Amanda Salas: The Mini Coupe is built on an adapted version of the convertible's chassis.
Craig: The headlights and front bumper are a tad more aggressive than the Convertible's, but the big differences are this cool roofline and this self-deploying spoiler on the rear hatch.
Amanda: The new Coupe is offered in the base Cooper, Cooper S and the John Cooper Works models. And with Mini's legendary options and accessories list, you have a choice of 10 million personally customized setups.
Craig: That's nice to know, because jumping into the deep end with a two-seat sports car puts the Mini Coupe right in the cross hairs of rivals like the Honda CR-Z with its hybrid powertrain and the FIAT 500 Abarth with its tiny but functional rear seats.
Well, there's definitely plenty of space here to sit two adults comfortably. Basically it's the same front seat dimension that you would find in the Mini Cooper Convertible.
Amanda: There's optional leather seats, a multifunction steering wheel and soft touch materials on the dash that give the Mini an edge over other subcompacts.
Craig: Plus the oversized speedometer and unique switches have that same slightly retro look and feel that the Mini enthusiasts love so much.
Amanda: I like the head-up dash layout. And these optional height-adjustable sport seats work great with the optional electronically adjustable mirrors.
Craig: Go for a model equipped with the Mini Connected system, and you can access the Internet with an iPhone app that lets the user pull up RSS feeds as well as Facebook and Twitter.
Amanda: And everything you're doing can be displayed on the high-def monitor in the center of the speedometer?
Craig: ...or read aloud via the stereo.
So Mini claims this baby is not only the smallest Mini ever, but also the fastest. With that said, you know what's coming next!
Amanda: And for folks with a foot much lighter than yours, the base Cooper gets a 121- horsepower 1.6-liter inline-4-cylinder engine. The Cooper S adds a turbocharger, to make 181 horsepower, and the John Cooper Works turbo version ups the ante to 208 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission mated to the front wheels is standard across the line, and there's an optional six-speed automatic offered with the base and S models.
Craig: Look, there's no denying that this Coupe is a blast to drive! But the big question, Amanda, is,will the extra punch ruin my mood at the gas pump?
Amanda: And your answer, Craig, is: no way. Because the base model gets 29 miles per gallon city and 37 highway. The S gets 27 city and 35 highway. The John Cooper Works with all the muscle drops off to 25 city and a respectable 33 highway.
Craig: With the base Cooper Coupe, that's pretty darn close to the Honda CR-Z Hybrid and better than the FIAT Abarth.
Like all Minis, the Coupe is priced to sell. The base model starts at $21,300. A mid-range S model, at $24,600. The John Cooper Works with the optional Mini Connected with navigation is close to $34,000.
Amanda: With a million setups to choose from, it may take a little time to figure out what your 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe will look like. But, hey, that's half the fun.