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Old 01-23-2007, 08:28 AM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default First Drive: 2007 MINI Cooper (Motor Trend)

First Drive: 2007 MINI Cooper (Motor Trend)

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/...07_mini_cooper



Quote:
The new Mini looks much like the 2003-2006 version, but don't let that similarity fool you. The moment you sit in the car, let alone drive it, it's clear that what was a good package to begin with has become even better. The Mini's "sameness of appearance" was purposely planned, but every body panel on the 2007 Cooper and Cooper S is new. Overall length has increased nearly 2.5 inches, yet the proportions remain the same.

The most obvious change is the radiator grille. Rather than being made in two sections, as on the outgoing model, it's now a single unit. The headlights are moved slightly outward and are in-unit with the directional indicators. Along the side, the door handles are chrome-plated. The beltline is raised a half inch and coupled with a more muted B-pillar.Around the rear hatch, the glass has a soft taper, and the rear light cluster is slightly larger and housed in separate chrome surrounds. More noticeable is the larger roof spoiler. The result is a design that retains the original's let's-have-fun flavor. It still looks compact, cute, and athletic, but now with a slightly more distinctive face.

The design team worked hard to maximize interior space and refine the surroundings, and the use of higher-quality materials is much welcome, although the previous car set a high standard in this regard. Setting off the comfy bucket seat's finer grain leather and rich colors are appropriate splashes throughout the interior of chrome and lacquer finishes. The high-back bucket seats and telescopic steering wheel adjust easily, and there's plenty of head- and legroom for drivers six-foot-three-inches and taller. Visibility is excellent in all directions.

You start the engine with the key fob (a round electronic signal transmitter) rather than a conventional ignition key. Slip the robust-feeling unit into a slot next to the steering wheel, then give it an additional inward push or press the start/stop button on the dash. With the optional Comfort Key, you can leave the transmitter in your pocket and still open the doors or fire the engine.

The other major change between the new and outgoing Cooper are the powertrain offerings. The all-new alloy 1598cc inline-four was a joint venture between BMW and Peugeot-Citroen and features twin cams and four valves per cylinder with BMW's valvetronic technology that has variable valve timing and lift.

On the base Cooper, the engine produces 118 horses and has 118 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S replaces the current supercharger with a twin-scroll turbocharger that delivers better mileage and lower emissions. The editor of a dedicated Mini magazine was concerned about how the Mini faithful just had to hear the supercharger's whine, but any trepidation such diehards have will quickly become a thing of the past the first time they put the pedal to the floor.

By using a turbo and direct injection this time around, output is 173 horses at 5500 rpm, or five more horsepower than the outgoing supercharged powerplant. Because of the twin-scroll design, the unit mimics a supercharger in the way power is delivered. There's virtually no turbo lag from 1400 rpm, as 177 pound-feet or more of torque are available from 1600 to 5000 rpm. It then pulls with a good head of steam up to the 6500-rpm redline.

That linear power delivery and the standard six-speed manual gearbox make the car an absolute joy to run through the gears. The shifter is crowned by a beefy knob that fills up your hand, and the gearbox is much easier to use than the previous generation. Pedal placement is perfect for heel-and-toe downshifts.

While nimbleness remains a Mini watchword, the Cooper S is much at home on the freeway at most any speed. Couple the ride's newfound suppleness with the turbo's pulling power, and the car can assault sweeping turns at over 130 mph with complete confidence. A redesigned suspension is the reason for such refined manners. The front suspension uses MacPherson struts and an anti-roll bar, while the multilink rear setup now features longitudinal arms made of aluminum, dropping 13 pounds of weight from those found in the previous car.

The standard suspension proved a bit soft for hard cornering work, so take a good look at the optional Sport Suspension Package. With a thicker anti-roll bar, stiffer damping, modified spring rates, and 17-inch wheels, the grip becomes downright tenacious. Yet ride quality is in an entirely different category than the previous Cooper S; now you sense the tarmac rather than being jarred by it, especially on rough surfaces.

The electronic power steering is new and has the amount of assistance geared to the car's speed. It's light, quick, and provides reasonably good feedback. Only coming out of the tightest of turns with the accelerator mashed to the floor does the steering wheel give a twitch from torque steer.

