2012 Mini Cooper S Coupe new car reviews

From the front, it's nearly identical to the regular Cooper. You need a keen eye to spot the lower roof.
The strangely shaped luggage area around back makes a good case for a mid-engined (or twin-engined!) Cooper S Coupe.
Seating accommodations are limited to two.
MINI's famously enormous center speedometer recently became just a ring, with an LCD interface taking most of its center real estate.

Better than: the full-size Cooper S
But not as good as: a coupe that doesn't look as silly
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 85.74

Below the beltline, this car is identical to the regular MINI Cooper S. But thanks to a low roof—and some controversial styling—its center of gravity is a bit lower than that micro people-hauler. MINI's Coupe has but two seats, and a big hatch into which you can cram your weekend's travel gear.

The model we received came well-equipped above its $24,600 starting price. Optional equipment piled on down a column on its Monroney sticker, making it an eye-watering $33,400. That turbocharged 1.6-liter makes 181 horsepower, routed through six speeds in either manual or automatic flavor. Ours had the automatic, which comes with shift paddles.

Other staff views

Alan Cesar FartSmeller69
SuperDork

The trunk is kind of a weird shape, which makes it not terribly useful. What it does make, though, is an excellent argument for a mid-engined Mini.

Steve Chryssos Steve Chryssos
Reader

They say styling trends recirculate over time. The 2001 new Mini exemplifies that thesis. The cartoon-like 2012 Mini Cooper S Coupe reminds us that some trends are better off dead Case in point: Theme Cars. In 1968 Monogram, the car model company, hired artist Tom Daniel to pen a new model kit for eager juvenile buyers. Called The Red Baron, Mr Daniel added a ginormous silver dome to the standard T-Bucket platform. That dome, of course, emulates a world war 1 german helmet. In 1969, show car builder Chuck Brown brought the 1/24th scale model to life. The show circuit crowds freaked! The Mini Cooper S Coupe makes me freak. Aside from poor rearward visibility, the car drives like a standard new Mini. That's the good news. The bad news is that the styling is pure caricature. The squat roof perched on top of otherwise standard Mini sheet metal is a complete fail. And since the standard Mini is sports car in so many senses, this model is rendered useless. Pun intended: The Mini Cooper S Coupe will go down in flames.

Per Schroeder Per Schroeder
PowerDork

Wow, what a way to make the car do one thing better—and everything else turns to crap. The beauty of the basic MINI shape is that it's very, very practical. If you fold down the seats, you've got room for four Hoosiers, a jack, tools and enough luggage for two for a long weekend—the perfect autocross machine. This thing is not as useless as an MR-2 Spyder, but it's certainly not the practical sportser that the basic car is.

However, I can feel that the car handles better thanks to its lower roof line. It feels quicker in transitions and there's less bodyroll than the standard car. That's good--but not at the expense of usability.

Keep in mind that since a few years ago, you could no longer get a MINI Cooper S with a mechanical limited slip differential. They now all have the e-Diff traction control dealie—so even though this car would seem to be a killer autocross machine, I suspect the normal 2007-2010 Cooper S will still be the car to have in SCCA's D-Stock.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

This one reminded me of the Audi TT. Sure, a Golf might make more sense, but the TT adds a bit of style to a somewhat pedestrian package.

I have to give MINI props for the automatic box found in the Cooper S. It might have been the nicest non-twin-clutch auto I have sampled in quite some time. The shifts were crisp. The box was not hateful. In fact, we had a nice time together.

The car itself is pretty much, as expected, like a standard Cooper S--except rearward visibility is pretty poor. So, make your choice: form or function?

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

There are very few cars I wouldn't be caught dead in.......the MINI Coupe is one of those cars.

As much as I love the standard and S model MINIs, I just can't stand the squished roof, backseat delete version. If there was a major performance improvement, or weight savings I may be able to look past the hideous appearance, but there isn't.

This is a car for those who love the look, and will sacrifice utility and common sense to stand out. I'm clearly not one of those people.

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Comments

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Alan Cesar
Alan Cesar Dork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Below the beltline, this car is identical to the regular MINI Cooper S. But thanks to a low roof—and some controversial styling—its center of gravity is a bit lower than that micro people-hauler. MINI's Coupe has but two seats, and a big hatch into which you can cram your weekend's travel gear.

The model we received came well-equipped above its $24,600 starting price. Optional equipment piled on down a column on its Monroney sticker, making it an eye-watering $33,400. That turbocharged 1.6-liter makes 181 horsepower, routed through six speeds in either manual or automatic flavor. Ours had the automatic, which comes with shift paddles.

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