New Mini Cooper adds updated features, keeps distinctive look

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The 2015 model year Mini Cooper boasts several updated features, but the iconic British classic did not lose its distinctive characteristics.

The latest Mini Cooper boasts several updated features, but the iconic British classic did not lose its distinctive characteristics.

When the Mini Cooper made a big return to the roads back in 2002, it definitely stood out. It had a funky blend of old and new, and you would never mistake a modern Mini for anything else.

There was actually a redesign a few years later, but hardly anyone noticed since it looked pretty much identical to the previous one.

Now, Mini has undergone another redesign for the 2015 model year, and the challenge was even greater - make the car look updated but make it still look like a Mini.

The newest Mini is less mini than before in the literal sense with a slightly larger overall size. But the Mini elements are all there - the distinctive shape of the headlights, taillights, grill and even the windows and roof.

Under the hood, though, newer means smaller. The base Mini has a 1500 cc engine with just three cylinders. A turbo helps with power, which has increased, as has fuel efficiency. A bonus - three cylinders make a really cool sound.

People seemed to either love or hate the reborn Mini's dash layout over the past dozen years. In this new version, the speedometer moves from the center of the dash to the driver's side. But that big circle in the middle remains and holds other controls.

One change that's sure to be welcomed by many - the large conventional radio knobs.

And as with many cars, you can change engine modes for either more economical or more sporty operation. But leave it to Mini to use its own cutesy names for the modes.

Even though there are now multiple Mini models, the original hardtop body style is still the one everyone seems to identify with the most.

Plus, it's still easy to identify it on the road even after a major redesign.


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