By Larry Lark, contributor
They don’t come around very often, but when they do – I’m all in.
I’m referring to the MINI Cooper, and in particular, the newly refreshed 2022 S hardtop, two-door hatchback version. MINI is almost like driving a go cart. Maneuverability and agility are off the charts.
The new model receives significant updates to the exterior, interior, and driving safety features while remaining authentic to the elements of the MINI DNA, including fun to drive, expressive design and personalization.
My tester was powered by a 2.0-liter, MINI TwinPower turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed sport dual clutch automatic transmission. The combination delivers 189 horsepower, 207 lb-ft of torque, and 38 miles per gallon fuel economy down the highway.
MINI Cooper S seats four adults, but two would be optimum. The back seat is tight, no matter how you cut it. I preferred folding down the split/fold rear seats, allowing more than enough room for groceries, golf clubs, and the like. It passed the trip to Costco test with room to spare.
The first thing you notice about the MINI Cooper S is its multi-colored roof. A first for the automotive industry, the Cooper S roof is a color gradient of Soul Blue, Pearly Aqua, and Jet Black in combination with black mirror caps. The result is striking – and different.
Cooper S features new side scuttle designs and wheel arch trims that emphasize the sportiness of the vehicle. The look is enhanced by 19-inch, Pulse, two-tone spoke wheels. Completing the design is a twin-tailpipe exhaust system, framed to sophisticated effect in one sweeping movement by body-colored surfaces. The MINI John Cooper Works also now features an eye-catching diffuser to provide the tail of the car with dynamic racing intent.
When hopping into the cockpit, the driver and passenger will undoubtedly notice the 8.8“-circular screen embedded in the center instrument design, which is now standard on all models. It gives the appearance of a “porthole”, and is truly unique.
It is combined with the all-new user experience with a completely modernized look & feel, configurable live widgets and two available color schemes (Lounge & Sport). Sirius Satellite Radio is now also standard on all MINIs across the range. The new and contemporary interior atmosphere is rounded off with ambient light, with six different colors always matching perfectly to the selected mode.
My tester came equipped with “Iconic” trim which features a heated steering wheel, power folding mirrors, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, performance summer tires and a spectacular Harman Kardon premium audio system with six speakers.
Other creature comforts included a heads-up display, navigation system, dynamic cruise control, Apple CarPlay capability, wireless charging, Concierge services, Bluetooth connectivity, rear view camera, and a dynamic digital cluster.
MINI Cooper S benefits from dynamic stability control, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution, McPherson struts in the front, and a multi-link rear suspension.
When driving a small car, safety features become a concern. Evasion won’t work in all
instances. MINI Cooper S receives an active driving assistant that included forward collision, pedestrian and lane departure warnings, high-beam assist, heated exterior mirrors, tire pressure monitoring system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and LED headlights with bad weather lights and LED Union Jack taillights.
Base Price: $27,750
Price As Driven: $36,250
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.