The 2022 MINI Cooper S 5-door is the evolution of a 60+ years old icon in the automotive industry. It blends emblematic cherished features, like the styling and impressive use of interior space, with the latest tech, such as adaptive cruise control and Apple Carplay. But is the new technology going to be enough to keep one of the smallest cars on the road relevant and popular?
The 2022 MINI Cooper is more of an update than a complete model overhaul starting with the design. The designers kept the round headlamps that are a MINI trademark. They have integrated the flashers to switch colours from white to yellow to indicate which side you are turning. The innovation didn't stop there; you have the magnificent Union Jack, a wink to its British heritage. They have kept the model fresh, and we're okay with that since the previous model was genuinely magnificent, so these changes are a winning formula!
Inside the Cooper S, evolution is the name of the game. If you've been in one recently, you will not be lost entirely about the position of all the buttons and switches. First of all, MINI finally has a heated steering wheel available. It was a missing option, especially in the last couple of years when almost everybody had them except for this British company. But this has been corrected, and we couldn't be happier. It also means a bigger steering wheel that feels good to grip if you take your vehicle on a fun weekend trip. Combine this with the new paddle shifters mounted on the steered wheel, and it now feels truly like a fun car. The 5.5-inch digital instrument display that displays basic information such as your speed and fuel level is a little less convincing. We feel the options to customize the digital cluster are too few and therefore don't feel like an improvement over the previous gauges that we found had more flair and more of the MINI personality. For example, the arrows will only show up on the heads-up display when you enter a destination in the internal GPS. A missed opportunity, in our opinion, and we hope MINI will add some enhancements in the future.
The 8.8-inch Touchscreen Display has been retooled to look crisper and to respond faster. Unfortunately, it is now surrounded by piano black plastic, which may look nicer; however, it is a fingerprint magnet and may not age. What we are baffled about is that there is still no Android Auto at all. In 2022, this is unacceptable for a new vehicle when everybody offers it, at least when the phone is connected. On the upside, Apple Carplay now takes all the screen rather than just half as in previous models.
As you can see, there is still room to grow. Otherwise, the cabin's layout is good, and the climate controls are straightforward to reach and understand. The gear lever is this long bar that, like the digital cluster, isn't that much improvement compared to the older lever. Granted, you won't use it as much with the addition of paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but the old one felt so satisfying when shifting the automatic manually.
Interior space is quite decent in the 2022 MINI Cooper S. The 5-doors variant is only 155 mm (6-inch) longer, but it feels longer. The front seats can accommodate tall drivers and passengers while leaving some legroom for people sitting in the back. Let's be clear, though, this is no minivan meaning there isn't an abundance of space, but there is space for four adults to sit in this vehicle and put some luggage in the trunk. You can bring this car to Costco without a problem. Another added benefit of the MINI 5-doors is that easy access to the back seats means easy for kids to climb in and out and install child seats with the ISOFIX ports that are simple to reach. A stroller can fit in the trunk, but don't try combining groceries as it won't. Speaking about kids, we wouldn't recommend choosing white seats like our test vehicle if you have children because they will get dirty quite quickly. Overall, this subcompact car can be a family vehicle.
Moving on to the performance part of the review, and boy are we impressed by the MINI Cooper S! The small hatchback is powered by a 4-cylinder turbo engine that develops 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, the engine is coupled to a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission. You can get the third pedal for no extra cost. We've liked this engine in the past, inside the 5-door variant of the MINI Cooper; it's a fantastic marriage. We feel that the power delivery has improved for 2022; the power is delivered instantly, throttle management has dramatically improved, especially in Sport mode. Speaking about the driving modes, you can switch between Green, Mid, and Sport from a switch found under the climate controls, and there are two personalities between them. In the first two, it is pleasant and comfortable to maneuver in the city and the highway. In Sport mode, the small bloc will deliver the power almost on the spot, and you can easily pass without hassle. The vehicle becomes even more lively and practically begs you to go at illegal speeds. Whatever drive mode you choose, the steering is precise but also a bit heavy; it may take a little bit of time to get used to it. The only downside would be the stiffness of the suspension; it may become more of a nuisance in certain North American cities where the quality of the roads is questionable. It helps around tight corners on the track or even on twisty roads during fun weekend rides; however, it can become bothersome during regular commutes.
Fuel consumption was pretty good for a gas engine; you can easily achieve between 5-5,5L/100km on the highway at the posted speed, even better than MINI's official figure. In the city, you can expect around 9L/100km, which is pretty darn close to the 8,9L/100km announced. Our combined average was about 7,7L/100km, which is lower than the reported figure, so it perfectly plays its role as a fun and practical vehicle.
The MINI Cooper S 5-door is a vehicle destined for a buyer looking for an enjoyable drive every day. Whatever road you use, it will be a fun ride inside the small hatchback. A legendary design modernized makes the Cooper S a must in your shopping list. At $43,360, it may seem like a lot of money, but you have to drive it to understand why this car manufacturer still has a place to shine in today's landscape of mostly SUVs on the road.