A MINI FOR THE MASSES
2015 MINI Cooper S 4-door hardtop
Published on Tue, Jul 21, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
This is the MINI that many have been waiting for. The original 2-door is too small for families. The Countryman is too big for MINI enthuiasts. The Clubman needs one-and-a half more doors. Finally, after three generations of the new MINI, the company builds a car the retains the go-kart nimbleness of the original, but comes with four, real live doors. It’s the MINI Cooper 4-door hardtop. Harvey Schwartz reviews the S model.
Story and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
MINI Mania grows larger in 2015 with the introduction of the all-new MINI 4-door hardtop. It combines the fabulous go-kart handling with the newly added utility in the form of two new doors plus a rear lift-back. The wheelbase is longer (2.9 inches), and the body lengthened by 6.3 inches as compared to the 2 door MINI. This new model provides greater comfort, a smoother ride and versatility. At the rear of the new MINI are three seats, and passengers there benefit from increased headroom by 0.6 inches. Front headroom is increased by 0.5 inches and interior width by 1.8 inches at shoulder height. Also the luggage compartment space is 0.5 cu.ft. larger than the 2 door MINI with a total of 9.2 cu.ft. White the fold-down rear seats you can enlarge the total amount of cargo space even more.
Our review-vehicle is a loaded 2015 MINI Cooper S 4-door with the 2.0 liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine mated to the Getrag 6-speed manual FWD transmission. It features all the latest MINI tech and connectivity goodies except there was no self-dimming mirror or XM Satellite radio. Nonetheless, this new car is so well balanced and so much fun to drive, maneuvering around slow city traffic and on the highway becomes a joy.
The functional qualities of the 4-door model are reflected in the clarity of its lines. The unique roof line and the emphasis of the rear section draws attention to the extended length. And like all MINI models, the new MINI Cooper S 4 door hardtop also has an unmistakable appearance that is truly unique. This is due to the car’s proportions as well as the typical brand styling and characteristic three-way structure of its body. The large greenhouse and roof on top are clearly separated from one another in visual terms. The window graphics taper off visually to the rear, contributing to a dynamic wedge shape from the side and indicating the forward thrust of the car when stationary. The wide track and short overhangs emphasize the striking expression of the car’s mass as it sits powerfully on top of the unique 17X7.5 inch wheels. The athletic stature of the new MINI S hardtop 4 door is underscored by a striking sill line between the front and rear wheel arches.
Down below the character line provides a dynamic downward thrust which directs attention to the large wheel opening. Traditional design features include the hexagonal contour of the chrome-surrounded radiator grille with a chrome horizontal bar, the side indicator surrounds, the circular headlamps, the upright rear light clusters, aero-styled cone shaped remote power/heated/power-folding sideview mirrors, pull-out chrome door handles, chrome fuel filler door, and the black full-perimeter lower bod kit that gives the car a lower stance. Sporting flair is seen with the honeycomb pattern of the radiator grille, a bumper trim in high-gloss black, the hood scoop, lower LED fog lamps, and front brake ducts that look awesome. At the rear a separate apron with round, chrome-tipped exhaust tailpipes gathered in the center finish the bottom part of the vehicle. A spoiler on top of the roof finish the aggressive looks.
This new MINI S Hardtop 4 door is the first car in its segment to feature LED headlights and LED rear lamps. The bright white LED units provide the light source for both low and high beam. They are surrounded by an LED daylight running rings, the lower section of which reaches down to the white LED turn signals. Whether looking from the front, side, or rear; the new MINI S hardtop 4 door beckons you to get in and enjoy the comfortable and thrilling ride.
Explosive turbocharged power to quickly move the all-new MINI Cooper S 4 door hardtop from a standstill comes from a choice of two engines; a three and four cylinder power plant. The MINI S comes with four cylinders and features TwinPower Turbo Technology, direct fuel injections, variable camshaft control on the intake and exhaust side (double VANOS), and variable valve control in the form of VALVETRONIC (a BMW exclusive). With the potent engine delivering 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque with 90% of torque available at just 1,250 rpm (it can be even briefly increased to 221 pound-feet by means of an overboost function) the all-new MINI Cooper S 4 door hardtop will sprint to 60mph from a standstill in just 6.6 seconds with the manual and 6.5 seconds with the automatic transmission.
