Motoramic

All-new 2015 Mini Cooper offers bigger body, smaller engines

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

In the dozen years since BMW first revived the Mini name for the 21st century, the brand has enticed a parade of converts to its showrooms with a modern-sized reinterpretation of its quirky style. For the third generation revealed today that hits dealerships next March, Mini changes all of its particular ingredients while keeping its basic formula intact — even though the newest Mini is less mini in most dimensions.

With increased competition from lower-priced compacts around the world, Mini was overdue for a full set of mechanical updates. The changes start under the bonnet, where the 1.6-liter engine has been replaced by a 1.5-liter turbo three-cylinder, good for 132 hp and 170 ft.-lb. of torque. The Mini Cooper S gets a 2-liter four-cylinder turbo with 189 hp and 221 ft.-lb. of torque, enough for a sprint to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Each can be yoked to either a six-speed automatic or manual, both described as new by Mini.

Inside, Mini follows the pattern of all modern compact cars by growing less compact; it's gained 4.5 inches in length and 3 cubic feet of interior space. Much of Mini's appeal lies in its interior design, and here as well the Cooper has been upgraded rather than redone; there's a LED band around the circular center dash, which changes color based on driving mode. Instead of a key or stop-start button, the engine comes to life via a Mini toggle switch.

The fascia also gets its own optional LED rings, a first for models in this class, which gives the Cooper's front end a slightly more surprised look. Otherwise, the new Mini Cooper looks much as the old one did — and until there's proof to the contrary, that's likely exactly what Mini buyers want.

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