Eric's Autos / Automotive

Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2012 Mini Coupe JCW

Who doesn't like the original Mini? It's cute, but not girly. Sporty - but not overbearingly macho. A six foot man can drive it - and not look (or feel) silly driving it. So can his five-foot-five daughter. Or her 65-year-old grandmother.

The Mini is also inexpensive - around $19k to start, which is cheap for a new car. And it's very fuel efficient: Almost 40 MPG on the highway. It has a pleasantly spacious - even practical - interior for such a small-on-the-outside car. It is easy to drive, fun to drive - and affordable to drive.

In a very real sense, the modern Mini is more like the old VW Beetle than anything else on the road ( including the New Beetle - which is too big, too thirsty, too expensive and probably too sporty, too.)

Well, what about this new two-seater Mini coupe? Has it got the Mini mojo, too?

WHAT IT IS

The Mini coupe is a two-seat version of the regular Mini - the nomenclature being a tad confusing since both cars have two doors for passengers and a hatch in the back for accessing the cargo area. So technically speaking, they're both hatchback coupes.

The coupe differs from the regular Mini from the tops of the doors up. It has a steeply raked windshield and its roof sits about an inch lower than the regular Mini's. It also has unique bits such as a Porsche-like rear airfoil that deploys automatically at 50 MPH.

Like the regular Mini, the coupe is available as a hardtop or convertible and in standard, turbocharged S or even-more-turbocharged John Cooper Works (JCW) versions. Base price for the hardtop coupe is $21,300. A JCW coupe lists for $31,200. The convertible starts at $24,530 and tops out at a $34,500 for the JCW version.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2012

The two-seater version of the Mini is all-new.

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