MINI is credited with bringing the first premium compact car to America, proving that high quality and small packaging are not mutually exclusive concepts. Thoroughly engineered with a well put-together feel, all the Coopers in the MINI lineup are praised for their agility and fun-to-drive factor, and all of that returns for 2019.
The MINI Cooper Hardtop comes with a choice of 2 or 4-door body styles, while each is available in either standard Cooper or Cooper S trim. The 2-door is also available in the high-performance John Cooper Works trim. The convertible is a 2-door only, also offered in Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works trims.
The basic Cooper is powered by a turbocharged 1.5L 3-cylinder engine. While diminutive, this power plant makes 134 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque, which is more than the old 4-cylinder engine found in MINI Coopers of years past. Transmission options include either a standard 6-speed Getrag manual or a 6-speed automatic.
The Cooper S adds an additional level of performance to the MINI. It's powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 189 horsepower and the Getrag 6-speed is standard. A 6-speed automatic is available, as are steering wheel mounted shift paddles. Finally, the John Cooper Works is powered by the same 2.0L, but produces 228 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque.
4-door MINIs ride on a stretched wheelbase, adding more interior room, bigger back seats and the extra pair of doors. Overall, the 4-door adds roughly six inches to the overall length of the car when compared to the 2-door. Interior space grows in nearly every direction as a result, with additional head, shoulder and foot room for rear seat passengers.
MINI typically offers little variety between trim models, other than engine choices. Buyers are instead welcomed to option up their cars individually or through option packages, of which there are many. Being a bit of a premium small car, the MINI Cooper is available with several upscale features, including a head-up display, a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera with parking assist, a harman/kardon sound system and leather seating.
MINI's customization program is legendary. The automaker wants buyers to make the car their own and allows each owner to go beyond simple alloy wheels and paint colors by offering hood stripes, mirror caps, roof decor and a dazzling array of interior upholstery options.
Model year 2017 changes:
Editors' note, August 21, 2017: This review was written based on an evaluation of the 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible. See the changes for the 2017 model year above.
The Good The Mini Cooper S Convertible offers open-top driving for you and a few friends. Its handling feels more nimble than most cars, and its eco and sport modes make a real difference. An optional Harman Kardon audio system is a must for music lovers.
The Bad With the top up, the Mini Convertible's blind spots get large, and with the top down the rear view becomes compromised. The brakes feels a little weak for sport driving. The infotainment system lacks support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the destination and music search interfaces are needlessly tedious.
The Bottom Line With its unique design and fun handling character, it's easy to forgive some of the Mini Cooper S Convertible's flaws, but wise buyers should take a close look at the non-sport Mini Cooper Convertible, which will likely offer equal satisfaction.
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