2014 MINI Hardtop

2014 Hardtop Photos
One of the big challenges as an automotive journalist is reviewing cars that you have a personal connection to. I have a strong passion for Minis. My first new car was a 2004 Cooper S, and I still own a 2006 model. It's this affinity that's left me with a general disdain of the 2007 to 2013 model relative to my first-gen. The last-generation cars, with their turbocharged engines, softer suspensions, duller steering and homelier looks are, in my mind, inferior to their 2002 to 2006 predecessors. As a car reviewer, though, I couldn't in good conscience argue the same point. The R56, as the last-gen cars were known internally and by enthusiasts, was a better-balanced vehicle that retained the lion's share of the abilities and character of the first-generation, R53 Cooper S, but they were better thought out, better designed, more livable, and felt like more complete products. Before the third-generation of the reborn Mini Cooper S landed in my driveway, I couldn't help but wonder whether the model would continue its slide towards mass appeal, or if it would re-embrace the enthusiast realm with a stronger driver-focused mission. As I found out during my week with the car, it was a bit of both. The overall effect is of an out-of-proportion and nose-heavy look. An immediate point of contention with this latest design is this car's appearance. I didn't much care for the F56, as this latest-generation is called, when it debuted ahead of the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. As Senior Editor Ewing eloquently put it, the latest Mini looked like a "frightened goldfish." I'm still not crazy about its looks now that I've been so exposed to it. The front fascia, the design's most polarizing design aspect, does look better in Moonwalk Gray, but it still looks a bit startled. What I can't get over, though, is this Mini's newly enlarged front overhang in combination with its slightly longer wheelbase, which has grown from 97.1 inches in 2013 to 98.2 for 2014. Despite this small increase, the vehicle's overall length has jumped from 146.8 inches to 151.1 inches. With most of that increase ahead of the front axle, the overall effect is of an out-of-proportion and nose-heavy look. There are plenty of other design aspects that work, though. The overlarge taillights contribute to the tail's tidy looks. The center-exit exhaust is still standard on the Cooper S, but it highlights a cleaner rear-bumper treatment. The side grilles have been given a minimalist makeover that works out nicely, providing a bit of brightwork to the car's profile. It's like Mini has upped the size of all the cabin's styling elements without actually increasing the amount of space. A Mini's cabin is always going to be an interesting place, but few models before this one have felt so well built. While the cabin is predominantly plastic as you'd expect, it feels solid and durable. I enjoyed my tester's off-white trim pieces, which helped brighten up the overall …
Full Review
One of the big challenges as an automotive journalist is reviewing cars that you have a personal connection to. I have a strong passion for Minis. My first new car was a 2004 Cooper S, and I still own a 2006 model. It's this affinity that's left me with a general disdain of the 2007 to 2013 model relative to my first-gen. The last-generation cars, with their turbocharged engines, softer suspensions, duller steering and homelier looks are, in my mind, inferior to their 2002 to 2006 predecessors. As a car reviewer, though, I couldn't in good conscience argue the same point. The R56, as the last-gen cars were known internally and by enthusiasts, was a better-balanced vehicle that retained the lion's share of the abilities and character of the first-generation, R53 Cooper S, but they were better thought out, better designed, more livable, and felt like more complete products. Before the third-generation of the reborn Mini Cooper S landed in my driveway, I couldn't help but wonder whether the model would continue its slide towards mass appeal, or if it would re-embrace the enthusiast realm with a stronger driver-focused mission. As I found out during my week with the car, it was a bit of both. The overall effect is of an out-of-proportion and nose-heavy look. An immediate point of contention with this latest design is this car's appearance. I didn't much care for the F56, as this latest-generation is called, when it debuted ahead of the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. As Senior Editor Ewing eloquently put it, the latest Mini looked like a "frightened goldfish." I'm still not crazy about its looks now that I've been so exposed to it. The front fascia, the design's most polarizing design aspect, does look better in Moonwalk Gray, but it still looks a bit startled. What I can't get over, though, is this Mini's newly enlarged front overhang in combination with its slightly longer wheelbase, which has grown from 97.1 inches in 2013 to 98.2 for 2014. Despite this small increase, the vehicle's overall length has jumped from 146.8 inches to 151.1 inches. With most of that increase ahead of the front axle, the overall effect is of an out-of-proportion and nose-heavy look. There are plenty of other design aspects that work, though. The overlarge taillights contribute to the tail's tidy looks. The center-exit exhaust is still standard on the Cooper S, but it highlights a cleaner rear-bumper treatment. The side grilles have been given a minimalist makeover that works out nicely, providing a bit of brightwork to the car's profile. It's like Mini has upped the size of all the cabin's styling elements without actually increasing the amount of space. A Mini's cabin is always going to be an interesting place, but few models before this one have felt so well built. While the cabin is predominantly plastic as you'd expect, it feels solid and durable. I enjoyed my tester's off-white trim pieces, which helped brighten up the overall …
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Retail Price

$19,950 - $23,600 MSRP / Window Sticker Price
Engine 1.5L I-3, 2.0L I-4
MPG Up to 29 city / 40 highway
Seating 4 Passengers
Transmission 6-spd man w/OD
Power 134 - 189 hp
Drivetrain front-wheel
Curb Weight 2,605 - 2,760 lbs
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