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 NYT.com.