4-Door Fun | 2015 MINI Cooper S

September 2015 View more

P90151652_highRes_800pxZoom! Zip! Pow! And now, with four doors. The MINI Cooper created a sensation a dozen years ago when BMW unveiled its thoroughly modern, extremely stylish take on the iconic British Mini. Over the ensuing years, the MINI’s novelty wore off, which always seems to be the case with the hot new car, but buyers continued lining up. The small + sporty + high-style equation just works.

And now comes the all-new 2015 MINI Cooper S Hardtop 4-Door—a slightly less small car with a slightly longer name, and all the attributes that make the MINI so great.

Interior Redesign

The small rear doors definitely make the MINI a whole lot more convenient for people who regularly carry passengers. The back seats are easily accessible, and a few extra inches of legroom back there go a long way toward making the seats more useful for adults. The roofline on the 4-Door is also a bit higher than on the more sculpted two-door hardtop, which is a boon for headroom. The roof is so big, in fact, that the back seat gets its own sunroof.

But lest you worry that choosing a four-door MINI will make you a sellout, know that the The MINI 4-Door is still a diminutive car. Tall front-seat passengers will slide their seats well back into the rear seat zone. Rear seat passengers will be comfortable but not expansively so. And drivers’ right elbows have a tendency to nudge wayward front passenger elbows during particularly robust rowing of the standard six-speed manual transmission.

NMAG0915_FortheRoad_P90152344_highRes_800pxUnder the Hood

And there definitely will be robust shifting. The Cooper S has a 189-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that feels even more powerful. Paired with the utterly forgiving manual transmission, the Cooper S is ideal for spirting driving and perfectly comfortable in stop-and-go commuting. The clutch engages smoothly, the shifter slides easily into its appointed slot, and the gear ratios mean that there always seems to be enough power to get moving and to keep moving.

The MINI’s quick steering and small footprint invite in-and-out driving. Why stay in your lane when taking a slalom-course path feels so fun? Thankfully, the side mirrors are remarkably effective—virtually eliminating blind spots. With such a short wheelbase, the MINI transmits the undulations of rough roads straight into the supportive seats.

When an inconsiderate stop light puts a temporary halt to the forward momentum, take a moment to enjoy the interior design, where MINI continues to shine, 12 years after showing how cool a small car could be.

High-quality? Check. Whimsical? You better believe it. Now that just about every car has a push-button starter, for example, the MINI has kept up its quirkiness quotient with a bright red, fighter-jet-style “start/stop” toggle switch. Colorful lights shine from many nooks and crannies, turning the cabin very festive after dark.

NMAG0915_FortheRoad_P90152343_highRes_800pxAnd thankfully, while the MINI’s hallmark large round center gauge remains, it now houses the radio display, not the speedometer. The circumference of that center display even lights up to announce various things. For example, if you turn up the fan, a light will rotate clockwise in tandem with the fan control.

The Bottom Line

The 2015 MINI Cooper S Hardtop 4-Door starts at $25,100. The basic Cooper Hardtop 4-Door, the one without the S, starts at $21,700. It has a novel, turbocharged three-cylinder engine and 134 horsepower. As befits MINI’s sense of humor, both models are available with the “Fully Loaded Package.”

Photo courtesy of ©2015 BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC