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LA Auto Show: 4th Generation Mini Cooper Hardtop

LA Auto Show: 4th Generation Mini Cooper Hardtop

Dec 3, 2013

For BMW, the unveiling of the 4th Generation Mini Cooper Hardtop at the LA AutoShow show the company readying itself to enter that segment of the market for more affordable vehicles. And it’s only apt that the German automobile, motorcycle, and engine company chose Los Angeles to present the latest reincarnation of the Mini. After all, Southern California alone accounts for almost 15% of all the total sales of the Mini Cooper.

There is no drastic or revolutionary overhaul in the 4th Generation Cooper’s design. You still have your wide-eyed headlamps. You still have it’s short tail. This new 2-door Mini, however, is bigger than its previous redesigns – just by a few inches (4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider, and 0.3 inches taller). The change is size is minimal, and even negligible, as the car retains much of the coupe’s look. So it’s not exactly a Mini turning into a sedan or a van.

Mini Cooper S

BMW is after all, chasing the opportunity for front wheel drive vehicles. It’s a gamble, one which the new coupe is part of (they have been front-wheel drives all along). With the 4th Generation Mini Cooper Hardtop, BMW is hoping to share the costs. This is primarily because the 2014 Mini Cooper will be sharing engines with the rest of the new front-wheel drive BMWs. And in the case of its new features, the new Mini is going Maxi.

The new Mini will come with two-engine options. First is the 1.5 litre, 3-cylinder engine delivering up to 134 horsepower. The second is a 2 litre, 4-cylinder engine that makes 189 horsepower. For the Mini Cooper S coming out in 2014, the 2 litre engine will be the standard. If you opt for the S model, you’ll enjoy 0 to 60 mph in about 6.4 sec.

Both engines for the coupe come in a choice of manual or automatic, and two six-speed transmissions. The transmissions, like the engines, are new designs as well. It’s an investment risk for BMW that makes the Mini Cooper Hardtop crucial for the Munich-based company. The new front-wheel design is something the company will use not only on its Mini-line up, but also on its 1-Series and X1 compact crossover portfolio.

In the LA Autoshow, BMW also revealed the the Mini Cooper’s three drive modes – standard, sports, and green to aid better fuel-efficiency. The green mode does this by reducing the usage of electrically powered functions like exterior mirror heating, and air conditioning.

Like previous models, the 2014 coupe offers a variety of decorative trim styles for the roof, exterior mirrors, interior surfaces and colors. Performance-wise, the Mini Cooper features roof rail, a smart park distance control (necessary for a vehicle of this size), exterior mirrors with anti-dazzle functions and which also fold (to make the Mini fit further into smaller, cramped spaces). Apart from the wide-eyed headlamps, BMW excitedly shared options for LED headlamps and adaptive light distribution. This continues what the Mini is best known for as a customizable car.

Because of the change in its size, the new coupe is more spacious than its predecessors. On the steering column is a new instrument cluster, with a speedometer, tachometer, and fuel level. There’s also an 8.8 inch screen for the central instrument that provides performance feedback to the driver, as well a bulk of today’s driving technology requirements i.e. navigation, route maps. BMW has also reconfigured the Mini Cooper’s suspension and damping system to reduce weight and offer either a sport response or a more comfort-oriented driving experience.

Those looking for physical overhauls in size may not be getting much from the 2014 Cooper Hardtop, but its effects are most felt in the roomier interiors and highly-improved driving experience.