BEHIND THE WHEEL: The 2018 Cooper always turning heads

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By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press

The Cooper has always been a standout and its one of the best choices in its class for a variety of reasons. Standing strong next to the competition like the Mazda CX-5 SUV, BMW X1 SUV, Volkswagen GTI or the Honda HR-V when behind the wheel of the Cooper you can be assured of turning at least a few heads.

2018 Cooper

Customers may have noticed there has not been a real design change on the Cooper since 2014 with a few changes here and there the last few years, but overall the 2018 Cooper still stands out and is still a fun ride. Even better, new this year Cooper lovers will find the Cooper S E plug-in hybrid for the eco-friendly minded driver and there have been a few changes to the high-performance John Cooper Works trim too.

Trim level options

The 2018 Cooper Countryman comes with four trim levels the Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and Cooper S E. All are impressive showings with the engine being the standout difference depending on the trim.

The Countryman offers 17-inch wheels, summer performance run-flat tires, automatic wipers, heated mirrors, a heated windshield wiper, roof rails with a panoramic sunroof, the keyless entry and ignition and 40/20/40-split rear seats. There is also the rearview camera, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery and inside ambient lighting. For technology you get the Bluetooth option as well as a 6.5-inch display screen and six speakers. If you go for the all-wheel drive version, you also get heated front seats.

The Cooper S has 18-inch wheels with LED headlights and fog lights, front sport seats and the six-speed manual is standard, but you can choose an all-wheel drive version or the eight-speed option.

The John Cooper Works trim offers added aerodynamic goodies including a rear spoiler, sport-tuned suspension and impressive bolstered front seats.

For the Cooper S E, this is the trim that will stand out most since it has an electric motor. Otherwise, except the same standard features found on the Mini Cooper S, but minus a sunroof. The Sport package option will give you 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and fog lights along with sport seats. There is a Cold Weather package with heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror or a Convenience package adding a rear armrest and cargo divider. The high-end Premium package is worth a mention adding power-adjustable front seats with 12 speakers and a hands-free power liftgate.

You can also add many JCW features to the other trim levels as well, for example the John Cooper Works Interior package that includes a standout steering wheel and black headliner or the JCW Exterior package with 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler and a variety of aerodynamic changes.

Under the hood

Under the hood of the 2018 base Cooper you get a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. There is an option of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. For the Cooper S there is the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 189 horsepower and 207-pound feet of torque with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The John Cooper Works has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and you can get it with a manual transmission. On the S E plug-in hybrid, the turbocharged three-cylinder engine works alongside an electric motor powered by a rechargeable 7.6 kWh battery pack with 12 miles of all-electric range.

Safety first

Safety features on the 2018 Mini Cooper Countryman include driver, passenger, front head, rear head and front side air bags as well as four-wheel ABS, four-wheel disc brakes, brake assist, electronic stability control, daytime running lights and traction control. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are also standard on all the models

Interior and exterior highlight

The interior of the Cooper is a pleasing experience with little wind noise once inside the cabin.

The seats are comfortable with the side bolsters being thick the better to keep you in place during your driving experience. If you opt for the non-sport seats this is only possible on the Cooper and S E trims. The plastic mold on the upper door panels is nicely done and the surface inside on the dash is smooth to the touch as is the cloth on the doors.

There is plenty of room inside the Countryman and take note of the folding rear headrests, which are quite convenient.

The knobs and dials are perfectly placed and easy to use and understand. There is an infotainment system with a controller and the door-mounted armrests are in an excellent position for comfort for the driver and passenger too.

As for headroom, there is plenty in the front seat and even in the back there are no complaints with plenty of room for legs and heads.

This vehicle is not the type in which hauling will be easy with just 17.6 cubic feet behind the rears seats or 47.6 cubic feet if the seats are folded. For small items to store around the vehicle there are cutouts in the doors that will hold a bottle and there is a space in front of the shifter as well as a bin under the armrest.

Along for the ride

While the 2018 Cooper is fun to drive it does not have the power like some of the competition. There are several driving modes including the “green” mode so depending on where you are going and how fast you need to get there you will eventually opt for the Sport mode if you want a less sluggish, get-there-fast kind of feel.

Behind the wheel you will feel a strong connect with the handling and the driving experience. With quick response you will again, find the sport mode to be the most pleasing option when it comes to overall driving.

The Mini Cooper driving experience is often a mindset and customers who enjoy the ride would think of no other option. For the undecided take the 2018 Cooper out for a spin so you can at least find out what all the fuss is about and perhaps become a convert.

Should you need to know

The big standout for 2018 is the fuel conserving Countryman S E plug-in hybrid.

Miles

The 2018 Cooper S E Countryman ALL 4 I drove came in with 65 MPGe for the electric and gas rating and 27 miles per gallon when using gas only.

Cost

The 2018 Cooper S E Countryman ALL 4 I drove had a price tag of $40,000.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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