The New York Times Tests the 2014 MINI Range

When the NYT reviews a car, it’s typically very different than any other publication. And living up to expectations the newspaper has produced one of the more thorough reviews yet of the 2014 Cooper S aimed at a non-car loving audience. That last bit is an important note as it gives us a chance to look at these cars at arms length a bit more than we are used to.



It’s still easy to focus on fun in the Mini, whose go-kart spirit is undimmed by newfound practicality. The thick-rimmed steering wheel is lovely, the driving position naturally upright. The sport seats are firm and well-bolstered, including a thigh extension.

I spent a week in each of two Cooper S’s, one with a 6-speed automatic (and the S’s more-aggressive, $1,500 Sport transmission with paddle shifters), and one with a 6-speed manual.

I’m cringing as I write this, but I prefer the automatic. The manual shifter offers nifty rev-matching on downshifts, but it’s still loosey-goosey, leading to the odd blown shift. The discreet automatic made short work of snarled Manhattan traffic and paddled through gears with dependable precision on spirited drives.

See what we mean?

But beneath its familiar skin, the new Mini is now a BMW to its core. Good luck finding a Bimmer that starts at barely $20,000 — or that, sensibly equipped, stays below $30,000. If you just tell yourself that this British coupe is really a baby BMW, the Mini may come off as a fair deal.

Read the entire review at

  • KLF23

    There’s part of the problem. I don’t want a baby BMW. I want a Mini.

    • r.burns

      It never existed except for the Austin Mini

      • Nick Dawson

        …, or more precisely, Austin Mini, Morris Mini, BL Mini, and Rover Mini 🙂

    • Jason

      They’ve always been BMW’s.

      • KLF23

        Yeah, but they’re more like a BMW now than ever.

        I would rather a Mini built by BMW than a BMW made to look like a Mini. Does that make sense?

        Don’t get me wrong, BMWs are great and so is the F56, just not for me. Maybe a Rocketman sized Mini developed in conjunction with another company would get me back in the fold. This would take it a further step away from being a BMW.

        I’ve got two classics and an R50. The R50 has some BMW parts, some rover parts some ‘other’. It’s not a full BMW but I’m glad that BMW built it, despite it’s unreliability. Most of the parts I’ve had to replace were BMW parts! The rover gearbox is still going strong amazingly (touch wood).

    • 2bad

      There isn’t a single publication in the United States that would ever put the F56 S in the same league as a VW GTI, Fiesta ST, or Focus ST. It simply cannot hold it’s own against them. The R5x MINI’s were like E9x BMW’s. Precise, a blast to drive, placed driving precision above how supple it goes over speed bumps, and it had aural stimulation in the way of turbo BOV’s, supercharger whine, exhaust noise, etc… What does the F56 carry over? Nothing. It’s too soft to be agile, yet too firm to be comfortable. It’s engine note is that of a Prius, and it’s steering has been lubed with blubber. Now just like every “Fxx” BMW, the MINI is softer, less precise, less fun, and super dull. It’s performance cred that MF is so quick to defend, hasn’t actually equated into any measurable success in real world testing. If there was just one test that revealed sloppier handling, slower trap speeds, and an overall disconnect between driver and car, I would say hey it is only one test, but it has been EVERY US test that has pinpointed it’s dullness. It’s sub-par nature compared to the VW GTI, ST’s, and even WRX. I’m just sad this is what we got stuck with. I hope BMW speeds up this lifecycle to 4 years vs. 7.

    • Frustrated

      There was a really good comment from someone that summed up the F56, but of course MF deleted it because it called them out.

  • JeffH

    You left out the part that said, “At those prices, I might divert my attention to the roomier, even-better-performing Volkswagen GTI or Subaru WRX.” This is what some have been saying on the other threads.

    • Not.Worth.It’s.W8.In.Feathers

      The F56 cannot touch the hem on the GTI or Focus ST’s side skirts. It’s not nearly as practical, good looking, fast, sure-footed, or well-made as it’s US and GER rivals. Not to mention how it pales in comparison to the R53 and R56. I’m not impressed – and never will be. Just a few weeks ago I was told how worthless the words of established car magazines – by MF’s own staff – are when it came to all of the negative’s about the way the F56 drove and performed compared to it’s older siblings. However, now that a FEW select publications that BMW has obviously paid off say positive things and award it with false praise, all of a sudden auto journalism now has some weight?

    • There are lots that were left out positive and negative. But that opinion has dogged MINI for years. And for that matter any premium product. There will always been other vehicles that offer more for less. In fact you could argue that the GTI’s dollar/performance ratio is destroyed by the Focus on the Fiesta much less the Civic. Then there’s the used car market where you can get well cared for E46 M3’s all day long for $25k that murder all of these cars in regards to performance (not to mention almost any other area). The point is there’s no right answer for everyone.

      • 01010101

        you are really excellent at dodging the big picture i will give you that

      • 4realz

        The GTI and Focus ST are within $1000 of one another and the Fiesta ST is only $2000 less with less equipment. The GTI offers so much more everything than the F56.

      • 4realz

        You need to check the facts before you say such things. And as said already, you skipped over the point that every US magazine has slammed the F56 for it’s not too great drive and so-so performance.