2015 Mini Cooper JCW review12/24/2015
It’s been over a year since Mini updated the Cooper model, introducing a number of mechanical and stylistic changes to the base two-door hatch. So we’ve had a good amount of time to get used to it, even though some Mini fans were initially taken aback by the catfish-like visage of the updated hatch. The longer nose is there for pedestrian protection as well as crash performance, with the automaker stretching out the nose and introducing larger headlights and taillights, in addition to making the cabin larger. All of these changes, especially inside, are very welcome, even if the Mini has grown to absolutely dwarf the original British Leyland models.
The JCW, of course, is the hot version and it acts like it. BMW has given the latest Mini a wonderfully smooth gearbox and the JCW is ready to rock in every gear, with Sport mode stiffening up the steering and suspension very perceptibly. Flicking the shifter ring to Sport also makes the exhaust nicer (louder), allowing drivers to broadcast their presence to the neighborhood within a 300-yard radius. In short, this gearbox is very fun to use and there is plenty of vroom available in every gear. The clutch is also very modern-BMW -- there is no springy feel to it whatsoever with the pedal travel being light and consistent throughout, even if a bit long. Those familiar with the modern 1-Series and 3-Series will feel right at home.
2015 Mini Cooper S hardtop review notes09/11/2015
ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: Thank god this Mini is so damn big. I took it up to my cottage this weekend with luggage and gear for two and food for some friends, and it barely had enough room. That’s the problem, I think: I look at the Mini, and it looks like a regular-size car, so I think I can stuff whatever I want in there without worry. The old Mini, even the recent “old” one that came back to the States, was actually a small car. I wouldn’t have tried to put two duffel bags, towels, sleeping bags and coolers in there.
It doesn’t really feel small on the road, either. The throttle tip-in is good, especially in sport mode. It’s quick to jump off the line and revs high, getting into the turbo rpms quickly. Flick the shifter over into sport transmission mode, and cog swapping is quick. too. That does make it feel light on its feet.
2016 Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech review notes
The Mini-Me GT-R07/15/2015
ROAD TEST EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: So this is the 2016 model. I think Nissan retuned the exhaust to sound less metallic and more race car. The company must have heard all my complaining. With the windows up or down, it sound much better than the last one.
Looking back at my last review, I do like most of the same things in this car. From the outside, it’s a “Fast and Furious” car. Super low, wide, big wing and giant black-rimmed tires all fit the part. The dual exhuausts in the back, especially with the new sound, complete the package.
Inside, we get suede and leather seats with suede on the steering wheel and a stripe at top dead center, all of which I like. The seats are tight, even for my small frame, but the bottom front and back both adjust, making for a good fit and driving angle. They’re a bit uncomfortable to get into though, so keep that in mind.
It doesn’t ride as hard over Detroit roads as you might think. It bounces some, but doesn’t seem to bang, even over the bigger bumps. At speed it sticks like glue. It’s fun to take turns harder and harder, to find where the limit is actually at. Under normal street driving conditions, it’s nearly unreachable.
2015 Mini Cooper 4 Door hardtop first drive10/01/2014
What is it?
The new Mini Cooper Hardtop 4 Door follows up on the debut of the third-generation Mini Cooper and Cooper S Hardtop 2 Door earlier this year; a couple more doors add extra versatility. This isn't the first four-door offered by Mini -- the Countryman was there first -- but this is an important step for an automaker known for experimenting with different body styles. And there's more to it than simply two extra doors.
The wheelbase of the new 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has grown by 2.8 inches, while the car itself has grown by 6.3 inches overall. All of the extra wheelbase benefits rear seat legroom, and Mini has also managed to squeeze out an extra 2.4 inches in width. The front doors of the hardtop are shortened to buy a little extra room for rear-seat passenger ingress and egress, and the tail is stretched as well, leading to a new rear hatch profile with a more clamshell-like design. Mini has also increased the height of the roof by 0.4 inches.
2014 Mini Cooper S Hardtop review notes08/04/2014
ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: After some time in a Paceman, Mini was going to need quite the charmer to get me back on its side. I did not think a $37,000, automatic-equipped S Hardtop would do the trick, but it was much more fun than I was expecting it to be.
Yeah, there are some areas where you’re not sure if the automaker is trying too hard to be cute. Switch to the efficiency-minded green drive mode. “Let’s MINImalize,” the diagram on the center console screen says. Mid-mode? “Let’s motor.” Then, in sport mode: “Let’s motor hard.”
There’s a fine line between a car that is genuinely, organically fun (the original vintage Mini) and one where it’s painfully obvious that the enjoyment has been engineered back into it, and I guess this Mini is right on the edge.
It retains the kart-like steering that’s made the Mini name famous, and it’s just a little bit nervous at high speeds on the expressway, which I liked. Hit a pothole or hop over expansion joints and you’ll notice that the suspension is on the harsher side, which I also liked. And the motor bats above its 189 hp output -- these things seem to get a little bigger with each redesign, but 2,760 pounds isn’t exactly porky these days. For perspective, it’s a little less than the higher-output Subaru BRZ and a little more than the less-powerful Mazda MX-5 Miata.