MINI Cooper Performance
Reviewers like the 2007 MINI Cooper's fun driving experience and updated engine, suspension and steering systems. "These cars handle like karts, shift like BMWs, and get along pretty briskly -- especially in the high-performance versions," praises Car and Driver.
Most reviewers see the base four-cylinder engine as somewhat lacking in power. While Edmunds finds "not much horsepower" in the BMW-engineered MINI, the car makes up for it with a "fun-to-drive personality."
A benefit of its petite size, reviewers love that the petite MINI can fit into even the smallest of parking spaces, so much so that two editors at CNET decided to test it out with a parallel parking challenge. After repeated attempts, they conclude, "Besides proving the superior parker, we also showed that the Mini can fit into a 15-foot parking space."
Acceleration and Power
Under the hood, the 2007 MINI Cooper packs a new alloy 16-valve 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It outputs 118 horsepower in the base model and 172 horsepower in the turbocharged S version. The 2007 base trim level's EPA-estimated fuel economy is 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on highways with the manual transmission. For the automatic, it's 26 mpg in the city and 33 on highways. Premium fuel is recommended.
Most reviewers see the engine power in either trim level as modest, "but they get by just fine in traffic and the Cooper S loves to rev," says TechnoRide. Kelley Blue Book echoes, "In Cooper trim, the MINI has adequate acceleration but needs to be shifted down a gear or two to maintain speed when driving uphill on the freeway. The Cooper S comes equipped with a turbocharged engine that provides ample power with virtually no lag."
Both the Cooper and Cooper S come with a six-speed manual transmission and optional six-speed automatic. AutoWeek found a minor problem with the manual during a test drive: "I also found the shift into fifth gear was routinely accompanied by a gnashing and crashing of gears, as if a synchro was out of whack or something (yes, I had the clutch all the way to the floor)," the reviewer says. But Kelley Blue Book is pleased with the transmission, noting that "Its light, easy-to-use clutch, smooth ride and quick-shifting transmission make commuting in the redesigned MINI more pleasant than in the outgoing model."
A unique feature is the standard Sport button, which increases steering effort and speeds up shifts in MINIs equipped with automatic transmissions. Kelley Blue Book praises, "The result is a much more livable car during daily drives, with all the sporting flair of the old MINI available at the touch of a button."
Handling and Braking
The majority of reviewers thoroughly enjoy driving the 2007 MINI Cooper. Reviewers find the lively handling a particularly pleasing aspect of the driving experience. "Responses to driver input are quick, and the Cooper sucks its driver into the experience, delivering lots of feedback through the steering wheel, driver seat and pedals," says Edmunds.
In the 2007 MINI Cooper hatchback, a new electric power steering system replaces the former model's hydraulic steering. The system enables variable steering at different speeds while damping road vibration. New Car Test Drive explains, "Input/output ratios can be changed during the course of a turn, not just varying with vehicle speed. In the MINI, this means that the initial turn-in is cushioned slightly, so the car doesn't feel as go-kart twitchy as the previous model, but once a constant turning radius is established, it takes almost no effort to maintain the turn, regardless of speed."
Though reviewers say the new steering is very responsive, some feel it's a little too overzealous. Comments Automobile Magazine, "The new MINI, just like its predecessor, has a very fast steering rack -- but it makes for an irritatingly responsive multilane tool. There's no sneeze factor here: twitch your left index finger and the Cooper S has eyes for the next lane, and possibly the one after that." Regardless, reviewers remain pleased with the 2007 model's steering feedback. "It's light, quick, and provides reasonably good feedback. Only coming out of the tightest of turns with the accelerator mashed to the floor does the steering wheel give a twitch from torque steer," says Motor Trend.
The 2007 model features a new performance suspension with MacPherson spring struts in front and a multilink setup in back with modified geometry and an additional control arm. Reviewers feel the new system provides a very controlled ride over bumps, even if it's a little spongy at times in the base model. "The hatchback's revised suspension and upgraded run-flat tires provide a better-controlled ride over bumps and ruts," says Edmunds. Reviewers assure that "Any vestige of base-model sponge is gone in the S," according to AutoWeek. "There is precious little roll and no residual bounce going over bumps." Motor Trend also suggests the optional Sport Suspension Package for a nicer, less spongy ride: "With a thicker anti-roll bar, stiffer damping, modified spring rates, and 17-inch wheels, the grip becomes downright tenacious," the reviewer praises.
Reviewers have mixed opinions on the feel of the MINI Cooper's front and rear disc brake system. Consumer Guide Automotive asserts that stopping control is " first-rate, with fine pedal feel." However, MSN Autos describes the brake pedal as " touchy, although stopping distances are short." The Auto Channel sums up the sentiment, commenting, "Brakes seem up to the task of hard driving on the road, but repeated extreme stops on the race course required a quick cool-down lap."
The 2007 MINI Cooper comes standard with a four-cylinder 118-horsepower engine. Available transmissions are a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic.
The higher-level S model comes with the same engine in a turbocharged version, enabling it to put out a peppier 172 horsepower. Available transmissions are a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic.