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2013 Mini Cooper S Coupe Verdict

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/19/2014 Carlos Lago, Motor Trend Staff
2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S

Look in this Mini's stylized oval headlights and at its British Racing Green paint and silver stripes. What do you see? A cult of personality. In concept, it's quite entertaining: Its footprint is no smaller than the standard Mini Cooper's, it's harder to see out of, it actually weighs slightly more, and it has fewer seats. All this for $1150 more than a hardtop S (in 2014).

2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S

The Coupe makes no effort to blend in. It relishes its strange proportions and heavy styling, which run consistently through the car. It strives to be different in every way, even in the way it sounds, making a distinct rattle on idle and a cute little succession of backfires when you lift off the throttle. It celebrates its many eccentricities right in your face.

2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S

After spending a year with the Coupe, I learned you have to embrace the quirkiness to enjoy the car. You can't take it too seriously. You must revel in the peculiar interior layout and enjoy how those toggle switches look and that they exist, rather than dwell on the clumsiness of actually using them. You must admire the exterior for being different, while ignoring the compromised outward visibility imposed by that chopped top. Never mind, as well, that the top looks like a football helmet. Do this, and you'll love the Coupe.

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For the days when all that stuff annoys you, the Coupe will win you back on a good road. It's a shame that the polarizing styling overshadows how much fun this car is to drive, because, as far as front-drivers go, it's on the short list with the best. It had no problem serving as a camera car for MT video shoots and chasing the various sports cars that came through the MT garage. Occasionally, it proved more entertaining. Through responsive steering, a well-balanced chassis, high grip, and a sweet shifter, the Coupe felt constantly ready to go, always looking for curves to bomb through.

There are trade-offs for this behavior, and occasionally I'd wonder if the ride needed to be as stiff as it was or if the bumps and impacts felt harsher than necessary. These thoughts were fleeting, though, as the benefits once again became clear as I went through a few corners.

What was it like to own? In terms of reliability, the Mini fared well over the year. Aside from a set of new tires at 8000 miles necessitated by racetrack abuse (thanks, Randy Pobst), we spent nothing on the Coupe. Mini's 3-year/36,000-mile free maintenance plan meant the three manufacturer-recommended service stops we experienced were cost-free. Fuel economy? At an average 27.8 mpg, the Coupe fell on the low side of its EPA 26/35 city/highway mpg spread, but that result makes sense considering it was driven primarily on the street, and spiritedly so. Faults? The only one I found was a small, intermittent, and frustratingly unreproducible rattle emanating from the passenger seat.

Another small annoyance: People often mistook "Coupe" for an abbreviation of "Cooper," so I'd have to explain that it's not, and that the real name is Mini Cooper S Coupe. That explanation became tiresome simply because of how many times I had to give it. The Coupe succeeds in getting the attention for which it strives. Big, serious supercars get big attention, too, but a different kind. This Coupe makes people interested, but it also makes them smile. Folks approached the car regularly in grocery store parking lots, asking what it is, how the roof comes off (for the last time, it doesn't), what the fuel economy is, and, while leaving, would say, "Cool." One woman said, "Cute," then immediately apologized, thinking it might've been an insult to a man-about-town and his flashy car. "It's not supposed to be cute, is it?"

It certainly isn't supposed to be pretty, but that isn't the point. It's that it's different. The Coupe's success is that, through its commitment and consistency to its strange design, it pulls the whole thing off. As mainstream passenger cars continue to homogenize at the bottom of the common denominator slope, the Coupe's uniqueness is its selling point. It's not a car for everybody, and not something to be sold in large quantities -- I've seen one other Coupe in car-savvy L.A.-- but for that buyer who's looking to make a statement, the Coupe is a perfect fit. It defies reason. And that makes it interesting.

More on our long-term 2013 Mini Cooper S Coupe:


Our Car
Service life12 mo/18,827 mi
Base Price$25,450
Price as Tested$34,550
OptionsRecaro sport seats ($2750), Premium Package 1 ($1750: Chrome line interior, Auto-dimming rearview mirror, Automatic climate control), Technology Package ($1750: Comfort Access keyless entry, Satellite radio w/ 1-year subscription, Harman/kardon premium sound), Sport Package ($1500: 17-in black StarBullet wheels, Xenon headlights, Dynamic Traction Control, White turn-signal lights), Mini Connected with Nav Pack ($750: Smartphone Integration, Real Time Traffic Information, Mini navigation System), British Racing Green II ($500), Heated mirrors and washer jets ($100)
Average Fuel Economy27.8 mpg / 0.70 lb/mi
Problem AreasNone
Maintenance cost$0
Normal-wear cost$0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*$18,657
RECALLSNone
*Automotive Lease Guide data


2013 Mini Cooper Coupe S
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPETurbocharged I-4, alum block/head
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT97.5 cu in/1598 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO10.5:1
POWER (SAE NET)181 hp @ 5500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)177 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
REDLINE6300 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER15.1 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION6-speed manual
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO3.71:1/3.02:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO14.1:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK2.3
BRAKES, F;R11.6-in vented disc; 10.2-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS7.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum
TIRES205/45R17 84V Continental ContiSportContact SSR
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE97.1 in
TRACK, F/R57.2/57.5 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT147.0 x 66.3 x 54.5 in
TURNING CIRCLE35.1 ft
CURB WEIGHT2725 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R63/37 %
SEATING CAPACITY2
HEADROOM38.4 in
LEGROOM41.7 in
SHOULDER ROOM50.3 in
CARGO VOLUME7.0 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.2 sec
0-403.4
0-504.6
0-606.3
0-708.0
0-809.9
0-9012.8
0-10015.7
PASSING, 45-65 MPH3.1
QUARTER MILE14.6 sec @ 96.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH112 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.90 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT26.2 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH2600 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROLYes/Yes
AIRBAGSDual front, front side
BASIC WARRANTY4 yrs/50,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY4 yrs/50,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE4 yrs/Unlimited
FUEL CAPACITY13.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY ECON26/35 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY130/96 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS0.66 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded premium

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