2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop First Drive

2014 MINI Cooper S 9 photos
Photo: Original image by autoevolution
2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop2014 MINI Cooper S Hardtop
Ever since the first spy shots of the 2014 MINI Cooper S model reached our headquarters we were extremely curious to experience BMW’s first front-wheel-drive platform, internally codenamed UKL1. If we were to believe the Germans, the cars built on this new architecture would bring the fun feeling of rear-wheel-drive to cars that sent their propulsion to the other end of the ride. Needless to say we were reluctant.
When we were invited to test drive the Cooper S, we went over with an open heart, hoping that the Germans, with their precision and perfect engineering, didn’t take away any of the Brit’s brilliance and feel. Did they succeed? In a word: almost.

Looking at the new model it’s hard to mistake it for anything else but a MINI. Forget what you saw on the internet, all the pretty pictures of it that are going online right now. The car looks a lot better in reality and, to put it simple, its design is just as it should be.

The revamped styling oozes evolution more than anything. The team of designers knew that the core, trademark features had to stay and, if possible, be enhanced. That’s probably why, the new car looks like the old one but with bigger... everything. From the headlights and the meaner front bumper than now has two extra air intakes on its lower half, to the rear end and its huge taillights (that even though look big, somehow fit in the picture).

From a visual point of view though, the biggest changes happened inside the car. As some celebrities would put it: this is where the magic happens. That’s because the Mk3 model now looks as if it’s in the 20th century and for the demographic it’s aiming at, this will make all the difference in the world.

The seats are comfortable and, in the Cooper S version, offer plenty of side support being wide enough even for bigger people. The doors feature new ambient lights and they finally have the electric-window buttons on them, a treat a lot of people and MINI enthusiasts have been asking for a long time. In the back, the seats can acommodate medium sized people (and we mean people that don’t go over 165 cm or 5 ft. 5 in. by too much) while the boot is still pretty small, even for this segment.

Going over the center console you’ll immediately notice the biggest change of all: the oversized speedometer is gone. While some purists would claim that this is the final nail in the coffin of MINI’s diluted DNA, using the car in 2014 with the added functionality of that screen, makes driving the new model a lot easier.

Instead of the huge needle and numbering we get a beautiful design encompassing a navigation screen that looks a lot like the one used on BMWs with a high-resolution display and all the useful information you need on it. The navigation now has 3D maps and all the other functions are easy to use due to the new MINI ConnectedDrive system - a rebranded iDrive with funkier styling. Even the controller is the same, but it could’ve been positioned better, as the armrest really makes using it a living hell.

The display has nice LED units around the outer edge of the circular instrument that both change colors depending on the driving mode you’re into and provide interesting info when you’re using other features of the car. For example, when adjusting the climate control, the lights change accordingly, covering more or less of the ring.

Speaking of the climate controls, they were also changed and got a circular design showing you the set temperature and the ventilation stage while, at the same time, being pretty easy to use. Right under them you’ll find the same toggle-switch styled controls that operate the DSC system and other features, alongside the best button in the car, the one that starts or stops the madness.

The start button turned red and has a design that looks as if it was taken straight out of a jet fighter, being surrounded by a red led ring that pulsates when the car is off, as if it’s teasing you to start the engine.
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