2015 Mini Cooper Sport Pack
When BMW took over production of the Mini in the year 2000, it started churning out a long list of special editions and new conceptualizations of the iconic British compact. Over the years, there have been several Mini iterations, some with additional doors, some with no roof, and most with an increase in size and weight. However, no matter the model, they are all both sporty and nimble.
That tradition continues with the introduction of the Mini Sport Pack. Now, buyers of any three-door or five-door hatch are offered this optional equipment package, which comes with new exterior features, interior improvements, and suspension upgrades.
Mini says these new accessories can add up to 25 percent to residual resale value, which should entice buyers into more liberal use of the option list when considering the purchase of a new Mini Cooper.
But is it worth the extra outlay? Hit the jump to find out.
Click past the jump to read more about the Mini Cooper Sport Pack
2015 Mini Cooper Sport Pack
0-60 time:7.8 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:130 mph (Est.)
Taking cues from the old British Motor Corporation design, the Mini is a diminutive, fun vehicle, with a rounded nose, oval headlamps, simple lines and a large front grille.
The Sport Pack complements this with several new additions. First, racing stripes stretch back from the honeycomb grille, alongside the headlamps and across the hood to the windshield. These harken back to the original Mini, which competed in a variety of automotive sporting events in its time.
Furthering this look is a John Cooper Works rear roof spoiler, which adds a bit of flair. Rounding this out is a John Cooper Works body kit that enhances the ground effects.
Finally, 17-inch Track Spoke alloy wheels in either silver or black finish complete the exterior package.
Inside, there is space for four people, either with a 2+2 layout or an extra pair of doors on five-doors models. The Sport Pack adds new materials such as cloth/leather, diamond-patterned upholstery, piano black trim pieces, an anthracite headliner, and new floor mats.
A multi-function John Cooper Works steering wheel with cruise control capability meets the hands of the driver, while the passenger seat is now height adjustable to give taller folks more headroom. Updated interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control and air conditioning, rain sensing windshield wipers, automatic headlight activation, the extra storage compartment package, and Mini John Cooper Works door-sill finishers are all included.
The Sport Pack also includes Mini’s Excitement Pack, which features a sport instrument gauge cluster. There’s also the Driving Excitement function, which is an app that is compatible with the Radio Mini Visual Boost, Mini Navigation system, and the Mini Professional navigation system, all of which are optional equipment. Essentially, these provide displays of engine output and torque on the 6.5-inch or 8.8-inch multifunction display in the center instrument console. A Driving Excitement Analyzer assesses your driving prowess and awards points for performance, including a display of G-forces reached during spirited driving.
Finally, the interior is finished by Mini’s Driving Modes technology, which employs a rotary control on the gear selector to choose between three different drive settings: Sport, Mid and Green. Mid is the default setting, while Sport delivers enhanced response through a sharper throttle, quicker steering and stiffer dampers. If the vehicle is running an automatic transmission, shifts are quickened and at higher rpm. As expected, Green mode ups fuel economy by deadening the throttle response, lowering shift points, and adjusting the heating and air conditioning settings. These different modes are reflected on the on-board display to show extra available mileage and reductions in energy consumption.
The Mini has always been a front-engine, FWD vehicle, with the notable exception of the ALL4 AWD system on models like the Countryman. Engine choices include three-cylinder and four-cylinder options, both gasoline and diesel. Both a six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission are available.
The Sport Pack leaves the powerplant and transmission unaltered, and instead focuses on the handling. This includes a sports suspension with stiffer components, which help the Mini improve on the nippy handling characteristics its famous for. Unfortunately, the Sport Suspension package is not available on the Mini One and One D models.
Pricing for the optional Sport Pack comes to £3,300 when added to the purchase of a brand-new Mini Cooper S. That equates to roughly $5,086 at current exchange rates (2/19/15). For reference, a new Mini Cooper S starts at $25,100.
Fiat 500 Abarth
When it comes to fun, small cars, the Italians have the formula. In years past, we called the 500 Abarth a “mini Ferrari,” and that’s definitely still the case. Unlike most Minis, the 500 is actually, well, mini, with styling that’s fun and exciting. One look at this car is all you need to see that it simply exudes character.
Inside, you’ll find an updated instrument panel and switchable driving modes. A new 7-inch touchscreen allows for monitoring of pertinent vehicle information. This piece also acts as a display for the rear-view camera during parking assist. There’s also a USB media interface and Bluetooth connectivity.
Under the hood is a turbocharged, 1.4-liter MultiAir engine that delivers lively performance with 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This renders a 0-to-60 time under seven seconds, and a top speed of 129 mph. An available six-speed automatic transmission from Aisin comes with a Sport mode for spirited driving.
The Fiat 500 Abarth starts at just $22,395, making it a better value than the image-conscious Mini.
Ford Focus ST
The Focus ST was first launched in Europe a decade ago as the blue oval’s contender in the highly competitive hot-hatch market. The current model continues that tradition as one of the most iconic three-or five-door models on the planet.
The exterior is nicely sculpted, with standard HID headlamps, LED lighting, and optional 18-inch wheels. The interior comes with all kinds of performance goodies, like a gauge cluster that displays boost pressure, oil temperature, and oil pressure, as well as heavily bolstered Recaro sports seats. Partial leather upholstery is optional, and technology includes a USB interface and Ford SYNC with AppLink, Android and iOS connectivity, and a rear-view parking camera.
A turbocharged, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine makes the muscle, with 252 horsepower and 270 pound feet of torque routed exclusively through a six-speed manual transmission. 0-to-60 happens in 5.9 seconds, while top speed is a lofty 154 mph. Ford updated the suspension for the 2015 model year, with new front springs, revised shock absorbers, and updated power-assisted steering.
While quite a bit larger than both the Mini and Fiat, this Ford hatchback is every bit as fun, not to mention substantially faster. Pricing starts at $24,370.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Mini was all about squeezing as much performance as possible from the smallest package possible. Now, BMW seems content to plump the Mini up with iterations that continue break from that original philosophy. The Mini has become a fashion statement, a symbol of what’s trendy and hip. The old Mini was cool because it was tiny, but could fit a ton of stuff into the cabin despite its size, and quick, despite being incredibly underpowered. It did a lot with very little, and it was cool because it was what it was, nothing more, nothing less.
Now, the Mini is cool because it’s supposed to be cool. This idea is reflected in the Sport Pack. Sure, there’s new exterior flair and lots of new interior equipment. But the only true sportiness added is with the stiffer suspension. Instead of a readout of G-forces and extra storage, I’d much rather see added ponies and less weight.
But, like the car that the Mnini has become, it’s all about image. And while the Sport Pack adds plenty of gloss, I’m afraid it’s really only an inch thick.