2009 model year info: The hardtops

MINIThe MINI Experience Continues:

Go-kart-driving fun, an interior that provides the maximum amount of car in the minimum amount of space and a myriad of personalization possibilities keep the 2009 MINI Cooper and Cooper S on top of the small-car premium segment as sales continue to grow, bettering the previous year’s.

The body of the latest generation MINI – introduced in 2007 – boasts evolutionary development from the iconic 1959 Classic Mini, while the interior, including styling cues are evocative of the original and contain the latest technological advances found today. And powering either the 2009 MINI Cooper or MINI Cooper S are a pair of four-cylinder engines resembling the original MINI’s in cylinder number and placement, transversely over the front axle, but far more efficient, cleaner and powerful.

Performance plays a major role in providing driving fun and the four-cylinder engines of the MINI hardtops deliver. The turbocharged 1.6-liter version in the Cooper S produces 172 horsepower, eclipsing the magical “100-hp-per-liter” measure revered by enthusiasts. This translates into 0-to-60 mph acceleration in 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 139 mph. The naturally-aspirated engine in the Cooper, also 1.6 liters, features variable valve control and accelerates this agile two-door athlete to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, with top speed of 126 mph.

[Editor’s note: Guinness, my earlier 1275cc/1.3 liter “64” Mk1 Mini was clocked at 115mph and erm, it went from 0-60 very quickly.. never counted off how many seconds it took.. but with a tighter turning radius and the overall chuckability the classics are known for, it sure beat the pants off the new MINI in the twisties.. not quite as impressive off the line though, to be sure..no turbo, supercharger, ECU, or any of that]

Despite their much higher level of dynamic performance and sporting character, both MINIs return superior fuel economy, with the MINI Cooper S having a preliminary 2009 EPA fuel economy estimate of 26 City/34 Highway mpg for a combined preliminary EPA estimate of 29 mpg. The MINI Cooper is even more efficient with preliminary EPA 2009 estimates of 28/37 City/Highway for a combined rating of 32 mpg.

[Editor’s note: Yep, almost as good as a classic Mini. It’s a shame, in fact almost embarrasing that with all this high tech gadgetry the MINI does so poorly in the MPG department.. but then whoever said sports cars were good on mileage? Compared to even the best MPG 2009 Mustang V6, that’s still great mileage! Uh, that’s just not fair. The MINI has more back seat room, better MPG, and is less expensive than the Ford.. but I digress..]

Both engine variants are fitted transversely under the bonnet and power the front wheels. Composite – instead of conventional cast – camshafts and weight-optimized crankshafts are part of the lightweight concept of the aluminum power units. Fuel consumption, in turn, is optimized by a volume flow-controlled oil pump and an electronically-controlled water pump for the coolant circuit – two technical features previously limited to larger and more expensive model segments.

The MINI Cooper and the MINI Cooper S both come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Both models can be ordered with an optional six-speed automatic transmission that features a sport mode and includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

With its low center of gravity and wide stance that moves the wheels to the extreme corners of the car, agile and nimble driving behavior is guaranteed as is that go-kart feeling. The modified structure of the body shell as well as a wide range of safety features, in turn, help to ensure the 2009 MINI meets or exceeds all accident-protection requirements. In a recent NHTSA test, MINI excelled in all aspects with four- and five-star ratings.

Compared with the MINI Cooper, the MINI Cooper S has a more sporting suspension set-up, and as an option both models are available with sports suspension for an even higher standard of driving pleasure.

The EPAS Electrical Power-Assisted Steering helps make the MINI even more nimble and agile on the road, as speed-related assistance ensuring low steering forces when parking and precise control at high speeds. And when the standard Sport button is depressed, EPAS offers a sportier mode that specifically increases steering forces for an even more direct driving experience.