The Mini Cooper is a classic Brit-built car that has transformed itself from a simple and affordable conveyance into an iconic world-class vehicle. The Mini Cooper’s origins date back to 1957, when instability in the Suez Canal region caused gas prices to soar. The Morris Company’s Sir Leonard Lord told the company’s top engineer to design a small car that would get excellent fuel economy, could carry four adults, and would be affordable for working people. Its top engineer came up with a design that pushed the front wheels to the very outer corners of the chassis and positioned the small motor sideways, to create the unique structure of the Mini Cooper. The first Mini hit the streets in 1959.

Price and Value

The Mini Cooper delivers value with every model built and sold since 1959. Early models relied on relatively under-powered motors that reflected post-World War II technology. What began as a simple and affordable vehicle for running errands around town has transformed into a car that delivers a solid performance. The Mini Cooper is priced affordably compared to the competition, and it consistently ranks as one of the best subcompact cars on the market but still delivers a lot of bang for the buck. Some models can exceed 150 mph with reliable twin-turbo four-cylinder motors that produce more than 300 horsepower.

Size and Seating Capacity

Current editions of the Mini Cooper come in either a two- or four-door Mini Hardtop with a hatchback or a two-door Mini Convertible with a small trunk. The two-door Hardtop and Convertible models seat up to four adults while the four-door Hardtop models seat up to five. The Convertible has 5.7 cubic feet of trunk space that expands to 7.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. The two-door Hardtop offers 8.7 cubic feet of space with the back seats up and 34 cubic feet with them folded down. The four-door Hardtop features 13.1 cubic feet with the back seats up and 40.7 cubic feet when they are folded down.

A deep dive on all things Mini Cooper
Battery, Range, and Engine Specs

Your choices start among three turbocharged engines with either a seven-speed automatic transmission or a manual which delivers power to a pair of drive wheels up front. The base engine is a three-cylinder motor that displaces 1.5 liters and delivers up to 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The base motor is rated for up to 28 mpg in town and 36 on the highway and takes more than seven seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.

The four-cylinder Cooper S motors displace up to 2.0 liters and deliver up to 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S can go from 0 to 60 mph in just over six seconds while getting up to 36 mpg on the highway and 28 in the city. The Clubman John Cooper Works All4 is the most potent Mini Cooper with a TwinPower Turbo engine rated for 301 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and track-ready sport suspension that enables it to reach 155 mph in stock form.

Cooper also offers the Mini Cooper SE Hardtop powered by an electric engine rated for up to 115 miles in the city and 100 on the highway between charges. Another option is the Cooper SE Countryman All4, which has a hybrid engine that gets a combined 73 mpg when using electric and gas and 29 mpg on gas only.

Trims and Features

A wide variety of customizable Mini Cooper models ensures an ideal fit awaits. All come with leather-wrapped steering wheels and heated front seats that provide ample legroom. Rear seats are best reserved for petite adults, kids, or groceries. Current editions come equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen that enables full control of the car’s entertainment system, but you can add an 8.8-inch display that supports satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and wireless phone charging.

The Mini Cooper generally comes in five trim levels with several sub-trims. The five primary trim levels are listed below along with their respective sub-trim levels.

A deep dive on all things Mini Cooper
Convertible: The Convertible has two doors, a trunk, and a powered soft top. The respective sub trims are the Cooper, Cooper S, and the John Cooper Works. They range in price from nearly $28,000 for the Cooper, which gives you 134 horsepower and has a top speed of 127 mph, to almost $32,000 for the Cooper S and nearly $39,000 for the sporty John Cooper Works. The Works gives you 228 horsepower from its twin-turbo four-cylinder motor and can reach 149 mph. The Cooper S offers up 189 horsepower and can reach 143 mph.

Hardtop Two-Door: These are the most affordable of the Mini Cooper family, but they still give you excellent performance. The Cooper costs well under $23,000, gives you 134 horsepower, and is capable of hitting 130 mph on the speedometer from its three-cylinder engine with turbocharger. The Cooper S comes in under $27,000 with a four-cylinder engine that gives you 189 horsepower and can send you down the road at 145 mph. The John Cooper Works edition of the Mini Hardtop Two-Door boosts horsepower to 228 with a 149 mph top speed. It’s within reach for less than $33,000.

Hardtop Four-Door: This model uses a twin turbocharged four-cylinder and comes at a price of $23,400 for the Cooper and almost $28,000 for the Cooper S sub-trim levels. The Cooper is good for 129 mph and up to 134 horsepower from its three-cylinder motor while the Cooper S boosts horsepower up to 189 and a top speed of 145 mph thanks to its four-cylinder powerplant.

Countryman SAV: These have four doors and hardtops with luggage racks and can handle mild off-roading with all-wheel drivetrains. The Countryman costs nearly $29,000 and gives you 134 horsepower from a twin-turbo motor that can propel you down the road at up to 124 mph with its front-wheel drive. The Cooper All4 costs a bit more at almost $31,000 but delivers about the same performance with an all-wheel drivetrain. The Cooper S boosts horsepower to 189 and top speed to 140 but comes at a sticker price of nearly $32,000 while the Cooper S All4 does about the same with an all-wheel drive for almost $34,000. The John Cooper Works All4 tops 300 horsepower and is rated for up to 149 mph with a nearly $42,000 price tag.

Clubman: This is the fastest and sportiest of the Mini Cooper family and comes in three sub-trim levels, all of which have 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines and generally outperform their respective sub-trim counterparts among other Mini Cooper models. The first of the sub-trims is the Cooper S, which gives you 189 horsepower and can reach 142 mph with front-wheel drive for almost $31,000. The second is the Cooper S All4, which gives you all-wheel drive, 189 horsepower, and speeds up to 140 mph for nearly $33,000. The third is the John Cooper Works All4, which boosts power with a TwinPower Turbo motor that gives you 301 horsepower, goes up to 155 mph in stock form, and costs nearly $40,000.

A deep dive on all things Mini Cooper
Safety

Mini Cooper models made as recently as 2019 earned a Top Safety selection from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and continue rating highly for safety. Each model comes standard with automated emergency braking, traction control, daytime running lights, and auto-leveling headlights. Six airbags help to prevent injuries if an accident occurs, and ABS brakes help to prevent collisions. Optional safety features include adaptive cruise control, parking assistance, and automatic high-beam headlights. All those safety features and its sturdy construction earned the Mini Cooper four out of five possible stars from the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) for overall safety, frontal crash, side crash, and rollover ratings.

Reliability

The Mini Cooper consistently ranks among the most reliable subcompacts on the market. JD Power and Associates currently ranks it second in its class and says there are no recalls issued for safety or manufacturing defects. All Mini Coopers benefit from a four-year or 50,000-mile factory warranty that helps to cover costs if unexpected repairs are in order. An optional service contract provides preventive maintenance that helps to keep the already reliable Mini running in top form. If you like a lot of performance without spending a lot of money, the Mini Cooper has many great options.

The Takeaway

While the Mini Cooper remains one of the most diminutive subcompact cars on the market, it has grown up and matured greatly over six decades of production. Current models thoroughly reflect their 21st-century origins with unique styling, solid performance, and affordable pricing. Good fuel economy, excellent handling, reliable motors, and modern safety features help the Mini Cooper to continually rank among the best subcompact cars available on the market. Its small size makes it perfect for driving in big cities while its long range makes road trips affordable. Six decades of factory and aftermarket support means you can customize a Mini Cooper to your exact tastes.