While the Mini Cooper may well be the quintessential fun-to-drive small car, its diminutive footprint and snug cabin may not make sense for every buyer. Those who can make a subcompact car work in their lifestyles will find the Cooper a real creampuff, with a fun-loving nature that begs you to take it on a brisk drive on twisty roads. The standard setup is a three-door hatchback, but a five-door hatchback and a convertible are also offered, and all of them feature Mini's iconic retro-modern styling. If you're easy on options, you can get into a base-level Cooper for the price of a well-equipped Honda Civic, but as soon as you start adding desirable options—including swapping the standard 134-hp turbo three-cylinder for the punchier 189-hp turbo four—the Mini suddenly wears a price tag similar to that of an
Audi A3 or a BMW 2-series. If you have even more money to spend and want to ramp up the performance and handling, check out the Cooper JCW (reviewed separately), which uses a 228-hp version of the Cooper's turbo four-cylinder engine.
Where This Vehicle Ranks
What's New for 2024?
Mini added the manual transmission back to the lineup last year, but only on the three-door hardtop models. Now, the six-speed stick is available across the entirety of the Cooper lineup, including convertible and five-door hardtop models. Last year's Resolute Edition package sticks around for the 2024 model year due to its popularity. Based on the top-spec Iconic trim, the Resolute Edition package adds Rebel Green exterior paint, bronze-colored hood stripes, and yellow and cream tweed interior upholstery.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd choose to go with the manual transmission and put it in the more powerful 189-hp Cooper S Hardtop to maximize the fun-to-drive factor. The five-door Hardtop costs a bit extra, but we'd stick with the three-door since neither Mini is all that spacious. Beyond that, the personal customization options are numerous and desirable, and we'll leave them up to you.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The standard engine is a 134-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, which provides adequate pep in this small, lightweight, front-drive vehicle. We prefer the S models, which come with a 189-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. With the larger engine, the S proved to be a little more than a second faster to 60 mph than with the base 1.5-liter engine, clocking in at 6.2 seconds. We found the automatic transmission shifts well, but the manual transmission is still our favorite as it provides the most driver engagement. The firm suspension lends itself to enthusiast-oriented driving, which can make the Mini Cooper exciting, but the ride can be unforgiving on rough roads.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Hardtop and convertible models with the base three-cylinder engine are rated for 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway with the automatic transmission and 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway with the manual. With the three-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual, we managed 38 mpg during our 75-mph highway fuel economy test route. The more powerful 2.0-liter engine in the Cooper S is rated slightly lower by the EPA, with automatic models earning ratings as high as 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway and manual models earning ratings of 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. For more information about the Cooper's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Mini's interior is charmingly quirky but at the cost of user-friendliness. Rear-seat passenger space is tight, but front-seat occupants will find little reason to complain. The Convertible model's power top will fold in 18 seconds to unlock the joy of unlimited headroom. Too bad its trunk is tiny. Hardtop models offer more practicality inside their hatchback bodies—but still not a lot given the car's small size. The Hardtop model's trunk is quite small, offering room for just three carry-on suitcases in our testing. But drop the rear seats, and there's room for 12 carry-ons. The five-door Hardtop offers more space for cargo with the rear seats folded, but the Convertible offers less. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front seats come standard on the Mini Cooper, and a leather interior is optional.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Mini Cooper models come standard with an 8.8-inch infotainment display and a digital gauge cluster. SiriusXM satellite radio is also standard across the lineup, but buyers seeking Apple CarPlay, in-dash navigation, or wireless phone charging will need to pay extra for those features. Android Auto is not available.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Mini Cooper comes with standard automated emergency braking and offers adaptive cruise control and park assist as options. For more information about the Cooper's crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Mini offers a slightly better warranty than other small-car manufacturers, particularly with complimentary scheduled maintenance. Volvo and BMW both offer complimentary scheduled maintenance plans that match Mini's policy.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles