Drivers who preferred their MINI Coopers with a bit more power under the pedal had the option of choosing the two-door hatchback S Supercharged trim package, which dropped a 1.6-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. The supercharged four-cylinder produced 163 horsepower (up from 115 for the standard model). A six-speed manual transmission was standard. No automatic was available with this model
The 2003 MINI Cooper S two-door hatchback was essentially the same vehicle introduced in 2002, with the exception of a few minor updates, such as a new interior color, new optional exterior graphics, some additions to the options packages, and an MP3 port on the CD player.
Design-wise, the MINI retained many of the elements of its iconic ancestor, which first appeared in Great Britain in the late 1950s, although the new MINI gave those elements a decidedly modern twist. For instance, the new MINI's taillights, fender, and roofline all mimicked similar elements in the 1960s-era Minis, while interior components such as the center console, instrument panel, switches, and air vents all drew inspiration from the classic Minis.
The MINI Cooper S was well-equipped with such standard features as air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, dual front and side airbags, a CD player, remote keyless entry, and anti-lock brakes. The S version also came with 16-inch tires, a functional hood scoop, and a sport suspension. A sunroof, leather seats, navigation system, and traction control were among the options.
The MINI Cooper's BMW heritage appealed to many drivers, who felt they were getting a BMW-quality car at a cost that was considerably lower than that of a standard BMW model. Some drivers were put off by the MINI's small size, but most drivers found the vehicle to be fun to drive, nimble, reliable, economical, and comfortable, as well as a head-turner on the road.