The MINI Cooper Coupe: a MINI with a nice hat

Judging from the comments I’ve seen on Autoblog, Jalopnik, and The Truth About Cars I’m one of about five people on the entire Internet that actually likes how the MINI Coupe looks. The biggest complaint is that it’s just flat out ugly. Jalopnik goes so far as to say that it’s the “most frat-boy looking car we’ve ever seen.”

Really?

Jalopnik’s complaint is that the spoiler attached to the roof looks like a cap turned backwards, which it looks frat-ish. He’s not the only one to say this. Commenters on all three sites voiced similar complaints.

Well, congratulations to everyone who made that rousing discovery. Back when this was first introduced as a concept back in 2009 at Frankfurt, the designer said that the spoiler was indeed based on a hat turned backwards. If you didn’t call it fratty back then, Internet denizens, why say it now?

Besides, it takes a second glance to realize that it does look like a backwards hat, but that’s not enough to damn this thing to the lowest pit of car hell or call it hideous. The spoiler is just a piece of extra clutter that designates a car as “sporty.” It’s gingerbread.

Overall, the MINI Cooper Coupe is tight little design. The wheels don’t have massive arches and there aren’t any deep side creases or ridiculous side scoops. It’s just a MINI with the hatch removed, and that’s fine because it makes it look as though it’s hunkering down to the ground and ready to attack the road. I like that.

But, and this is hardly a surprise, the general enthusiast community doesn’t like that. They (I have to use the amorphous “they” since the Internet is anonymous) keep screeching that it’s worthless because it can’t carry anything. With the hatch and both rear seats gone, this isn’t a practical vehicle on any level. 

And they’re right. It is less practical.

But who cares? 

The Cooper Coupe is a style vehicle. It’s there to look cool and to tempt people who want something new that’s stylish and fun to drive. People who buy this car probably don’t care about practicality because it’s either a second vehicle or they have a friend with a truck. 

Besides, the MINI hatchback is hardly an all-purpose vehicle. Its rear seats are damn near useless unless the extra one or two passengers have figured out a way to remove their legs at the knee without making a mess. While it’s possible to fit more in the hatchback, especially with those rear seats down, people work around the hauling issue all the time. A standard four-door sedan isn’t much better at moving large objects.

In a last attack on the Cooper Coupe, critics yell about how it’s completely pointless in Mini’s lineup. It’s not lighter than the hatchback—in fact it weighs 44lbs more—so there’s no way that it’ll drive any differently. It’s not any smaller, so it doesn’t go back to MINI’s smaller roots from the 1950s. So why, they wonder, does this exist.

Simple, this is keeping the MINI fresh. BMW is going to overhaul the brand with a smaller offering and completely new models starting around 2014, when a line of BMW fwd cars share platforms with the new MINIs. Until then BMW needs to keep people interested in the MINI that we have now.

That’s why we get a coupe and two-seat convertible based on a modified hatchback, it’s cheaper than releasing a heavily redesigned model that would get replaced in two or three years. The redesigned hatchback that we have now is getting a little long in the tooth, so these two new models will help keep it fresh enough until 2014.

When that comes we’ll see some smaller MINIs that will be in line with the brands roots based on the Rocketman concept. 

I look forward to seeing the production version of this, which probably won’t have the fancily hinged doors, and most certainly won’t have the basket handle taillights sticking out of the rear fender. But it will probably be that small.

Until then, I will content myself with the MINI Cooper Coupe. In a few years, when I actually have money, I’ll look for one on the used car market—with a stick shift of course. 

I can get away with buying one. There’s a ’94 Ford F-150 in my front yard.

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