- - Sunday, June 7, 2015

I took the fun little 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop Hatchback for a spin during the holidays this year on a road trip to New Orleans and the Cooper more than outshined. With quick acceleration and a tight ride most Mini Cooper fans adore this little car and so did I. It’s easy handling and I felt a real confidence since it rained the entire time I drove the eight plus hours to my destination.

New on the 2015 Mini Cooper hatchback this year is that, while you can still get the traditional two-door, there is also a four-door version as well.

As for the hatchback version of the Mini, 2015 is the second year for this option with last year offering Mini Cooper fans a complete redesign including a turbocharged engine and some important interior changes too. However, the big deal this year is the four doors being offered since that means more room overall for hauling and you can even fit five passengers with the 6.3 inches more of space in the four door versus the two door option.

Competition for the 2015 Mini Cooper includes the Volkswagen Golf or the GTI, the Fiat 500, Hyundai Veloster or to a lesser degree the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

The 2015 Mini Coopers all come equipped with heated mirrors and automatic climate control and there are the two- or four-door hatchbacks to choose from as well as the two-door convertible. The two-door hatchbacks and the convertible can also be had in the base trim or the Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW) trims.

If you opt for the convertible, you get a power soft top with a glass window in the back and a sunroof function too.

For the four-door hatchback option, this one only comes in the base Cooper or the Cooper S trim.

Standard equipment on the two- and four-door Mini Cooper hatchbacks are 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjustable driving modes, a refrigerated glove box, cruise control, height-adjustable seats in the front with a high-end vinyl and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. There is also cool color-adjustable ambient lighting and techno goodies, like Bluetooth connect and six speakers with a USB/iPod adapter and an auxiliary input jack.

For the Mini Cooper S in the hatchback, there is a hood scoop, black mesh grille, dual center-mounted exhaust, 16-inch wheels with run-flat tires, LED fog lights and sport seats.

For the John Cooper Works hatchback, you up that to 17-inch wheels, a sportier suspension, aerodynamic body kit, sport steering wheel and special upholstery.

For the 2015 Mini Cooper convertible, you get all the base features from years before with 16-inch wheels and the Cooper S and Cooper JCW convertible has all the same goodies as on the hardtops.

For additional options, you can add the LED fog lights and sport seats to the base Mini Cooper and there are also features in groups like the Flash, Wired or Loaded packages with a variety of perks such as LED and xenon headlights, 17 or 18-inch wheels, chrome exterior trim, dual-pane sunroof, power-folding mirrors and even a rearview camera or automated parking system.

Under the hood, the base Mini Cooper hatchback has a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque including a six-speed manual transmission, but automatic is an option.

If you want a little more, the Cooper S hatchback is a good choice with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine offering 189 horsepower ad 207 pound-feet of torque. With this, you can get the six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Finally, the John Cooper Works hatchback is the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. This one comes with a six-speed manual, but you can get the automatic option too.

The hatchbacks also have the automatic stop-start feature and that means the engine shuts down when the vehicle is stopped for an added fuel savings.

The convertible engines are a bit different with the base offering a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that has 121 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque and a six-speed manual, but optional automatic transmission.

The Cooper S convertible is turbocharged with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque coming in the six-speed manual or an option of a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters as an option too.

Finally, the John Cooper Works convertible will give you an engine that is a 1.6-liter with 208 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, manual six-speed with a six-speed automatic available as well.

For safety, the features on all the 2015 Mini Coopers are antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control and front-seat side airbags. On the hatchback versions, you get front knee and full-length side curtain airbags and the convertible Mini Coopers have pop-up rollover bars and front side airbags that extend higher up. The options for add ons are the rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.

With enough room for comfortable driving in town or on a road trip like I did, the 2015 Mini Cooper is a fun ride inside and out. The convertible still kept to its roots with the large center-mounted speedometer and the hardtops are also easy to navigate inside the cabin with easy to control knobs as well as an optional 8.8-inch display screen and the speedometer is stand-alone on top of the steering column. Even easier too are the controls for the windows and doors and take note of the high-end material used for the new Mini — indeed more than adequate.

The seats in the Mini Cooper are definitely comfortable for a long drive and for the two-door hatchback you get 8.7 cubic feet behind the seats or if the back seats are folded down its 34 cubic feet. On the four door, you will do even better at 13.1 cubic feet or 40.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. With the convertible you get less roominess at only six cubic feet or 23.3 cubic feet when the rear seat is down.

Behind the wheel, well that is when the 2015 Mini Cooper really shows off its stuff since it’s an easy drive all around with a firmness and handling that you can appreciate. But it’s also just a stellar driving experience and when opting for one of the turbo charged engines it’s one of the most fun ways I have gotten from point A to B in some time.

Should You Need to Know: The convertible Mini Cooper has the same hardware inside as in the past and take note the JCW hardtop version of the Mini Cooper will give you 60 miles per hour in just one second under six in the automatic or a quick 6.1 seconds in the manual.

Miles Per Gallon: Overall the 2015 Mini Cooper comes in at about 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: Count on spending about $25,000 give or take for the 2015 Mini Cooper depending on the trim level you opt for and any extra features.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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