MOTOR MATTERS KEANE ON WHEELS BY CONNIE KEANE
The hip and Euro-trendy-looking Mini now has a new top-of-the line, sport-oriented companion to join the hardtop, convertible and clubman models.
The new Mini John Cooper Works is designed for the unconventional purist who desires atypical sports car looks, turbocharged performance and fuel efficiency.
I drove the 2009 John Cooper Works hardtop with a base price of $28,550. This four-passenger sedan is a front-wheel drive turbocharged entry from the automaker with an emphasis on jazzy exterior sporting styling cues complemented by a sport-tuned ride. Who is John Cooper? He was a boy in England who started racing at the age of 12 in a car his father built in 1923. The father-son team went on to develop a successful professional racing organization called the Cooper Car Company.
On the 2009 model, the 16-valve, 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo is mated to a six-speed Getrag manual transmission. With its subcompact diminutive go-kart measurements of a 97-inch wheelbase and length of 146 inches, the Mini powerplant is rated to produce with all its might a horsepower rating of 208 and 192 lb.-ft. of torque. Shifting through the ideally set six-speed gear ratios ensures the driver kart loads of fun driving. The Mini John Cooper Works has an EPA fuel economy rating of 25/33 mpg.
This Mini has a top speed of 147 mph and is rated to go from 0-to-60 mph in 6.2 seconds. The small car is equipped with “extremely powerful brakes” as the automaker describes them, which I found to be grabby. As I lightly applied pressure to the brakes in city driving, the discs grabbed a little too hard, giving the driver the sensation of the tires over-gripping the road. By the end of the week, however, I wasn’t noticing this grab-and-grip characteristic so much.
The Mini John Cooper Works is shod with 17-inch run-flat performance tires.
Peering through the light alloy rims are Brembo red brake calipers with 12.4 inches ventilated discs in the front and 11-inch rear discs. The sports suspension on the John Cooper Works is supported by firm dampers and strong anti-roll bars. Standard on the subcompact Mini are six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes.
The instrumentation design and layout are throwbacks to look like old world British cars, yet a fresh and zany look keep the Mini modern and youthful in interior appeal. I liked the large, circular speedometer readout flanked by smaller one on either side for other IP readings. The red and black leather-trimmed interior exuded a rich sportiness. The red leather and carbon black interior was a $1,000 option on the tester.
The test vehicle also featured a $1,000 panoramic sunroof with black mesh covers to filter light and air. This was a great option on the small car that reduced the feeling of contained confinement. Oddly, air conditioning was an option. With a nearly $30,000 base price, a/c should be standard, not a $500 add-on. Heated seats were a $500 extra on the tester. The out-the-door price on the 2009 Mini was $33,550.
Mini makes available a range of interior trim options, as well as comfort features. A selection of 10 paint colors allows an even wider range of choices for the buyer.
Iconic British styling is one of the biggest appeal factors of the Mini. In fact, the Mini was named top honors in the compact car category of the 2009 Best Resale Value Awards by Kelley Blue Book. One of the factors driving its high standing is the personalization the Mini allows to its owners.
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Next week: 2009 Hyundai Genesis
2009 MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 4-passenger FWD subcompact sedan
BASE PRICE___________________ $28,550 (as tested: $33,550)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 208 at 6000 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 192 at 1850-5600 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed manual
WHEELBASE____________________ 97 in.
TRACK (front/rear)___________ 57/58 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 146 in.
OVERALL WIDTH________________ 50 in.
HEIGHT_______________________ 55 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 35 ft.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 2.701 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 13 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
CAR OF THE YEAR: The all-new Hyundai Genesis took top honors in the most exclusive award in North America when it was named 2009 North American Car of the Year. “Genesis represents everything we’ve learned, so far, about engineering great automobiles — and we’re delighted that the judges have recognized the good work of our R&D teams,” said John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America acting president and chief executive officer. “And we’re not stopping here. Genesis will share company in Hyundai showrooms this spring with its rear-wheel drive platform-mate, the Genesis Coupe.”
BUY AMERICAN: The latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research data indicates that nearly three-quarters of car shoppers say they prefer to buy American-made products. More than half of the survey respondents say they try to buy American-made products if they are readily available and price-competitive, and 14 percent say they will go out of their way to buy American. “Seeing the domestic automakers’ recent struggle has ignited a heightened sense of patriotism among some American car shoppers, and the latest Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research indicates that people are pulling for the Big Three to survive and thrive,” said KBB’s Jack R. Nerad.
CAR BUYING: Nearly half of Americans (48 percent) say they will wait longer before their next vehicle purchase, according to Consumer Reports. The number one reason people delayed purchase is that their vehicle is in good shape (39 percent). The other top reasons are: Vehicles have become too expensive (30 percent), general concern for the weak economy (30 percent), consumers are waiting for fuel-saving technologies, like hybrids to become more affordable (18 percent), and interest rates for vehicle financing are too high (18 percent).
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009