- Roadfly.com: Car Reviews & Road Tests - http://www.roadfly.com -
The 2007 MINI Cooper: A Little More MINI
Posted By Charlie Romero On February 22, 2007 @ 4:22 pm In 2007 Model Year,First Drives,Hatchbacks,MINI | Comments Disabled
The MINI Cooper is all-new for 2007, but you’ll need a microscope and a fine-toothed comb to find out what’s been changed. Fortunately for the MINI faithful, parent company BMW decided to preserve the car’s classic appearance and leave its character essentially the same.
Iconic cult cars like the MINI live in constant peril, one executive goof away from losing all that makes them special. Many a classic car’s quirky appeal has been sacrificed on the altar of luring a few Consumer Reports readers into the fold with promises of ‘something for everyone.’ Luckily, BMW is one of the car industry’s great iconoclasts, so the MINI has soldiered on through its first redesign without a hint of dilution.
This re-working is the essence of “evolution, not revolution.” So we’ll start on the outside. 2007 brings a slight increase in the MINI’s dimensions. It is almost 2.5 inches longer, and the beltline has risen slightly. The front of the MINI has been substantially but subtly revised, with turn signals integrated into the headlight assembly, and the headlights themselves moved towards the corners of the car.
The interior has also been subtly refined. BMW’s first MINI was no slouch in the area of appointments, but the new model benefits from higher-quality seat leather, as well as a generally higher standard for switches and surfaces. For such a small car, headroom and legroom are outstanding even for drivers standing six feet and above. This is mostly due to the new center console, which has been slimmed down substantially, making the footwells roomier.
Most of the quirks from last year’s interior have been retained, like the ubiquitous toggle switches and the huge, round, center-mounted speedometer. It’s hard to visualize this if you haven’t seen it with your own two eyes, but the speedometer’s face actually houses the screen for the optional navigation system.
Now, to the really big changes. Both standard and S models get new engines and transmissions. The old Chrysler-derived motors positively wheezed in comparison to the new mills, developed with the help of experienced small-car maker Peugeot/Citroen. The base 1.6 makes 118 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 3 and 8 respectively. The S motor now makes 175 hp, 5 more than last year, and the power peak has been lowered to 5,500rpm from 6,000. But the motor is now turbocharged rather than supercharged, which is the riskiest change BMW has made to this car.
Superchargers provide healthy boosts in both power and torque, but they rob power from the motor itself in order to run. Turbochargers are much more efficient, but can get peaky as power output climbs. To prevent this, and to make the turbocharged engine ‘feel’ similar to the old blown unit, BMW used a twin-scroll turbo. It’s certainly not peaky, with peak torque of 177 lb-ft (up from 162) arriving at just 1,600 rpm and staying constant until 5,000 rpm.
We expect the new MINI, particularly the S model, will become a tuner favorite. Cars with original-equipment turbos are fabulously easy to tune (think VW’s 1.8/2.0T or Mitsubishi’s 4G63 from the Eclipse and Lancer Evo), while supercharged motors are much more finicky and limited.
The CVT transmission is gone, as is the five-speed automatic. All MINIs get six-speed manuals to start. A six-speed Steptronic auto is optional, and is equipped with paddle shifters mounted on the steering column.
All this progress under the hood produced some interesting results at our first drive at Arizona’s Firebird Raceway. Our fleet of MINI Cooper S models made a full afternoon of dragstrip passes at the hands of professional racers as well as journalists. We were shocked to see that the Steptronics edged out the manuals by a small but significant margin, on nearly every pass. The best 1/4-mile time for a manual was 14.90, while the automatic pulled off a 14.77.
Handling is still superb, and we’d be surprised if the new car doesn’t make short work of the old car’s autocross records. The new MINI is also more stable and civil than its predecessor, and is now just as happy on a long trip as it is on a twisty mountain road.
BMW has refined the MINI Cooper without sacrificing a bit of its charm, or its telepathic communication with its driver. We expect that the legions of MINI fans, who are probably the most diverse group of fans in the world of car enthusiasts, will buy this little thing in droves. And that will be a valuable lesson indeed to car companies everywhere: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Discuss the all new 2007 MINI Cooper in the forums: MINI Cooper Forums 
You can also watch the 2007 MINI Cooper Car Review Video  at YouTube.
Track Video Clip: Video Clip of New MINI Cooper at Firebird Raceway & Dragstrip
Article printed from Roadfly.com: Car Reviews & Road Tests: http://www.roadfly.com
URL to article: http://www.roadfly.com/2007-mini-cooper-2.html
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.roadfly.com%2F2007-mini-cooper-2.html&media=&description=The%202007%20MINI%20Cooper%3A%20A%20Little%20More%20MINI
 MINI Cooper Forums: http://www.roadfly.com/mini/forums/
 2007 MINI Cooper Car Review Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70RFE0_I9tg