edmund's INSIDE LINE contributor Andrew Frankel got some seat time in the 2012 MINi Coupe JCW and provides his impressions after his first drive. He calls it a "tough sell:"
But none of these things explains why the 2012 Mini Coupe disappoints. It's not about what it does, right or wrong. It's about what it does not do, namely provide you with a single serious reason to choose one over the standard hatchback. For all Mini's posturing about it being a sports car and however much Nomex its boss chooses to wear, the Coupe offers no more real-world performance over the standard hatchback, nor is it notably better to drive.
Then there's the fact that the hatch is cheaper and more practical. You can turn the hatch into a two-seater with more than double the trunk capacity of the Coupe by simply folding the rear seats. And you can get four people in one should the need arise. Not going to happen with the Coupe.
Even so, don't escape with the idea that Mini has produced a bad car, as it's still fast, fun and well finished. But Mini has missed a trick with it. If it had paid even half as much attention to the way the Coupe drives as it has to the way it looks, its claim to have built the brand's first proper sports car could have been credible.
It wouldn't have taken a complete reengineering, just some detail tuning: a little more power that the chassis could take with ease, a thoughtful retune of the suspension, a shorter final drive — that sort of thing. Then it could have been as good, or even better to drive than it looks. As it stands, however, there is one reason only to choose it over a Mini hatchback, and it has nothing to do with driving.