The F56 New Original MINI – My First Impressions

A 3 cylinder, twin-turbo engine. Really? How is this “sub-sized-under-the-bonnet-filler” supposed to get me to where I need to be? Never mind the “Dullard Gold-Fish Face” or the Simpon’s like overbite, what I need from my MINI is to feel like I’m driving a machine with maximum efficiency and maximum “getup and go” without having to resort to “becuz race car” mods. How am I supposed to do that with 3 cylinders? The simple is answer to that question is: EASILY. I test drove a base model 2014 F56 (The New Original MINI) courtesy of MINI of El Paso. I came away from that test drive nothing short of amazed and impressed.

A few Specs:

  • 2014 Cooper Hardtop (Base Model)
  • 1.5 Liter – 3-Cylinder Engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology
  • 6-Speed Automatic Transmission

Historically, an automatic non-S MINI Cooper has not been the most ideal or fun MINI to drive. It lacked the get up and go you needed to get out of your own way. It didn’t hit its stride until the RPM’s were screaming so loud you thought a cylinder might rocket through the bonnet top. But not the New Original. This 3-cylinder power plant has more than enough get up and go to be a formidable commuter and then some.

I drove The New Original with a person in the passengers seat and the ac running at its coldest setting and at moderately high fan speed. This scenario with another occupant and the AC running would turn the old non-S into a little pig starved for power and with no place to go. But not for the F56. No sir, you can feel the torque in this one. It pulls forward with the anxiousness of a pit bull pup learning to walk on a leash. With an Immediate throttle response, the F56 throws you back in your seat and zips down the road, EFFORTLESSLY! And all with 3 cylinders.

The New Original has 3 drive settings that are accessible to the driver by the flicking a switch near the shift stick. The settings are “Mid” for regular driving, “Eco/Green” for tree hugging and the familiar “Sport” with all the features of the old “Sport” button and then some. My test drive was a mix of “Mid” and “Sport” with noticeable performance differences in each setting. The standard “Mid” setting is the default and performance was more than adequate at this drive position. The “Sport” setting is the “Fun” setting. This is where most of the torque and pull was noticed and the car didn’t feel stressed and I didn’t feel like I was pushing the “Just-a-Cooper” too much. In fact, it felt “under-tuned” and it seems that more performance will be found in the aftermarket if you chose the “becuz race car” route with it.

I only had a very short time in the New Original, but I’m anxious to try a out the “S” and “Just-A” with Manual Transmissions.

Other observations- The GOOD

  • Interior-Extremely refined and upgraded.
  • Lots of relocation of the controls you were used to, but the placement makes more sense now.
  • No start button and no place for the key fob to insert.
  • Start Button is now a huge red toggle switch and all the cars I saw were keyless start.
  • The Speedometer is now in a more traditional position. (That wasn’t hard to get used to at all)
  • The old location of the speedometer is now replaced but the center “tech console” and light ring.
  • The light ring reacts and changes color when adjustments are made to the ac, volume, drive mode, and more.
  • The AC felt like it could handle our El Paso summers better than in the previous generation.
  • The stereo was the base model and not the upgraded Harmon Kardon, but it sounded very full with lots of bass on the heavy beat type songs. (Definitely better than the old base model)
  • Seats felt better and the materials were upgraded.
  • More room. (the New Original is bigger than the R56 it replaces) Its still a MINI though.
  • 41 MPG on the highway

Other observations – The “Meh”

  • New front “Pedestrian Friendly” nose has the Simpsons overbite /Ford Focus shape happening. Its more pronounced on the Volcanic Orange and not as noticeable on the Blazing Red.
  • Taillights are bulgy and zit like. They stick out begging to be “popped”.
  • The Upgraded headlamps have an LED ring around the edge. The base model lamps look more traditional and reduce the “stunned goldfish face” quite a bit.
  • More room (the New Original is bigger than the R56 it replaces) Its still a MINI its just not as mini.

April is the official launch month of the “New Bloody Original” and there will be launch events happening at MINI dealerships across the country. We’ll get some more time behind the wheel and post more impressions as time allows!