The all-new, third-generation 2014 MINI is the great, great grandson of a true original, and its now on sale at Braman MINI of Palm Beach. As it happens, I know something about MINIs – I’ve owned six of the original MINI (the ones from back in the 1960s), and I’ve done extensive test drives in all three generations of the new MINI, so I feel qualified to say that, in my opinion, this is the best MINI ever.
Why? Well, you know BMW owns MINI, right? But this is the first new MINI that’s really gotten the full BMW treatment, design, materials, engines, technology, etc. If there was something about the earlier generations of new MINI that kept you from buying one, it’s been fixed. And if you’re a MINI owner who’s debating whether to stay with the brand or move on, do yourself a favor and take a test drive.
It’s bigger in every dimension. There’s a turbocharged engine in every car. It parallel parks itself, shifts by satellite and connects with all your digital devices – but it’s still a true original that stands out from the crowd, sips gas and goes like a rocket.
The larger dimensions mean more room for both people and cargo, as well as a smoother ride and better handling (who’d have thought that was possible?). The interior is much more detailed and luxurious with better seats and much improved insulation for lower road noise.
And you don’t have to insert the key in the dash anymore. The new system lets you leave the key in your pocket as you walk up and watch as the doors unlock automatically. Then just slide into the driver’s seat, hit the starter switch and hit the road. You’ll also notice that changes include moving the speedometer over in front of the driver and moving the power window switches to the doors.
This leaves the big space in the center of the dash free to become a screen that controls all the high-tech systems that weren’t available on MINI before – like a head-up display, back-up camera, camera-based intelligent cruise control, parking assistant that parallel parks your car without you touching the steering wheel and an extensive infotainment system that connects with either Android or iPhone.
Under the hood are two new engines, including a 134-horsepower 3-cylinder turbo in the Cooper. It produces 18 more horsepower than last year’s 4-cylinder, goes from 0 to 60 2.5 seconds quicker, and still gets 30 mpg.
The Cooper S gets a 4-cylinder turbo with 198 horsepower (up 19 hp from last year). It’ll do 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds and still average 28 mpg around town. Both come with a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission and three driving modes. Normal is the choice for everyday, while Sport provides a nice performance boost and a great, growly exhaust note. The ‘Green’ mode save fuel and reduces emissions by turning the engine off while idling at a stop and de-coupling the drivetrain while coasting.
And all this for about the same price as last year – maybe a few hundred bucks more, but when you consider all that you’re getting, it’s still a deal. And there are about a million ways to customize the new MINI to suit your personality.