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STYLING | 10 out of 10
Front and rear bumper fascias, a new grille texture, minor lamp alterations, and a whole new line of wheels will keep Mini watchers' heads spinning.
The design of the second-generation convertible looks enough like the first that there is little difference to casual observers. The most noticeable difference is the roll bar, which used to stick up behind the backseat head restraints.
One of our main gripes of previous Minis was the oddly placed stereo control knobs. Fortunately, that has been rectified for 2011 with a slightly more conventional layout.
As always, Mini encourages customization of each car, and is now offering three “design worlds” to serve as inspiration. Dubbed Rally, Classic, and Scene, each is a family of suggestions for body and roof colors, wheel designs, and interior elements hand-selected by designers as a stylish jumping-off point for tweaking your Mini.
Car and Driver
Traditional Mini design cues are still there - most notable among them the contrasting colors for the roof and side mirrors, the round headlights and the black wheel flares.
Kelley Blue Book
This year's updates bring subtle changes to available interior color options and the entry-level 15-inch wheels on the 2012 MINI Cooper, but otherwise carry forward the previous model's modern-classic styling.
The characteristic MINI proportions, with a short nose, flat roof, and retro-referential design elements are all still to be found on the exterior, while inside, the new color options spruce up the quirky, occasionally funky interior design.
New color choices include cross-check cloth/leather in Polar Beige, plus Satellite Gray Lounge Leather and Carbon Black cloth/leather. The new wheels on the base models features seven holes, replacing the five-star "Spooler" wheel of last year.
Highlights of the carryover styling elements include functional brake ducts on Cooper S models, more styling differentiation between trim lines, and, inside, more black trim and less chrome.
As always, the MINI is continues to be one of the most customizable mainstream vehicles available, with a huge array of color combinations, interior choices, and graphics packages for order, enhanced for 2012 by the introduction of the MINI Yours customization program, which offers a new two-tone leather dash and steering wheel, custom alloy wheels, special mirror caps, and unique upholstery patterns.
The 2012 MINI Cooper's style is unique, with just the right mix of modern and retro, though it may be too cute for some.