2012 MINI Cooper S Coupé

Two doors and two seats
The cabin of the Coupé is generously proportioned for a two-seat arrangement. I was surprised by the extent of both leg and headroom in the otherwise typical MINI interior. The absence of a rear seat creates a moderately sized cargo bay accessible beneath a liftback-style hatch. Although walled-off from the cabin, the cargo bay features a large pass-thru door to accommodate long items.

The most recent iteration of the MINI Cooper is also the most visually distinctive example of the retro-themed European.

Think of the MINI Coupé as the Audi TT of the MINI lineup but with significantly more headroom than the TT. While not looking as purpose-built, the MINI Coupé possesses many of the same attributes.

Despite its oddball looks, the MINI Coupé must be appreciated for its eye-catching lines and bold design, which grew on me over my week with this BMW derivative. While exterior styling is radical, it doesn’t cause confusion. The Coupé is clearly a MINI. The same holds true within the vehicle.

A panel behind the seats keeps items in the rear out of view through the rear glass.

Overall, the Coupé cabin exudes a sense of coolness that compensates for its awkwardness. While comfortable and generously apportioned, the cabin architecture, layout and switchgear are definitely less than ideal. 

Small buttons low on the centre-stack and elsewhere aren’t particularly convenient or intuitive in their functionality. Yes, with sufficient use they become less of an issue but the quirkiness can be annoying in the early stages of exposure.

Other cabin shortcomings include the absence of centre-console armrests and a shortage of storage bins. More concerning though is the marginalized visibility imposed by the low roofline, and the annoying rattle of the cargo shelf and other sources of interior clunkiness that reveal themselves when the Coupé hits rough patches in the road. 

Once these irritants are accounted for — or adequately tuned-out — the MINI Coupé’s spirited soul can be fully 

appreciated, and that experience begins beneath