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#6

in 2012 Affordable Sports Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $15,722 - $23,025
Original MSRP: $21,300 - $31,200
MPG: 29 City / 37 Hwy
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2012 Mini Cooper Coupe Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers say the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe offers all the performance attributes of the standard Mini Cooper. Its optional turbocharged engines make the Cooper Coupe a thrill to drive, and the motor is well-mated to either the slick-shifting manual or available automatic transmission.

Like the Cooper hatchback, the Coupe is also a thrill to drive on a twisty road. However, some reviewers say that the Coupe’s performance is only marginally better than the hatchback’s, and they question whether its sporty design and decreased utility is worth the extra money.

  • "Throttle response quickens when sport mode is activated. The six-speed manual offers short, smooth throws and a well-weighted clutch, but even the automatic is enjoyable." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Mechanically, however, very little is different. The engines are cut and paste from the hatchback and if you want go for the John Cooper Works model, you can say the same for the suspension, too. Standard coupes get stiffer dampers and thicker roll bars compared to their hatchback counterparts, but the springs are the same." -- Edmunds 
  • "It may have an English bulldog stance, but the handling eagerness is all Jack Russell terrier." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The Coupe is comfortable enough for long hours of driving, and it's the most viscerally engaging Mini-which is a high bar. It's not only quick, but the flexible, forgiving engine and transmission mean you're not rowing all day." -- Popular Mechanics  

Acceleration and Power

Just like the standard Mini Cooper, all Mini Coupes are front-wheel drive and come with similar engines. The base model gets a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 121 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 114 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm. The S Coupe adds a turbocharger and direct injection, upping the engine’s output to 181 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 177 pound-feet of torque from 1,600 to 5,000 rpm. Both base and S models come with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.

The top-of-the-line John Cooper Works Coupe gets a turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 208 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 192 pound-feet of torque from 1,850 to 5,600 rpm. Mini says that the JCW Coupe is the fastest model the automaker has ever produced. The JCW Coupe will go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and has a top speed of 149 mph. A six-speed manual is the only transmission offered on the JCW Coupe.

Thus far, the only test drives of the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe have been on the more powerful S Coupe and John Cooper Works models. And while most test drivers appreciate the S and JCW Coupes’ torquey engines and well-matched transmissions, many also note that the same drivetrains are available on the standard Mini Cooper. Although the Cooper Coupe boasts sportier exterior styling and a firmer suspension, it’s not much quicker than the Cooper hatchback, which hurts its performance credentials.

The EPA reports that the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe gets 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with a manual transmission, or 28/36 mpg city/highway with the automatic. The Cooper S Coupe gets 27/35 and 26/34 with manual and automatic transmissions, respectively, while the John Cooper Works Coupe gets 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

  • "Torque steer occasionally rears its head during hard acceleration runs, especially when attempting to launch the car on slick or broken surfaces." -- Automobile Magazine (S Coupe) 
  • "For such a small motor, 208 horsepower is a huge output even with a turbo attached. But what really impresses is that this power is delivered so evenly and smoothly across the wide power band, with no lag or slack throttle response." -- Edmunds (John Cooper Works) 
  • "Amazingly, torque steer has been reduced to next-to-nil levels thanks to Mini's tinkerers." -- Motor Trend (John Cooper Works) 
  • "Those less inclined to engage in stoplight-to-stoplight sprints -- or facing a daily megadose of urban commuter crawl time -- may well consider the Steptronic automatic that's optional in the Cooper/Cooper S. While sacrificing a slight measure of absolute control and a couple of tenths in pure acceleration, this paddle-shiftable six-speed impressed us with its quick and positive response to manual commands as well as its overall performance in full-auto mode." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Both Coupe models have flexible torque curves, so acceleration is quick." -- Popular Mechanics (S Coupe and John Cooper Works) 
  • "Mini provided only manual transmissions for us to test, and we found them completely satisfying. Shifting action is direct and positive and the clutch action is smooth and predictable." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe is a competent handler. The Coupe is based on the Cooper Convertible’s chassis, which has structural reinforcements that make for a stiffer platform. Additionally, the base Coupe features stiffer suspension components than the base Mini Cooper. Despite these enhancements, some critics argue that the standard Mini Cooper is just as agile.

  • "What's it like? Very much like almost any other Cooper S. Despite its front-wheel-drive platform, the Mini is remarkably fun to toss around on tight roads thanks to quick, well-weighted steering, coupled with impressive grip and little body roll." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The steering is quick, the tires grippy, and when you really start to fling it, the balance impressively neutral for a front-drive car." -- Edmunds (John Cooper Works)
  • "Only 110 feet are needed to stop the Coupe from 60 mph, thanks to its svelte physique and those aforementioned big binders." -- Motor Trend (John Cooper Works) 
  • "The stiffer structure is obvious; the car darts back to a neutral balance more quickly than the sedan does, and you can induce a bit of oversteer by lifting off the throttle as you wind around an apex (add more brake if you want even more rotation)." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "As is de rigueur for anything wearing the Mini badge, the Cooper Coupe is always in a frisky mood when the road shows off its feminine curves." -- Autoblog 

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