The stylish little MINI Cooper Coupe is a new addition for 2012; a lightweight, no nonsense sports car in a sea of heavyweights.
Unlike the rest of the MINI range, the Coupe is a strict two-seater. A Cooper Roadster with a manually-folding soft-top is also available if you prefer to have the sun in your face and the wind in your hair when driving.
The tiny duo are aimed at delivering the best performance possible from MINI’s front-drive platform. To do so, they offer three different drivetrain options, though if you’re serious about your driving, only two of these will suffice.
Starting with the base Cooper Coupe, power comes from a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 121 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. The 0-60 mph acceleration benchmark will take you a lethargic 8.3 seconds and top speed is only 127 mph.
Move up to the Cooper S Coupe and you get a turbocharged version of the base model’s 1.6-liter engine with 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque under normal conditions. Up to 192 pound-feet of torque can be tapped for short periods, however, thanks to an overboost function. Acceleration from 0-60 mph now takes a brief 6.5 seconds and top speed is 142 mph.
Our choice is the range-topping John Cooper Works Coupe, which is powered by the same 1.6-liter turbo four but with output turned up to 208 horsepower. Acceleration for the 0-60 mph run in this model is just 6.1 seconds and top speed comes in at 149 mph.
All of the MINI Coupes come standard with DSC stability control. JCW models add in Dynamic Traction Control with integrated Electronic Differential Lock Control, to make it easier to get the car moving on loose surfaces or to allow even more driver control in sporty driving. This is also available as an option on the non-JCW models.
When moving fast, the Coupe, perhaps owing to its slightly better rearward weight distribution than other MINIS, is more ready to provide the initial rotation you need as you enter a corner at speed. It also maintains this yaw angle with ease, never feeling like it's about to spin around and throw you off course. Perhaps best of all, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be swapped with understeer the moment you enter any corner with speed like so most front-wheel drivers.
Inside, you’ll find the familiar retro styling with big round dials and curvy forms found across the MINI range. There’s a reasonable 9.8 cubic feet of storage in the trunk and longer items can be stored thanks to an opening in the rear bulkhead.
For a more in-depth look at the 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe, check out our first drive report by clicking here.