All photos by BMW
There is no mistaking the 2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop in a crowded field of cars. Bullz-Eye.com recently reviewed a premium Mini Cooper S Hardtop and walked away thinking, “this car is the real deal.” The Mini Cooper body is both nostalgic and fresh and sporty but the fun really began when we were behind the wheel.
Upon first glance of the 2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop I just wanted to smile. This ride is not the everyday, run-of-the-mill car and I love that about the Mini. The Spice Orange Metallic paint job could only work on a select group of autos and the blokes at Mini knew they could pull it off. The Sport package included 17" alloy wheels with conical spike, xenon headlights, black headlight housings and fog lights, all of which worked well together. Even though the Mini Cooper is not as large as most cars, the look of this BMW family member certainly evokes quality over economy. That is especially true with the new front grille, sporting a raised front end and those flashy new headlights.
If you think the outside of the Mini Cooper S is fun, the interior gets even better! This is a unique British interior and although some in the auto sector feel that the flow doesn't make a lot of sense, not everything can be understood by metrics and conformity. The interior layout revolves around the rounded center speedometer with most controls found underneath. I will admit that some of these controls aren’t as easy to find as other cars I've reviewed but that adds to the Mini Cooper feel. Our model had Carbon Black heated front seats, a sporty, multi-function steering wheel, much appreciated center armrest and Mini Connected, which includes comfort Bluetooth, USB/iPod/smartphone integration and voice command. The six-way adjustable sport seats with driver and passenger height adjustment were wide and secure when zippping around in the Mini. Our test model also came with power windows with "one touch" up and down and split, fold-down seats with cargo position. The driver and passenger have plenty of space with more than enough headroom but when the back seats came into play, the interior certainly started feeling like a compact.
The 2011 Mini Cooper S was as fun as any compact car that I've driven. The six-speed manual Getrag transmission with raised front end and headlights felt very smooth and refined. I was also impressed with the power under the hood. The turbocharged direct injected 1.6-liter 16-valve inline 4 cylinder engine churned out 181 horsepower that made driving the 2011 Mini Cooper S a complete blast. The 17" alloy wheels gripped the road on tough turns and dynamic traction control stabilized the Mini on some very snowy roads in Northeast Ohio. The ride in the Mini was stiff like some sports cars and I attribute part of that positive position to the MacPherson strut front/multi link rear suspension, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and Dynamic Stability Control. Even with this type of higher end performance the 2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop achieved 27mpg in the city and 36mpg highway driving.
I really didn't know what to expect when I first entered the 2011 Mini Cooper S Hardtop but before I pressed the push button start I knew this wasn't your everyday compact car. The price of our test model was $27,700, which again was a premium S model, but the more time you spend in this car you start to understand the cult like following Mini has cultivated. Mini Cooper is one of the leaders in upscale compacts and I expect that to continue. With the backing of BMW this little car company can look forward to a fun and bright future. Is this car perfect? No. I would like to see more storage squeezed into the Mini while also adding more leg room for rear passengers. As we saw improvements in the 2011 models, we can expect to see Mini Cooper working hard to deliver what their customers want. Today's Cooper is a great car – we can only expect great things in the future.
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