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The Mini Cooper is accessible in two-door hatchback and convertible body styles, both of which seat four people. Those in back will be very cramped unless the folks up front are on the tiny part.
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The Mini manages to please a broad variety of drivers, thanks to its detached trim levels. A relatively demure runabout in its base 121-hp trim, albeit a dynamically well-sorted one, the Cooper is completely content playing grocery-getter or errand-runner. Step up to the 181-hp turbocharged Cooper S or 208-hp John Cooper Works model, however, and the Mini is transformed into a hot hatch with dynamic acceleration and handling. With any engine or transmission (six-speed manual or automatic), owners are treated to excellent fuel economy -- up to 32 combined mpg for the base model and 29 combined mpg for the two turbocharged models
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The Mini is all about agility, however, and is a stand out whether on a serpentine road or just darting through the city. The down side is a rather firm ride, especially with larger wheels fitted. The Mini's tiny size also makes it easy to find a suitable parking spot, though the convertible's compromised rear visibility will make it difficult to get into that spot.
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All Coopers comes well equipped, but the options list is chalk full of countless luxury and customization features. The cabin is endearing to look at, but it can be a head scratcher to use. The pie-plate-sized center-mounted speedometer honors the Mini's past, but from a functional standpoint it's a bit silly. Meanwhile, the climate controls are awkward to use and the stereo controls aren't much better. The phrase "form over function" is quite apt when describing the Mini Cooper's interior.
|2011.mini.cooper Show Beautiful left side|
Overall, though, we've found the Mini Cooper to be one of the most endearing cars on the road. While it may have its flaws, Mini buyers are likely to deem them "quirks" worth living with given this little hatchback and convertible's boundless fun and character.