Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 MINI Cooper Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 MINI Cooper Overview

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More Than Just a Little Fun

There is a lot of buzz about the MINI Cooper. The hot little British import now owned by BMW is being reintroduced to the U.S. market for the first time since leaving our shores some 20 years ago. What's so special about a tiny little hatchback with big bug eyes and a price tag starting at over $15K? Plenty! The MINI Cooper puts the fun back in to "fun to drive" and after your first test spin we're sure it will have you wearing an ear-to-ear grin in just under 7.0 seconds.

The original MINI Cooper (MINI is the company, Cooper is the actual name of the car though most people just refer to it as "the MINI") came to the U.S. in the early 1970s. It was even smaller than the current MINI, but its tiny size and long wheelbase made it a phenomenal handling car and it quickly gained a cult like following. Contrary to its outward appearance, the original MINI Cooper actually had a surprisingly roomy interior, a trait the modern MINI also shares.

The MINI Cooper is a blast to drive. Its 115-horsepower engine has no problem pulling the little car around and you can zip in and out of traffic with go-cart-like precision. The five-speed-manual transmission is fun to shift, but feels a bit rubbery, making quick, flick-of-the-wrist shifts a bit difficult. The S model, which includes larger wheels and a supercharged engine, gets a much nicer 6-speed manual that feels more in tune with the MINI Cooper's image. As good as it feels to accelerate in a MINI , it feels even better coming to a stop. The MINI Cooper is outfitted with large 11" front disc brakes (10" at the rear) that can stop the car on a dime. Run the MINI up a winding mountain road, and you'll understand the true joy of driving. The MINI obeys your every command with instantaneous response; no SUV ever tackled a mountain road like this! The more you drive the MINI Cooper, the more you begin to feel like one of the car's components, an integral part of the driving apparatus. It may sound like a bad Zen pun, but you really do become one with the car.

The new MINI Cooper offers more than just go-cart-like handling and attention grabbing good looks; it is a real value story in the making. The design alone is worth the price of the car, with its retro exterior styling and thoroughly funky interior that includes a center-mounted speedometer and flip-up toggle switches, just like they used in the 1960s. The MINI Cooper is also loaded with standard safety features including front side-impact airbags and a full-length head protection airbag for both front and rear-seat passengers. The MINI Cooper also has numerous crumple zones and a rigid passenger cell that helps protect the occupants in the event of a crash. Though tiny in size, the MINI is big on safety, a point that needs to be emphasized in a land where people sometimes falsely equate size with security.

The MINI Cooper's interior is nothing short of magic. How they fit all that legroom into such a tiny frame boggles the mind. Six footers will have no problem with either headroom or front seat legroom; rear seat passengers can sit comfortably, provided the front-seat occupants do not have the seat pushed all the way back. Storage behind the second row is pretty MINImal, but if you are not carrying additional passengers, you can fold the rear seats down and create a large storage zone (25 cubic feet). There are plenty of standard features to play with such as power windows, power door locks, a steering column mounted tachometer, tilt wheel, rear defroster, air conditioning and a 6-speaker CD audio unit.

The MINI's options list is loaded with cool and fun features you won't find on any other car in this price range. It has features like a full-length glass sunroof, a Harman Kardon sound system, on-board navigation and automatic climate control. And then there are the no-charge options, like the numerous paint patterns. You can order your MINI in one solid color or opt for the roof and side mirrors to be painted either black or white. For an additional fee, MINI will even paint a British Union Jack flag on the top of your car; very hip.

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