It's the first model to use a newly developed, front-wheel-drive chassis that will flow into other Mini models, such as the convertible and the Countryman SUV, as those current generation models are due for replacement. The chassis also will be used by BMW, which owns Mini.
"We hope to hold close to the current pricing," Patrick McKenna, manager of product planning, says.
The current Mini Cooper hardtops start at about $20,000 to $25,000, depending on engine, transmission.
The car's still small, but the 2014 is 4 inches longer than the current model, rides on a wheelbase about 1 in. longer and is about 1 in. wider. Rear legroom -- always in short supply in the base Mini Cooper two-door -- grows about 2 in.
Part of the size difference is because Mini pulled the front bodywork ahead 2.4 inches for a bigger crush zone that softens the impact if a pedestrian is hit. Regulations in some markets require that.
•Mini Cooper hardtop, the base model, has a 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline engine rated 134 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque. It replaces a 1.5-liter, 121-hp 4-cyl. in the current model.expects a federal highway mileage rating of more than 40 mpg.
•Mini Cooper S, the higher-performance model, has a 2-liter 4-cyl., rated 189 hp, 207 lbs.-ft. It replaces a 181-hp 4-cyl.
A 3-cyl. engine, intended to save fuel and still uncommon in the U.S., shouldn't be a hard sell, says McKenna.
"What doesn't come across on paper is that the 3-cyl. sounds great. It has a real grunt," he says.
Both engines are available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
New features include:
•Standard backup camera.
•Optional automatic parking, to do most of the work in parallel parking. McKenna: "it constantly searches for any spot about 3 ft. bigger than the car." The system will back the car into the spot with little help from the driver.
•Selectable driving mode. It's standard and, besides the normal setting, provides a sport" setting that firms the suspension and steering and improves throttle response, as well as a "comfort" setting that provides softer ride, easier steering and slower-to-respond throttle that can improve driving smoothness.
•Big center panel in the dashboard, a signature feature, becomes an information screen that can show navigation, fuel-economy driving coaching, and other data related to the card.
•Power-window switches moving to logical site on the door panels, instead of being operated by toggle switches below the center of the dashboard. The row of toggles beloved by Mini fans remains, but the switches control other functions, including starting the car.
•Optional LED headlights.
•Updated telecommunications connectivity.