The 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe is MINI's first foray into the 2-seater sport coupe market. In John Cooper Works guise, the sportiness gets turned up to eleven. With a 208-horsepower turbo-charged engine, sport suspension, and Brembo brakes, the Cooper Coupe John Cooper Works is definitely ready for the track.
Having only had the opportunity to experience our long-term MINI on short trips around Atlanta, I wanted to see how this sports car handled something a bit longer. Always on the lookout for the next car to fill my garage, I had found an interesting prospect in Nashville, Tennessee, about 250 miles away. I figured an eight-hour round trip should do a pretty good job of finding out just how comfortable the Cooper Coupe could be.
First and foremost, our test vehicle has many options that help to make longer road trips more bearable. Considering my unfortunate lack of any type of directional proficiency, the optional navigation system was definitely going to be relied on heavily. I assumed the upgraded Harmon-Kardon sound system playing satellite radio and my iPod would provide all of the entertainment I would need.
After an early morning fill-up, I was on my way. Once I had everything adjusted to my liking, the MINI performed surprisingly well and most of my fears were quashed. Well, mostly.
All vehicles with low profile, high-performance tires must sacrifice some comfort for performance, and our John Cooper Works is no different. After 2 hours of continuous highway driving, the drone from the tires began to get a bit annoying. Turning up the stereo helped some, but it also added to an already noisy cabin.
As expected, the view from inside is pretty limited. This is magnified over 50 mph when the active rear spoiler automatically deploys, making a high-speed lane change more of an "act of faith" maneuver. After a few hours, the cabin does begin to feel a little claustrophobic, and there is no sunroof or convertible top to help. At least with the upgraded leather seats and armrest, the surroundings were nice.
The optional navigation system did come in handy on multiple occasions. Once arriving in Nashville, I was quickly able to find many interesting local places to grab lunch and stretch my surprisingly well-rested legs. With the real-time traffic feature, I was easily redirected around two traffic jams on my return to Atlanta.
The MINI Cooper Coupe John Cooper Works is not the perfect road trip vehicle. But in a pinch, it can perform quite adequately. There's plenty of luggage space for a weekend trip, and the extra amenities we have sure helped to minimize some of the downfalls that most 2-seat sports cars have. In my case, until I do find my next addition, the 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe will do just fine.