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Green Test Drive: MINI Cooper S

 Posted by on December 22, 2008
Dec 222008

By Clint Williams
Green Right Now

The MINI Cooper S proves fighting global warming can be fun.

This distinctive, diminutive cult car is fuel efficient, getting an EPA estimated 34 miles per gallon in highway driving.

But people considering a MINI Cooper – especially the turbocharged S edition – aren’t primarily interested in mpg. They’re more concerned with gpg – grins per gallon. The Cooper S offers plenty.

The turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine roars with 172 horsepower. Coupled with a clickity crisp six-speed stick shift, the tiny car is quick, quick, quick. The spec sheet says the 0-60 mph is 6.7 seconds, but it feels much faster because of the scale – just as 25 mph in a go-cart seems so much faster than the same speed in the family minivan.

Of course, quick is no fun if you’re sliding all over the place. The MINI Cooper is rock solid, the steering laser precise. It’s the sort of handling that gives life to clichés like “riding on rails.”

This is a sports car, even if the looks are too cute by half for some tastes. But the people who like the look are loyal. That is just one reason the MINI Cooper was recently a winner in the Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Awards.

But with any cult, there are quirks that may turn off some drivers. The controls aren’t intuitive. For example, the switches for the door locks and power windows are at the bottom of the center instrument panel. As with any car made by BMW, expect to spend some time studying the owner’s manual.

And while there is a back seat, don’t expect to put adults back there. None any that you like, anyway.

The starting sticker price is $21,200 and it’s easy to pile on the options. The test car, which featured satellite radio with a lifetime subscription, was $27,850.

See more high mileage cars in our 30 Over 30 story.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media