BMW dropped major coin in designing and engineering the successor to the Mini, one of the motoring world's most popular cars. The German automaker made sure the sauce of engineering talent and marketing savvy was mixed just right, resulting in happy enthusiasts, happy yuppies and happy corporate types.
And while Subaru and Mitsu owners cavort in their cars' rally heritage, Mini was winning the Monte Carlo rally when the first STi's exhaust housing was still unmined iron ore.
The MINI Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper Works are all great bargains, offering BMW quality, refinement and a complete lack of Lucas electronics in a timelessly attractive package.The new MINI, though pitched as a novelty item, has the kind of substance that separates automotive fads from longterm successes.
If an additional $4,700 plus $920 installation for the Works package, which gives you 17 more hp and 19 lb-ft of torque, sounds expensive, we agree. That $4,700, however, buys you a new cylinder head, a larger, higher boost (16 psi) supercharger, cat-back exhaust and a retuned ECU. While other kits promising similar output can cost half as much, they use the standard hardware and don't come with BMW's nifty four-year, 50,000-mile warranty. And where the S poops out at 6000 rpm, the Works screams to its 6950-rpm redline where it makes peak power. Gear ratios are unchanged, but the six cogs are tailored to the Work's strong midrange and screaming top-end powerband.
Despite the only functional changes to the MINI happening under the hood, the entire character of the car is different. The Works edition MINI has the same excellent suspension as the standard supercharged model, but what was a neutral, nimble, fun chassis becomes downright exciting with more thrust.
We find one glaring omission in the Works package: its lack of a limited-slip differential. The car is almost undriveable with the BMW ASC electronic traction control turned on, decimating power output when any wheelspin occurs, which is always.
True fans will remember the Works Cooper smoking the competition in our recent burnout challenge. An open differential, combined with less-than-sticky tires and 159 lb-ft of torque, makes the MINI more than willing to light up the inside front tire for an entire 1/8-mile, 270-degree freeway on-ramp. With good tires and a limited slip, the Cooper S Works could be the most devastating front driver sold in the United States. -Jared Holstein
The StatsBase Price:$25,045Price As Tested:$25,5950-60 mph:7.1 sec.1/4 Mile:15.2 sec. @ 92.4 mphSlalom:68.1 mph (700 ft.)Skidpad:87g (200 ft.)60-0 Braking:123 ft.
Mini Cooper S WorksBest Feature: The Best Chassis Available For The Money.
Worst Feature: Open Differential.
First Three Things We'd Modify:1: Install A Limited-Slip DifferentialIf You Want To Turn And Accelerate At The Same Time, Call Quaife.
2: Air-To-Water IntercoolerSmall Hood Scoop And Air-To-Air Intercooler Don't Cut It Unless You're Banging Through Detroit In December.
3: Make It Less CuteentialLike Our Cooper S Project Car, Our Works Would Be Flat-Black With Skulls On It.