By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 10/3/2011
The fifth new model to be spun from the current Mini platform, the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe is billed as the quickest, fastest, most agile iteration ever. In addition to being the firm's first-ever 2-seat offering, the new Cooper Coupe is also the most distinctively styled. Sharing many basic mechanical and powertrain components with its siblings, as well as the established Mini Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works performance hierarchy, the new Coupe arrives on the scene as an admitted niche player. Its mission is to reach both current Mini owners as well as conquest other young, adventurous, single and mostly male buyers seeking a lower-priced alternative to cars like the Audi TT Coupe, Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class and Porsche Cayman.
If you're a Mini fan willing to trade off a measure of utility for a serious bump in profile and even better dynamics than the Mini Hardtop – or just someone with a serious need for a 2-seat sports car that won't bust the average budget – the new Cooper Coupe could well find a place in your garage.
Even among Mini partisans, the 2012 Cooper Coupe's unique roof configuration is a point of visual contention. If an extra pair of seats takes real-world priority over a slightly more intense adrenaline rush, the Mini Hardtop still offers you an affordable and practical alternative that exacts only a modest fun-to-drive penalty.
Driving the marque into an entirely new market segment, the 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe raises the dynamic bar for the Mini family and sets the stage for what the automaker promises will be an expanded lineup destined to include no fewer that 10 different body styles within the next 10 years.
The 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe offers three distinct levels of enthusiast appeal that each takes a mini step beyond its respective Hardtop cousin. Familiar powertrain lineups deliver similar straight-line performance, with the turbocharged Cooper S and John Cooper Works models providing throttle-induced exhilaration that goes well beyond a baseline Cooper variant. And with its 149-mph top speed, the JCW Coupe is the fastest as well as the quickest production Mini model. Enhanced structural reinforcing and some subtle weight shifting elevates response to steering and braking inputs on all 2012 Cooper Coupes, while slightly stiffer suspension tuning makes them even more adroit corner carvers, and that's no small feat. However, opting for a JCW model does exact a palpable increase cabin noise and ride harshness on rough or uneven road surfaces. A final caveat: The Coupe's smaller greenhouse also compromises side and rear sightlines, particularly when the spoiler rises up at speeds above 50 mph.
Standard on all models, this console-mounted performance enhancer can increase steering effort and quicken throttle response at the touch of a finger. It also engages more aggressive shifting on models equipped with the Steptronic automatic transmission and adds a bit of snap, crackle and pop to the exhaust note of the turbocharged Cooper S and John Cooper Works models on deceleration.
Dynamic Traction Control (DTC)
Standard on the John Cooper Works Coupe and available on all other models, driver-selectable DTC expands the capability of the standard Dynamic Stability Control by offering a third, even more enthusiast-oriented driving mode. It also incorporates Electronic Differential Lock Control that helps prevent the inside front wheel from spinning during hard acceleration out of corners when the DTC and stability control are switched off.