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2004 Mini Cooper S Review

The Biggest Little Car

A side view of a white 2004 Mini Cooper S

In short: A totally cool and modern classic city car.

The legendary Mini lives on. It is a very cool city car and more fun to drive than ever. BMW, which now owns the mark, has piped in some significant energy and reliability. A few versions are available including a convertible. In fact, with the total glass roof like the one on our test vehicle, one could get a bit too much light in the summertime. We didn’t like the amount of protuberant plastic adorning the interior. Perhaps future models will become more refined.

Since its launch in the Yaletown area of Vancouver, B.C., for its North American debut, the British-made automobile (with an engine from Brazil and a German transmission) has strived to be hip. You may recall the creative ad campaigns and the movie placement in "The Italian Job."

A three-quarter rear view of a 2004 Mini Cooper S A three-quarter front view of a 2004 Mini Cooper S

With limited space for parking in European cities, the Mini was always the chic car of choice. However, the newest version can play the role of a “real car,” and it is very pleasant to drive. It has evolved quite a bit from the glorified go-cart it used to be. The German transmission manufacturer has played the right cards, and you would be hard-pressed not to fall in love almost instantly.

A front interior view of a 2004 Mini Cooper S

Bringing things into the 21st Century, electronics abound, from the electro-hydraulic engine speed-sensitive power steering to run-flat tires. Of course, who could forget the “smart” dual-threshold, dual-stage deployment SRS system via the engine immobilizer with coded driveaway protection? Despite the fact that our cool white Cooper S with leather seats, 17 inch wheels, xenon headlights, premium interior and Harman-Kardon sound system culminated at $25,000, one can get into a “whiptastic” handling fun version for well below $20,000.

Read a review of the 2009 Mini Cooper Hardtop

Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile full maintenance program; 4-year/50,000-mile warranty; 6-year rust perforation warranty; 4-year/50,000-mile Mini roadside assistance program.

Base Price: $16,449 / As tested: $25,199

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, front-wheel drive, 4-passenger, 3-door hatchback

Engine: 1.6-liter supercharged inline-4
Horsepower: 163 bhp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 155 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual

Curb weight: 2,678 lbs
Wheelbase: 97.1 in
143.9/66.5/56.2 in
Turning circle: 35.0 ft

Brakes: 4-wheel disc with ABS

Suspension: independent front and rear
traction control; optional vehicle stability control
Safety: front airbags; front side airbags; side curtain airbags

0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
Top Speed: 135 mph

EPA City: 25 mpg
EPA Highway: 34 mpg

Check out other Mini models
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Photography: Walter Mladina

(Updated: 06/04/09 SV)

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