2022 Mini Cooper S - A fun, quick ride.
|Is that car grinning at me?|
First impression - Wow this thing is loaded! Then I thought "there's too much stuff." Which got me thinking about what I would do without and why. Which led me to the realization that anything I'd delete would not make much difference in the Mini's weight, handling, or driving enjoyment. My wife's first impression was more succinct - "That's so cute!" Yes it is cute.
The 'new' Mini was introduced in 2001 and although it has been upgraded since then it still looks essentially the same. It's grown a bit but not by much. By modern standards the 3-door is still small. But boy do they cram a bunch of stuff into that little package! A big plus of modern technology is that it doesn't really take up much space or weigh too much.
The Mini got some styling changes for 2022, nothing revolutionary, it's still a Mini. The front and rear bumpers have been updated, the front grille is revised, the wheels are new, but nothing earth-shattering.
There are a variety of Mini models - 2-door, 4-door, wagon (Countryman and Clubman), convertible, all out performance in the John Cooper Works, and electric.
The Cooper S is what I would call the mid-level performance version. The bottom level would be the 134-hp, 1.5-liter, turbo 3-cylinder, the top, the John Cooper Works has a 228-hp, turbo 2.0-liter four, and the S slots in with a 189-hp version of the 2.0-liter.
The Cooper S I drove had the dual-clutch 7-speed automatic; a 6-speed manual is available. Although part of me would rather have had a manual transmission I have to admit that the auto was just fine. Put it into manual mode and the shifts are quick and positive, and the paddle shifters mean you don't have to take your hands off the wheel. I did find the shift lever a little confusing at first - there are two buttons, one to engage Park and one to allow you to shift into Reverse - but I quickly mastered it. Yes the auto adds a bit of weight, 29 lbs. according to the specs, but unless you race the car you won't notice. According to Mini the Cooper S is capable of 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds.
I took the Mini Cooper S from my home in Tracy, CA out Corral Hollow Road to Tesla Road (same road), up over the Diablo Range. It is a very twisty bit of two-lane. Now I didn't try to tame the road, no point in putting neither the Mini nor my license at risk, but I did have some fun banging the trans through the gears. I feel fairly confident that in the hands of someone better qualified than I am could have really put the Mini through its paces.
I also drove the Mini on a multi-lane, truck clogged Interstate. That's where you realize how small a Mini is. Sometimes I wish there were separate highways for trucks (not a knock on the knights of the highways). Unfortunately due to heavy traffic I only averaged 33.7-mpg and 40.8 mph. The Mini Cooper S is rated at 38-mpg highway.
|The center stack is relatively easy to decipher.|
|I had to get my glasses out to see what each toggle did on the overhead panel.|
I enjoyed my week with the Mini Cooper S. It's a fun little car. It is a testament to the design that even after all these years it is still popular. It is difficult to design a car that appeals to a wide range of buyers, the Mini pulls it off. The biggest downside, at least for me, is the urge to run it through the gears, which might lead to points on my license.
The Mini Cooper S starts at $26,900. The as tested price was $35,750. If you want a base Mini (3-cylinder) that starts at $22.900, and the ultimate John Cooper Works is $30,305.