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2016 MINI Cooper Overview

Want a drive on the funky side? Check out the 2016 MINI Cooper sub-compact, expected to go on sale this fall. Available as either a 3- or 5-door hatchback (which Cooper often labels “Hardtops”) or an impractical-but-cool 2-door convertible, this Euro-styled commuter car seats 4 within a distinctive combination of retro-chic and techno-savvy ambiance, and its pint-size profile fits your typical urban environment perfectly.

The Cooper is expected to return in its traditional three-trim lineup: the entry-level Base, the up-featured and up-powered Cooper S, and the flagship John Cooper Works (JCW). All editions will only sport front-wheel drive (FWD), with cargo space remaining a minimal 34 cubic feet in the 3-door hatchback, 40.7 cubic feet in the 5-door hatchback, and 23.3 cubic feet in the convertible. But the fun-factor and unique look of this once-British, now-German pint-size people-hauler ought to keep you from dwelling on its relative lack of humping prowess.

The 2016 Cooper hatchback offerings remain essentially unchanged from last year, but the convertible, still boasting a power-opening fabric top, glass rear window, and the partial-open “sunroof” feature, is scheduled to debut with a longer and wider ULK chassis. Also newly expected for the upcoming convertible editions are a re-styled dashboard configuration with an available (and slightly tweaked) MINI Controller display, a rear-view camera option, and an extra-cost head-up display, all of which were previously available only in the hatchback variants.

Powerplant offerings returning for 2016 start with the base 1.5-liter turbocharged inline 3-cylinder (I3) engine that powers the Base hatchback. Mated with either the standard 6-speed manual transmission or the available 6-speed shiftable automatic gearbox, this forced-air mill puts out 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Estimated fuel economy numbers remain an impressive 29 mpg city/40 highway/33 combined in stick-shift-toting versions and 28/37/31 in automatic-equipped editions.

For a little more oomph, the Cooper S Hatchback packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (I4) powerplant that delivers 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, again under the management of the standard 6-speed manual shifter or the optional 6-speed shiftable automatic. Look for 24/34/27 with the stick-shift-boasting S and 26/33/29 out of the automatic-packing variations.

The JCW Hatchback returns with a version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 that’s designed to put out 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, managed by either the standard 6-speed stick or the available 6-speed shiftable automatic. Expect mileage figures with this up-muscled, force-fed I4 to return at 31/23/26 in manual-shift iterations, and 25/31/28 with the automatic.

Lest we forget, all 2016 Cooper Hatchbacks are expected to retain adjustable driving modes that feature a standard (default) setting, a smile-inducing Sport setting, and a Green setting that’s designed to increase gas mileage. You may have to hunt for this feature, but a good place to start is at the front of the transmission hump. And look for all 2016 Cooper Hatchback powertrains to keep their fuel-saving automatic engine start-stop technology, which shuts off the engine at a stop and automatically restarts it when the gas pedal is pushed.

The Base Cooper Convertible again sports a 1.6-liter non-turbocharged I4 powerplant that offers 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque, with either the delivered 6-speed manual transmission or the optional 6-speed shiftable automatic. Look for mileage figures to remain 27/34/30 in stick-shift editions of the entry-level 2016 Cooper Base Convertible, while automatic-toting trims return at 26/34/29.

The Cooper Convertible S again boasts a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter I4, good for 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque, also managed by the standard 6-speed manual shifter or the available 6-speed shiftable automatic. Mileage figures from this forced-air I4 are again expected to come in at 26/35/29 with the manual transmission, and 25/34/28 in editions equipped with the automatic.

At the top, the 2016 Cooper Convertible JWC is slated to pack an up-powered variant of the turbocharged 1.6-liter I4 powerplant good for 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. Expect 26/35/29 from this peppy rag-top with the manual transmission, and 25/34/28 with the automatic.

Appearance bling for the various 2016 MINI Cooper versions includes--depending on the version selected--16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, heated power-adjustable mirrors, and a hood scoop, with higher-level trims offering an upgraded grille design. The S variants feature a standard limited-slip rear differential and dual center-mounted exhaust pipes, while both JCW trims also tote a sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, and an aerodynamic body kit.

Inside, and also dependent on the roof and trim configuration, look for the 2016 Cooper to boast leatherette or premium cloth upholstery, sport front seats, and full power accessories. Cruise control and telescoping tilt-wheel steering return as standard equipment in all 2016 Coopers, along with dual-zone automatic climate control and a cooled storage bin.

Standard techno-goodies in all Cooper trims include Bluetooth hands-free calling and a 4- or 6-speaker AM/FM radio with an auxiliary audio input.

The 2016 MINI Cooper lineup offers nearly unlimited appearance and interior options, including a wealth of exterior color choices, wheel designs, stripes, badges, trim pieces, and graphics, all presented in off-beat packages with names like Flash, Loaded, Wired, Fully Loaded, Media, and so forth. These packages include add-ons such as MINI Connected infotainment with GPS navigation and smartphone apps, leather upholstery, satellite radio, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio upgrade, with each add-on also available as a standalone option. An available dual-pane panoramic sunroof is again expected for the 2016 Cooper Hatchback iterations, while both the hatchback and the drop-top versions will also offer adjustable suspension dampers, heated front seats, power-folding exterior mirrors, and rear parking sensors.

Standard safety equipment for the 2016 Cooper is slated to include 4-wheel antilock brakes, traction and stability control, and front side-mounted airbags (up-sized in the convertible trio). Standard front knee and front and rear head-protection airbags return for the hardtop versions, with sports pop-up roll bars returning for the convertible. And look for standard daytime running lights, LED headlights and a post-collision safety system in all trims. Current editions of the MINI Cooper Hatchback get 4 out of 5 stars for overall crashworthiness in government tests, as well as a top score of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Look for the 2016 Cooper to again challenge VW’s refined and agile Golf, Fiat’s value-priced 500, Hyundai’s versatile Velostar, and Mazda’s 2-passenger-only MX-5 Miata, outdoing them all for pure, envy-gathering quirkiness.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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