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Is the Mini Cooper Carbon Edition a new Featherweight Contender?

Published November 19, 2015

 

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The Mini Cooper 4 Door has been a polarizing figure in the famously diminutive car maker’s lineup ever since it was announced. Fans of Mini have voiced their opinions pretty openly in regards to the ever-increasing proportions of their cars over the last few years. It’s true, the base Cooper has grown a little with every iteration, and the Countryman towers over the classic Mini in the same way that a bulldozer towers over a bicycle.

But really, how bad is this from a practical standpoint? For anyone with children or a dog larger than a breadbox, the Countryman is infinitely more useful than the 2 door Cooper. So it follows that adding that same practicality to the Cooper will offer customers a sort of middle ground for those wanting the fun of a fast little car and the real-world usefulness of a 5 door wagon. Reasonable enough. Which brings us to the Carbon Edition.

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The numbers aren’t bad; 208 horsepower courtesy of a tuning from John Cooper Works and a sophisticated exhaust system that is designed to deliver a mean soundtrack. There’s also some black wheels and decals that include the word Carbon scrolled across the doors. Which brings me to this special edition Mini’s namesake; carbon fiber, the light, rigid material that supercars are made of. The Carbon Edition includes carbon fiber mirror caps, exhaust tips, and air intake trim. There’s also a sporty steering wheel made only for the special edition. Not exactly a ton of weight savings when you consider that the Carbon Edition also comes with heated seats, a premium sound system, and a sunroof.

The extra power is a nice touch, but why not give it the same numbers of the John Cooper Works Cooper S? That one has 228 Horsepower, 20 more than the Carbon Edition. The starting price for this Mini is $37,100 and you can add $1,500 to that if you want the faster (but less fun) automatic transmission.

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So, is the Carbon Edition worth it? Despite the initial sticker shock, the price does make a bit of sense. It’s basically a full-loaded Cooper 4 Door that gets special paint and trim. Add to that the fancy exhaust and the tuning, and the price starts to look more reasonable. Still, the price does put the Mini in a higher weight class power-wise than the little guy can handle. A Subaru WRX STI is over $1,500 less than the Carbon Edition and offers over 300 horsepower. The regular Cooper S 4 Door gives the practical fun folks awesome bang for their buck, offering 189 horsepower for just over 25 grand. The John Cooper Works Cooper S starts at $30,600 and comes with more horsepower paired with lower weight figures and a stiffer chassis with only 2 doors.

The Carbon Edition is a fun special edition Mini that is made for those who love the Cooper 4 Door and want the coolest one money can buy for 2016. The 208 horses will feel like many more in such a compact car, and the exhaust will make every stoplight just a little bit less bitter. Despite the drawbacks, this car knows how to have fun. Maybe it’s not a practical choice for the average consumer, but it reassures us that Mini will always go the extra mile to make their customers smile every time they put their key in the ignition.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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