Friday, April 27, 2012

Dan Lyons Reviews The 2012 Coupe For Times Union

Dan Lyons, a columnist for the Albany Times Union, at timesunion.com, reviews the 2012 MINI Coupe.  Lyons says, in conclusion:
My test car was a Works edition, and so equipped, the Coupe is a top notch go-kart. MINI claims a top speed of 149 mph for the JCW, and a 0-60 mph best of 6.1 seconds. Acceleration is, then, quite strong, and torque steer is a definite possibility when you lay into the throttle. The engine's power band is impressively wide. Max torque arrives at 1,850 rpm and holds through 5,600 rpm, so the engine is highly responsive over a very wide rpm range. The six-speed stick has a short, straight stroke, keeping the engine on the boil and adding to the car's fun factor. The car posts fine fuel economy, given its performance potential. EPA rates the JCW Coupe at 25 city, 33 highway.

With the optional sport suspension on the JCW, you have the stiffest of all MINI's. Ride quality is firm, and while I didn't find this objectionable for daily driving, this wouldn't be my first choice for a long trip. Standard Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control (standard on JCW, optional elsewhere) help keep the Coupe pointed in the right direction. DSC can be switched off, for those taking their Coupe to the track. Handling is arguably more impressive than the driveline, since you can exercise the JCW's curve carving more readily than you can its, uh, arresting acceleration. And that's the key to the JCW. Unless you have access to a race track or perhaps plan an autocross for your back yard (fair warning: most municipalities — and neighbors — frown on this sort of thing), you really can't scratch the car's itch.

I know that's true of many performance cars, but most of them are content to cruise the highways, while this one seems to whisper troublemaking thoughts in your ear. For that reason — and price (this loaded test car stickered for a stout, $38 Large) — the downrange Coupe models (base, S) make the most sense for most people. While you'll clearly get less performance, you reach a better balance of price vs. usable fun.

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