Home2014 Detroit Auto Show
Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Mini Cooper
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What is it? Redesigned for 2015, the new Mini is bigger, growing about an inch in wheelbase, 4.5 inches in overall length, and almost two inches in width. The result is a larger, roomier Mini—parameters that seem at odds with heritage but likely appreciated by shoppers.

With a face like a battle-ready Pokemon, the new Mini has a wide, angry mouth and an otherwise familiar shape. The two-tone combinations continue, with LED headlamps providing an upscale flair.

Depending on trim, underhood is either a 134-hp three-cylinder or 189-hp four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Transmission offerings are a six-speed manual or automatic.

Again, the top model will be a full John Cooper Works edition, with additional power, suspension tuning, exterior enhancements (front fascia, side sills, rear fascia, spoiler), and interior dress.

The cabin looks downright evolutionary, ensuring Mini owners will find it a comfortable transition. Circles abound, with the dash center hosting a basic info screen or a large 8.8-inch touchscreen, depending on equipment levels. The infotainment advances with modern app-enabled functionality and an iDrive-like rotary dial control, continuing the circle theme. The Mini Connected program uses smart-phone connectivity to provide mobile access to Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Cloud Player, Audible, Pandora, and numerous other brand-name distractions. An LED ring around the display changes colors in reaction to driver commands, such as turning blue or red to indicate climate control changes, or changing green, yellow, or red to reflect parking sensor information.

Driver aids include an available heads-up display, rearview camera, active cruise control, and accident avoidance with brake intervention. A parking assistant can identify suitable parking spaces and handle the steering necessary to maneuver into the spot, while the driver operates the throttle, braking, and gear selection.

What is new or notable? New driving modes allow the driver to configure the personality to the situation, such as thrifty or sporty driving. Depending on how the car is equipped, the modes can alter shift characteristics, accelerator response, engine sound, steering response, and even LED mood lighting.

CR's take: Turning to turbos for a balance of fuel efficiency and fun seems a natural, but with Mini, it is a shame, as historically their turbo models have been less reliable. This Cooper is all new, so we’ll have to wait and see what the data shows.

When will it be available? Fall 2014.

Consumer Reports New cars: A to Z

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