Vented discs are on all four wheels and are augmented by the requisite alphabet soup of functions that include electronic brake force distribution and cornering brake control. On-demand traction control is standard in the Cooper S, with dynamic stability control optional. We were impressed by the optional Hill Assist. It works in conjunction with the dynamic stability control and activates the brake system so it holds you momentarily in place on a hill, thus preventing the car from rolling back when the clutch is first released.

It's thoughtful touches like this that make the Mini such a runaway hit. It has a strong surprise and delight factor. Throw in high levels of build quality, cachet, personality, and excellent performance, and it's easy to see why the Mini has captivated so many. Mini production has increased every year since its reintroduction to the United States market, a success streak sure to continue with the new version.

It's thoughtful touches like this that make the Mini such a runaway hit. It has a strong surprise and delight factor. Throw in high levels of build quality, cachet, personality, and excellent performance, and it's easy to see why the Mini has captivated so many. Mini production has increased every year since its reintroduction to the United States market, a success streak sure to continue with the new version.

Some 60 percent of Mini buyers will custom-order their car, as opposed to buying off the rack, which says a lot. Because a Mini is too personal to be considered just transportation.

NEED TO KNOW
What's new about the new Mini

Though the new car may look the same, it's 2.5 inches longer than the previous-gen Mini, and every body panel has been changed.

Powertrains all-new, now with alloy block and head. Cooper S trades supercharger for twin-scroll turbo system.

Power is up five horsepower to 173, and gas mileage increases approximately 20 percent.

The engine has an overboost function, delivering an extra 15 pound-feet of additional torque for short periods.

Six-speed manual now standard.

Roomier interior, with higher-grade materials inside.

Center speedo has grown in size and houses the radio's face and controls.

A six-speed automatic is available, with steering-wheel-mounted paddles for shifting.

Anti-lock brakes and six airbags are standard equipment.

Coupe and convertible body styles remain, with Traveller sport wagon to come within a year.












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Old 01-23-2007, 08:41 AM   #2
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I think the new motor will open up the Aftermarket even more for these cars.
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Old 01-23-2007, 08:53 AM   #3
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WTF is going on with that interior though? Seriously WTF is that?

Beautiful car outside and the new supercharger should make better power with mods.
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Old 01-23-2007, 09:25 AM   #4
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^^ you mean new turbo
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Old 01-23-2007, 09:36 AM   #5
TCENGEL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darknightohio View Post
^^ you mean new turbo
Correct.
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Old 01-23-2007, 09:57 AM   #6
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"and there's plenty of head- and legroom for drivers six-foot-three-inches and taller."

I can concur on this, as I was up at NAIAS and sat in a new Cooper S w/sunroof and had plenty of headroom and legroom, very suprising (6'5").

Can't wait to see what the JCW version will be like (rumored over 220HP or more from the rep there)...
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Old 01-23-2007, 01:24 PM   #7
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I kind of want one...
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:19 PM   #8
design1stcode2nd
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Always loved mini's and this one is even better, too bad its WRD and you have to pay MSRP to get one.
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCshopper View Post
Wow! That center console looks cluttered and busy.

Car should be a hoot around the track though...
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Old 01-23-2007, 04:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiketkd View Post
Wow! That center console looks cluttered and busy.

Car should be a hoot around the track though...


Cluttered??? Sheeeet looks clean like dis........





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Old 01-23-2007, 10:22 PM   #11
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Bad news.. new engines are not nearly as modifiable as old iron blocks..


Quote:
Originally Posted by mh_WRX View Post
I think the new motor will open up the Aftermarket even more for these cars.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:43 PM   #12
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If there was a dealer in my state, I might think about getting one as my next car, but there is no way I'm driving 350 miles to Massachusetts for scheduled maintenance visits.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amdmaxx View Post
Bad news.. new engines are not nearly as modifiable as old iron blocks..
yes very bad news, lets just keep on using the same ****, never evolve or revamp ideas, even if new technology arises that makes a better engine lets keep the old one, better yet why even redesign anything, but you know all life on earth adapt to survive, if they dont evolve than they will be killed off by something more advanced.
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Old 01-24-2007, 01:31 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darknightohio View Post
^^ you mean new turbo
Technically a turbo is a supercharger.
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