Our test vehicle, with the TwinPower 2.0 engine, was mated to the cutting-edge, quick, and smooth shifting Getrag 6-speed manual that was a joy to use up and down the gears. This manual features low weight and improved shift comfort derived from the use of carbon friction linings for the synchronizer rings. A gear sensor enables active engine speed adaption, or "rev-matching”, for especially sporty shifting when accelerating and increased comfort with downshifting. Just one click changes gears, up or down, with little effort. The clutch pedal is just right, no “rubber-band"-soft feeling and with a very linear reaction to the clutch.
The 6-speed manual also features SmartStop technology to enhance fuel economy by shutting the engine off when at a stop in neutral and the A/C turned off. The engine turns on instantly when the clutch is pushed down. A great feature gas-saving feature! Also excellent is the 3-mode drive switch located around the shifter; Green for easy, comfortable, high-mileage driving fun, Mid for more power and handling performance and Sport that remaps the throttle response to increase the reaction to inputs at the steering wheel, turbocharger, and the 4-wheel independent suspension system. This feature gives the driver the opportunity to tailor the car to how they want it to perform. Even in Green mode, if you ever need it, one hard step on the throttle and the MINI will react by exploding forward.
The MINI 2.0 turbo is truly like a go-kart with its extreme handling. Cornering at high speeds, the MINI remains so flat, so composed, and so confident. In addition to the ABS, EBD, BA, Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and the brake assistant, the driving stability control system (DSC) (Dynamic Stability Control) also includes a drive-off assistant, a brake dry function, Fading Brake Support and DTC mode (Dynamic Traction Control), which permits controlled slip at the drive wheels to facilitate driving off on loose sand or deep snow. When the driving stability system is deactivated (DSC Off mode), there is an electronic locking function for the front axle differential which selectively and appropriately brakes a spinning drive wheel on tight corners, redirecting the drive torque to the other wheel. This system, known as Electronic Differential Lock (EDLC) thereby promotes the car’s forward momentum without negatively influencing self-steering response. The car also features the Performance Control system which counteracts any tendency to understeer prior to reaching the threshold level so as to support an agile yet neutral driving response when cornering. These systems go way above anything from the competition. Every system - turbocharged engine, transmission, suspension, steering, brakes - all work together to make the MINI Cooper S one of the best-driving compact 4-door sedans on the market.
The interior is no let-down either; roomy, ergonomic, and with the latest in innovative driver aids, connectivity, and safety. The doors open wide to make entry and exit rather easy even for tall individuals, augmented with grab handles at all three passenger doors. Our test MINI S 4 Door Hardtop was covered with soft-to-the-touch materials and comfortable, deeply cut leather front bucket seats with 6-way manual controls including lumbar support wheel and thigh support extensions. The horizontal structure of the cockpit and the circular or elliptical contours of central features such as air vents, instruments and door trim are among classic MINI design elements. The innovative display and operating concept is ideal for safe, intuitive, and convenient handling of the various driver assistance systems, infotainment, and comfort functions.
The all-new 2015 MINI Cooper S 2.0 turbo 4 door hardtop is fantastic. It not only expands the MINI Cooper line but brings to the fore more excitement, driving enjoyment, comfort, connectivity, innovation, and safety to owning and driving a MINI Cooper.
© Story and pictures by Harvey Schwartz
For more information about MINI products, go to miniusa.com
Name of vehicle:
2015 MINI Cooper S 4-door hardtop
$34,350.00 (as tested plus $850.00 destination)
EPA estimated fuel economy (miles per gallon)
24mpg city/34mpg highway
LA Car observed: 27 mpg over 400 miles tested
2.0 liter DOHC, 16-valve, direct injection four-in-line with TwinPower Turbo Technology, direct fuel injections, variable camshaft control on the intake and exhaust side (double VANOS), and variable valve control in the form of VALVETRONIC
Horsepower and torque:
189 horsepower @ 4700 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque @ 1250 rpm (it can be briefly increased to 221 pound-feet by means of an overboost function)
6-speed Getrag manual with Start-Stop Technology (6-speed Steptronic automatic with sequential manual mode optional)
Front engine, front-wheel drive
Four-wheel independent with front and rear stabilizer bars
Power-assisted four-wheel disc, with ABS and EBD
Length: 158 inches
Width: 68 inches
Height: 56.1 inches
Curb weight: 2895 pounds