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2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/14/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The 2015 Mini Hardtop adds a four-door body style, new optional two-tone wheels, fiber alloy interior accents, and roof rails. Packaging changes have also been made, and cars equipped with the 6.5- or 8-inch touchscreen must also add the rearview camera and park distance control options. Hands-free keyless access is now part of the Premium Package and City Pack.

Research

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Mini Hardtop is a subcompact hatchback available in two- or four-door configurations. The premium compact was redesigned for the 2014 model year and gained two new powertrains and became larger than its predecessor. A high-performance JCW model with a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 rated at 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque paired to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission will join the lineup in the middle of 2015. There is also a convertible model, which is based on the previous-generation hatchback.

Overview

The 2015 Mini Hardtop offers two engines: a turbocharged 1.5-liter I-3 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque (169 lb-ft in overboost) in the Cooper model and a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 with 189 hp and 2007 lb-ft (221 lb-ft in overboost) in the Cooper S. Both engines are paired to a six-speed manual and automatic. Fuel economy is decent, with the base car achieving 29/40 mpg with the manual and 28/37 mpg with the automatic. Stepping up to the Cooper S does come with a slight drop in gas mileage to 24/34 mpg with the manual and 26/33 mpg with the automatic.

Even though it has grown in size, the Mini Hardtop remains an agile, fun-to-drive car with a responsive chassis and little body roll. An optional sport suspension and dynamic damper control are also available for those looking for maximum handling in the new generation hatchbacks. Acceleration is brisk thanks to the turbocharged engines providing plenty of low end torque, making passing and merging a breeze.

Interior space in the 2015 Mini Hardtop is limited, with up to 34 cubic feet of cargo space in the two-door with the rear seats folded. Passenger space in the two-door is also limited with cramped seating in the back. Those looking for more room should opt for the four-door, which has more room for passengers and up to 40 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats folded down. Tech features are in abundance and include navigation with the BMW Group's iDrive interface, head-up display, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and parallel parking assist.

Customization remains a strong suit in all Minis with a long list of available interior and exterior accessories. Buyers can opt for two-tone interior color schemes, mirror covers and roofs emblazoned with different designs including the British flag, chrome accents, and wheels up to 18 inches in size. Adding options and accessories, however, gets costly fast.

The two-door 2015 Mini Hardtop received a four-star frontal crash and rollover safety rating (out of a possible five stars). In IIHS evaluations, the two-door model received a good score on the moderate overlap front test (good is the highest possible score). Four-door models have not yet been crash tested by the NHTSA and the IIHS.

What We Think

Even after it grew in size, the 2015 Mini Hardtop remains a fun-to-drive vehicle that is more mature than its predecessor. In a 2014 First Drive review, we said that the car's chassis "responds to every input with ease" and handles well despite it being more refined. The car remains "empirically fun" with snappy turn-ins; however, the ride gets rough on less than perfect surfaces, and shifter feel in the manual could be improved.

In a comparison test against the Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX, and Volkswagen Golf GTI, we took issue with details in the interior. Gauges—particularly the tachometer—were hard to read, while the fuel level meter and drive mode selector were tacky, cheap, and "looked like an afterthought." In that comparison, the Mini placed fourth.

You'll Like

  • Nimble handling
  • Strong low and mid-range torque in Cooper S
  • Customizable

You Won't Like

  • Ride can get rough on bumpy roads
  • Gets expensive quickly
  • Cheap-looking instrument gauges and switches

Key Competitors

  • Fiat 500
  • Honda Civic Si
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Subaru WRX
  • Ford Fiesta

Rating

2 star

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