Go-kart-driving fun and an interior that provides the maximum amount of car in the minimum amount of space. [xfloat=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2008_Mini_Cooper_Convertible.jpg[/xfloat]Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Sept. 24, 2008 Introducing the 2009 MINI Cooper – Starting at just $19,200 including destination with a 28/37 mpgUS EPA rating. With 2008 Mini sales up greater than 32 percent year to date, the Mini Cooper is not only a popular fuel miser but offers a fun to drive experience not available in possibly anything else. Performance plays a major role in this fun factor. With the Mini Coopers naturally-aspirated 1.6L four-cylinder engine including variable valve control, 0 to 60 mph disappears in just 8.5 seconds. The EPAS Electrical Power-Assisted Steering helps make the MINI even more nimble and agile on the road, as speed-related assistance ensuring low steering forces when parking and precise control at high speeds. Safety In a recent NHTSA tests, the MINI excelled in all aspects with four- and five-star ratings. Benefiting from its strong and stable body structure, the MINI offers a standard of crash safety unique in its segment. In the event of a collision, optimized load paths within the body structure serve to effectively divert forces acting on the car, despite the short overhangs front and rear. The MINI comes with a wide range of safety equipment, including six standard airbags to enhance occupant safety. New for 2009, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is standard on all models and offered for the first time on a MINI product is Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) coming in late 2008. DTC also includes a new EDLC (Electronic Differential Lock) function that controls wheel spin on the drive wheels during acceleration by using front brake force to manage the speed and torque differential between the wheels. Active safety is enhanced in critical driving situations by the standard anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBFD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC). Brake Assist (BA) is also standard. BA detects emergency operation of the brakes and builds up maximum brake pressure very quickly. Hill Assist start-off assistance, in conjunction with DSC, maintains brake pressure for up to 3 seconds after the brake pedal has been released and before the clutch has been engaged, to prevent the car from rolling back when setting off on an uphill gradient. Fuel Economy And the real reason to consider a Mini Cooper. The standard Mini returns excellent fuel economy with preliminary EPA 2009 estimates of 28/37 City/Highway for a combined rating of 32 mpg. Consider its peers for the US’ top fuel miser spot includes the mighty Prius-II at 46 mpgUS, the HCH-II at 42 mpgUS, the Smart Fortwo at 36 mpgUS, Jetta TDI at 34 mpgUS and the Yaris at 32 mpgUS. None of the fuel misers listed has quite the same “fun to drive” quotient which makes the Mini a formidable choice.