Abarth who? Living in the heart of downtown Toronto has drastically changed my view on what the ideal commuter vehicle is.
Living in the heart of downtown Toronto has drastically changed my view on what the ideal commuter vehicle is. When I moved here, I had a Mazda3. I eventually progressed to a manual transmission Mini Cooper, and of course the plethora of test cars that I’m fortunate enough to experience. I’ve driven every type of car through the urban core’s bustling streets, from a Cadillac Escalade to a dually pickup right through various versions of the Fiat 500. Experiencing so many different vehicles helps me both hone my skills as a driver, as well as to sharpen my opinion of the industry in general. Last week I tested a 2013 Mini Cooper S, and I’ve long since said that if I ever have to live in Manhattan and own a car, a Cooper S equipped in a certain way would be my choice vehicle.
I drove the John Cooper Works ragtop version of the lovable little hatchback a few weeks ago and liked it, but even though I love open air motoring, I couldn’t help but wish it were the hardtop. My first-generation (R50) Cooper hardtop was awesome, but lacked a sixth gear and any semblance of power. This 2013 Cooper S, though being a touch on the expensive side, is exactly how I would equip my ideal city car. Two sunroofs, six manually shiftable gears, and something the tech-geek in me really likes – the Wired Package.
The best part every Mini I’ve ever driven is the way they drive, and this Cooper S is my absolute favourite so far. The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine puts out 181-horsepower and corners like no other front-wheel-drive car out there. Driving a Mini isn’t a regular ride; it’s an experience like no other. When the “Sport” button behind the shifter is depressed, it improves throttle response, sharpens the car overall, and unleashes some very satisfying snaps, crackles, and pops from the center-mounted exhaust. The car both goes like stink and sounds mean.
My tester was equipped with the John Cooper Works package. At $2,900, the package gave it 17” wheels, an aerodynamics kit, bi-xenon headlamps, and a few other goodies. These are definitely my favourite wheels available on the Mini line, and for once, the factory tires are pretty grippy too! Along with the Wired Package I briefly touched on, my car came with the Premium Package. This added heated seats, the panoramic sunroof I adore so much, fog lights, and an armrest. On my old Mini, I spent a few bucks on eBay on an armrest because I was far too cheap to purchase the dealer accessory. It’s a necessity in this car.
Even the standard Cooper hatchback has so many different configurations that it’s rare to find two identically equipped vehicles. I love this little car; it oozes awesomeness in every which way. I drove this puppy like a bat out of hell on one stretch and still managed to get 7.8L/100km. Going easy on the throttle, I achieved as low as 6L/100km. One of the team members here at Double Clutch owns a supercharged R53 Cooper S. It’s a hoot to drive, but these turbocharged second-generation models are just so much more satisfying to drive!
I’ve mentioned before how much I love the interior setup across the Mini lineup. Most people despise the center stack-mounted window controls and fog light switches. I don’t mind them in the slightest; it differentiates the Mini from everything else on the market. Sure, it may take some getting used to, but it becomes second nature once you’ve spent a few hours with the car. I do however have an issue with the iPod interface. It’s not the easiest thing to browse through, and I had a hard time getting the Cooper S to remember the last song I was listening to, or that I like my playlists on “Random”.
With a starting price of $28,950, this 2013 Mini Cooper S is a compelling hot hatch. It enjoyed being driven at a fraction of its full potential more than the Ford Focus ST did, or the Volkswagen GTI. I may be a tad biased given that I fully have a soft spot for these cars, but that soft spot had developed long before I owned one. At just under fifty grand, I can’t see myself ever buying the John Cooper Works Convertible, but this Cooper S definitely has me won over. I’m a hot hatch guy at heart, and right now, this definitely my favourite one by a landslide.
2013 Mini Cooper S Gallery