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QUALITY | 6 out of 10
The silly heater thumbwheels have been replaced by rocker switches. Seat adjusters are unassisted but that's consistent with the lean and mean Mini theme.
Style-conscious buyers are likely to love the refreshed Mini's key, which must be pressed into a slot in the dash before pushing the 'Start' button, but we wonder why it's not using a simple proximity sensor instead.
Despite the Mini Cooper's small size, the front seats are surprisingly spacious. There is no shortage of headroom or legroom and the cabin feels extraordinarily airy.
The convertible's soft-top opens partially like a sunroof, or it can open fully as a conventional convertible top would. There's also a standard Openometer that tracks how much time you've driven with the top down.
The audio controls have been consolidated under the large center speedometer, and all secondary controls are now finished in matte black rather than silver, as are the steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls.
Car and Driver
True to its name, the MINI Cooper models, as well as the related MINI Coupe and MINI Roadster, are small. Despite that, they make the most of their interior space, at least for those in front.
No matter which model you choose, there's enough space for even tall drivers in front, with plenty of legroom. Coupe and Roadster models do give up some headroom in the name of a different roofline, but they're still adequate unless you're well over six feet tall. The back seats are marginally useful at best, however.
Materials in the MINI Cooper range are generally good, and can be upgraded to near-luxury levels, but fit and finish occasionally leave a bit to be desired, with squeaks and rattles becoming prominent even during the first year of ownership. Likewise, wind and road noise are above the norm.
We continue to find ergonomics puzzling in the Cooper and Coupe lineups, and they're clearly cases of fashion over function. Some common-use items are located out of reach, or in odd locations; seat adjusters are on the inboard sides, for instance, and infotainment controls are placed low on the center tunnel. But once you're used to it, these models are quite functional.
MINI Cooper models are as useful as you might expect for a small, three-door hatchback. Cargo space is fair in the hatch, at 23.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Coupe models have no rear seat, but they have a small cargo shelf just behind occupants' heads, as well as a small trunk good for 9.8 cubic feet of gear--that's barely enough space for a couple of carry-ons. MINI Clubman models offer a higher-utility package, on the other hand, with four usable seats and a unique dual-door, center-opening hatch arrangement that's hinged at the sides.
Across the model line, the MINI Cooper, Coupe, and Clubman models aren't particularly soft-riding or all that well-isolated from road noise. The ride quality in the Cooper S is hurt somewhat by its standard run-flat tires, while the John Cooper Works model is a bit rougher still.
The 2013 Cooper models may charm, but they don't have a backseat that's up for adult duty; ride comfort isn't great; and Coupes and Roadsters have precious little cargo space.