Mini Cooper Coupe / Roadster – 2012

MINI (BMW Motors) recently announced they will be bringing the Mini Cooper Coupe to SA. They claim it the ultimate in go-kart feeling. Now if you have never driven a Mini Cooper S, I don’t know how much more go-kart like they can go without actually strapping your ass into one. Distinctively it sets itself apart from the rest of the range by being 29millimeters lower than a standard MINI and features a “helmet roof” with a noticeably snug cabin and a serious departure from the “boxy” nature, now featuring a very sleek swooping roofline.

The new shape allows for a very sleek and hunkering stance to the traditional but still recognizable Mini shape. Why another model you ask, and how is this different? Well this one is exactly what it says… a Coupe. There’s only 2 seats, and Mini has squarely positioned this as the ultimate in drivers enjoyment and ultimate performance. This said, with MINI adding the Countryman not just a year back, this new model will hopefully further grow sales of the MINI brand.

MINI says; “Engines will range from the standard  90 kW of the MINI Cooper Coupé to the MINI Cooper S Coupé (135 kW) all the way up to the MINI John Cooper Works Coupé – a thoroughbred athlete producing 155 kW” Performance figures 0-100km/h for the Works (6.4Seconds) Cooper S Coupe (6.9Seconds) and Cooper Coupe (9seconds) featuring the well known BMW Valvetronic system optimising both emissions and engine responsiveness. The new Coupe will also feature an active rear spoiler which optimises airflow at higher speeds.  These active rear spoilers seem to be all the rage these days, I sometimes wonder if they are more aesthetic than anything else.

The chassis, set up squarely for driver enjoyment features standard DSC+T fitment, and optional EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) which should help with keeping those front wheels pointing where you’re grinning to go. I suspect this will be a hard ride, but will no doubt provide an incredibly rewarding experience, as the chassis has even been modified to keep the weight balance slightly forward, optimising traction. MacPherson struts have been used up front, and the multi-link rear suspension at the rear, helping to maintain optimal road grip at all times. MINI notes that ” The suspension components have been meticulously adapted to the sporty personality and specific weight balance of the MINI Coupé and the body calibration on all model versions emphasises their sparkling handling characteristics. ” Sounds jovial. Remove your fillings now ladies and gents.

All cars come standard with a 6-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic gearbox with Steptronic function can be ordered for the MINI Cooper Coupé and MINI Cooper S Coupé as an option. ” With its exceptionally short shift times and direct “target gear” finding capability on downshifts, the automatic likewise showcases the sporting character of the MINI Coupé.”

All in all it sounds like a very focused 2-seater MINI, and in all honesty, I spent last week in the back of a Cooper S and can say that most of them in my mind, are 2-seater anyway (unless you’re tall like me, and want to lose a limb). That said, with a lower stance, a focused chassis, lower drag coefficient and those great MINI turbocharged engines, this should be an incredibly entertaining car to drive.

The MINI Coupé goes on sale in South Africa in the last quarter of 2011.