The 2011 MINI Cooper is the latest version of a car that’s virtually been unchanged for the past three years., though getting the formula right the first time ‘round means MINI's designers have nothing to fear. The pint-sized runabout combines gender-neutral cute styling with a decent mechanical package and loads of cool-factor, making the MINI Cooper popular amongst the young and old, as well as with both male and female buyers.
Making the car even more desirable is the number of different trims it’s available in, as well as coming in both regular hatchback and convertible bodystyles. The most fun is to be had in the sporty John Cooper Works models, though the pricetags on these can run close to $30,000.
Nevertheless, even the base model, which lists at $19,400, can be loads of fun and comes with all the positive attributes just mentioned.
The MINI’s closest competition would be the Volkswagen Golf and GTI, as well as the Mazda3 and Mazdaspeed3. Note, a sporty new Volkswagen Beetle
and the ultra-cool Fiat 500
are both being introduced for the 2012 model year and are worth a close look if one is considering the MINI Cooper.
As for the latest 2011 MINI Cooper, it gets minor styling updates including minor exterior tweaks, new colors and wheels, and a slightly revamped interior.
Our pick would be the John Cooper Works model, which sports a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine delivering 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. It also gets a standard six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels and a unique bodykit. The interior also gets some unique John Cooper Works features to ensure it stands out as the performance model in the MINI lineup.
Another sporty MINI is the Cooper S, which also gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine but only 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, and 16-inch wheels.
The base Cooper only has 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, as well as smallish 15-inch wheels, but it’s still a hoot to drive and definitely a bargain when you stick with the manual transmission. The upside of the lower performance is the best fuel economy, which comes in at a decent 29/37 mpg city/highway.
Drive on all models goes strictly through the front wheels, and making sure the thing handles well is a MacPherson strut suspension setup on the front axle and central-arm setup on the rear.
For a detailed look at the 2011 MINI Cooper, head over to TheCarConnection,
which provides info on the styling, performance, safety and quality of the MINI.