rear of the car hides a spoiler that pops up automatically at 50 miles per hour. This is a handy reminder that you are speeding on city streets (well I should say it told me to slow my ass down when it popped up. And yes I was going way over 50 without realizing it) The spoiler drops back into the trunk line when your speed drops below 37 mph, and the technology is not just a first for Mini, but for the BMW family as a whole.
As I mentioned earlier that two inches that was shaved off the roof line, and the 13 degree rake to the windscreen is noticeable when you are in the car. Forward visibility is tight, rear visibility is almost non existent, especially when the rear deck wing is up at 50 mph plus. The rest of the interior is pure MINI. Thankfully the center console that houses radio controls has been redesigned, and is much more user friendly. The car still has the large center speedo, with the tach floating above the steering column. The seats were the same comfortable body hugging seats MINI drivers have gotten used to. In the car I was driving they were a combination of cloth and leather.
As for driving performance the car gets up and goes. It has lots of oomph, quick throttle response, and great acceleration. With that there is noticeable torque steer from the front wheel drive assembly. If you are a MINI owner, or anyone that drives a front wheel drive car that has any kind of pick up, you are used to this and it’s not a big deal. I have been driving a rear wheel drive BMW for the last 2 months and I had forgotten what this feels like. It isn’t bad, it’s just different.
So, bottom line… I would buy this car. It was a blast to drive. It looks great in person. It was fun as hell. If any of you want to buy my 128i I will sell it to you. I need to make a profit though so I can put a down payment on the Coupe.