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2015 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Hardtop

2015 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Hardtop
(Photo: Photo courtesy of

Summers were made for road trips. If you’d like to try a weekend journey a bit off the beaten path, you might consider a drive to Lime Rock Park, an iconic 1.5-mile racetrack located in Connecticut’s Litchfield County.

We test drove the 2015 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Hardtop to Lime Rock Park to watch a car race — fitting since Mini Cooper was first created as a racing vehicle in 1946. Here are a few of the features we noticed during our trip. FYI, the “John Cooper Works” designation on any Mini Cooper represents speed. Named after John Cooper, the co-founder of Mini Cooper who was also a racecar driver, any “John Cooper Works” Mini Cooper can move. Fast.

Of course, you already know that the Mini is a small car but those of you who haven’t driven one may be surprised to learn that this tiny car is anything but fragile. Mini is part of the BMW Group, so factor in the notorious German attention to detail when thinking about how sturdy the Mini is. Not only is it solid, it also has a low center of gravity making it virtually immune to strong winds that can push other cars around.

Speaking of being low to the ground, unfortunately the Mini registers every, single bump on the road. On smooth roads the mini zipped along nicely, but its low suspension was painful on rougher surfaces. There is an option to switch from “green” to “normal” to “sport” mode, but none of these settings help buffer the bumpiness.

This Mini also offers start/stop technology. The engine turns itself off when the car comes to complete stop which, in theory, should render a better than normal miles per gallon.

Once seldom seen, the Heads Up Display (HUD) is now showing up in more vehicles. You can’t beat the convenience of having pertinent information displayed in your line of sight. The Mini’s HUD is extra fun because the info is projected onto a tiny screen that pops out of the dashboard behind the steering wheel.

Also unique is the huge, circular command hub in the middle of the dashboard. This display hub is ringed with lights that change color and intensity based on your activity. For example, a few blocks before your next navigation turn, the lights will turn white and gradually tick down as you get closer to your turn.

In terms of storage space, not only does the Mini have a second secret glove box in the dashboard, it also has high tech storage, like an internal hard drive that stores your favorite songs and voice memos that you can record while driving. There’s also plenty of legroom in the front but I wouldn’t want to sit in the backseat for long.

Buyable ranking: 7. All in all, the Mini Cooper wins for originality and fun factor but if you’re planning to do lots of city driving, you should expect a bumpy ride.

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