- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009

The hip and Euro-looking Mini now has a new top-of-the line, sport-oriented companion to join the hardtop, convertible and clubman models.

The new Mini John Cooper Works is designed for the unconventional purist who desires atypical sports car looks, turbocharged performance and fuel efficiency.

I drove the 2009 John Cooper Works hardtop with a base price of $28,550. This four-passenger sedan is a front-wheel drive turbocharged entry from the automaker with an emphasis on jazzy exterior sporting styling cues complemented by a sport-tuned ride.

Who is John Cooper? He was a boy in England who started racing at age12 in a car his father built in 1923. The father-son team went on to develop a successful professional racing organization called the Cooper Car Co.

On the 2009 model, the 16-valve, 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo is mated to a six-speed Getrag manual transmission. With its subcompact diminutive go-kart measurements of a 97-inch wheelbase and length of 146 inches, the Mini powerplant is rated to produce with all its might a horsepower rating of 208 and 192 lb. ft. of torque. Shifting through the ideally set six-speed gear ratios ensures the driver kart loads of fun driving. The Mini John Cooper Works has an EPA fuel economy rating of 25/33 mpg.

This Mini has a top speed of 147 mph and is rated to go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. The small car is equipped with “extremely powerful brakes” as the automaker describes them, which I found to be grabby. As I lightly applied pressure to the brakes in city driving, the discs grabbed a little too hard, giving the driver the sensation of the tires over-gripping the road. By the end of the week, however, I wasn’t noticing this grab-and-grip characteristic as much.The Mini John Cooper Works is shod with 17-inch run-flat performance tires. Peering through the light alloy rims are Brembo red brake calipers with 12.4 inches ventilated discs in the front and 11-inch rear discs. The sports suspension on the John Cooper Works is supported by firm dampers and strong anti-roll bars. Standard on the subcompact Mini are six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes.

The instrumentation design and layout are throwbacks to look like old world British cars, yet a fresh and zany look keep the Mini modern and youthful in interior appeal. I liked the large, circular speedometer readout flanked by smaller one on either side for other IP readings. The red and black leather-trimmed interior exuded a rich sportiness. The red leather and carbon black interior was a $1,000 option on the tester.

The test vehicle also featured a $1,000 panoramic sunroof with black mesh covers to filter light and air. This was a great option on the small car that reduced the feeling of contained confinement. Oddly, air conditioning was an option. With a nearly $30,000 base price, A/C should be standard, not a $500 add-on. Heated seats were a $500 extra on the tester. The out-the-door price on the 2009 Mini was $33,550.

Mini makes available a range of interior trim options, as well as comfort features. A selection of 10 paint colors allows an even wider range of choices for the buyer.

Iconic British styling is one of the biggest appeal factors of the Mini. In fact, the Mini was named top honors in the compact car category of the 2009 Best Resale Value Awards by Kelley Blue Book. One of the factors driving its high standing is the personalization the Mini allows to its owners.

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Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009


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