More Mini, But Not Maxi: The 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 door
The 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door.
Four wheels and fun is a tough combination to beat.  What happens when you add four doors to that equation?  That's been a difficult issue for Mini, which added larger models (Clubman, Countryman) that haven't exactly burned up the sales charts and have even (or maybe especially) the faithful deriding them as big and ugly.  So for 2015, Mini tries a smaller big...stretching the Mini from two-doors to four without trying to make it a wagon, crossover or whatever.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop
2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door.
The faithful are divided on this one...but as a very occasional driver of Minis (our last seat time was nearly two years ago, in the 2013 Mini John Cooper Works Roadster), I love it.  The stretch to four doors adds livability (important in a household of four) and maintains the proportions of the recently-refreshed Mini design nicely.

Steering wheel detail of the 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door
2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door steering wheel detail.
Best of all, our tester was a Mini Cooper S, which brings with it the 2.0-liter TwinPower turbo four, with 189 horsepower (a 55 horsepower bump from the standard Mini Cooper's 3-cylinder turbo), which ratchets up the fun factor nicely.

A very reasonable base price of $25,100 gets you that engine and a six-speed Getrag manual with an EPA fuel economy estimate of 26 city/33 highway.  Also in the deal: Three driving modes (Sport, Mid and Green), dynamic stability control, dynamic cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tires, sport seats, dual-zone climate control, a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, USB and a six-speaker audio system including HD Radio.

It's the options that'll get you. Mini is a BMW brand, after all.  And they and Porsche have made nearly doubling the price of a car via options an art form.

Our tester was Electric Blue Metallic.  An extra cost color. $500.

The Cold Weather Package (power folding mirrors and heated front seats) is $600.

There's a package called Fully Loaded.  It's navigation and "enhanced" Bluetooth and USB connections.  And it's $4,500.  Longtime TireKicker readers will recall when nav systems were $2,000 and I would counsel against selecting that option, pointing out that "my phone does that'.  I've backed off since the price of nav has dropped and it's been largely folded in with other desirable features.  But $4,500?  If the Nav is $2,000 of that, it's overpriced and it still means there's $2,500 worth of "enhancements" to the Bluetooth and USB...which, unless the enhancement is their ability to confer immortality on the driver, is also overpriced.

An upgrade to 18-inch "Mini Yours Vanity Spoke Wheels" is $750.  But they look good.

LED headlights are another $250.  Okay. They'll likely last as long as the car.

Interior surface fiber alloy trim is $350.  It's a nice touch.

Our tester had the sport automatic transmission. Once an oxymoron, they've done a pretty good job of programming it so that you don't feel robbed of power or precision.  As automatics go, it's a nice box. It's also $1,500 and you'll have more fun shifting the standard six-speed manual yourself.  So I'd skip it and stick with the stick.

The JCW (John Cooper Works) leather steering wheel is $250. I like it.

Rear parking distance control is $500 and probably worth it (I'd hate to imagine what even a small fender bender would cost to repair at the local Mini body shop).

A heads-up display is another $500.  Now that they've moved the speedometer from the center of the dash to directly in front of the driver (the big round display in the middle is now a multi-function display for audio, HVAC and other things), you really don't need it.

With destination charge of $850, the bottom line for our tester hit $35,900. That's sobering.  But you can get this car back down on the sweet side of 30 grand fairly quickly.

There are only three no-extra-charge paint colors...Pepper White, Volcanic Orange and Chili Red...all three non-metallic.  I like the Electric Blue and a few of the other extra cost colors, so let's just leave that $500 in.

I can fold my own mirrors and rarely use a seat heater.  So lop $600 off.  Drop the Fully Loaded package and there's another $4,500 gone. Blow off the automatic and save an additional $1,500.  And ditch the heads-up display and that's another $500 saved.

How'd we do?  We just took $7,100 off the bottom line.  And at $28,800, this car is reasonable verging on a screaming deal (especially when considering the fun factor).  You'd be able to smile at the wheel and while writing the monthly payment check.