By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
More than a decade after re-launching in the United States under BMW, Mini's vehicles continue to make a big impact on the small-car landscape. More than just compact cars that fit anywhere, Minis offer some of the best smiles per gallon. Mini's stable of diminutive British vehicles is anything but small, expanding in both size and function with new editions such as the larger Countryman, Paceman and delivery-oriented Clubvan. Despite their growing numbers, all Minis remain based on the original Hardtop's architecture and use a fuel-efficient 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that comes in a variety of power outputs. Base Mini Coopers have a relatively low starting price, but these cars' premium build quality and highly customizable features are reflected in prices that rise quickly with trim levels.
If you want a car that feels more like an adult-sized go-kart, you'll love the Mini. These tidy 4-passenger vehicles are also effortlessly stylish inside and out, and offer high fuel economy. The Clubvan deletes the rear seat and replaces it with a level floor and an aluminum mesh divider.
Even in the larger Clubman form, the 2013 Mini Cooper does not have an expansive interior. If you need to carry more than one passenger on a regular basis, you'll want to step up to a Mini Countryman. The new Clubvan is stylish, but it's not as functional as a Ford Transit Connect.
Bluetooth is now standard and satellite radio is made optional. John Cooper Works (JCW) models can now be had with an automatic transmission. Joining the lineup this year is the fastest Mini ever made – the he limited production John Cooper Works GP – and the Mini Clubvan featuring opaque side windows and an expanded cargo area.
Driving Impressions Minis are nothing if not fun. With a rigid body structure and sporty suspension, Minis are attracted to twisty roads like metal to a magnet. For a front-wheel-drive vehicle, the...... Mini is immensely nimble in corners. Perhaps more impressive is how solid these cars are on the highway. For such a small vehicle, the Mini displays little to none of the nervousness that can plague other subcompacts at freeway speeds. The Convertible also deserves kudos for feeling remarkably planted. Even with the base engine, Mini Coopers are a blast to drive. We endorse Mini's excellent 6-speed manual transmission in all of the brand's models, but especially in the base form, as that engine with the automatic transmission makes the vehicle noticeably slower. With their turbocharged engines, stepping up to Cooper S and JCW editions does just the opposite, making these vehicles even more thrilling. The 2013 Mini Cooper JCW GP, meanwhile, is a delightful deviant with great acceleration and excellent braking and cornering ability. If driving requires a soundtrack, you'll be happy to know the Mini's audio system is a good one, even in standard form.
FOLDABLE REAR SEATS
Cargo space behind the rear seat of Minis is inherently meager. Flip down those seats, though, and interior space opens up commendably. Mini says its Hardtop, for example, can haul 15 bags of cement. Or, opt for the Clubvan and forgo the rear seats altogether.
FUEL ECONOMY/FUN FACTOR
The Mini is proof that you don't need a big, gas-guzzling engine under the hood to have massive amounts of driving satisfaction. The Mini may not win street races, but with up to 37 mpg, you'll experience a different type of joy when you pass your competition at the gas station.
The Mini's stylish, retro exterior looks extend to the interior. High in the center dash is Mini's trademark speedometer, which has nearly the circumference of the steering wheel. Then there are all those tiny toggles and dials, the former of which are ensconced in what appear to be the world's smallest roll bars. The metal switches look and feel great, but can be awkward to use. The Mini's front seats are comfortable and relatively roomy. Worried that you won't fit up front? The automaker claims that even Sasquatch – or drivers up to 6-foot-7 – will fit behind the wheel. The Hardtop and Convertible's tiny rear seats, on the other hand, are best used for luggage. Legroom is marginally better in the Clubman, whose longer body also increases cargo room. Performance-oriented 2013 Mini GP models have only two seats.Exterior
Minis stand out with their low, squat profile. Hardtop versions stand further out with available contrasting-color roofs, while Convertibles use black fabric tops that when up create large interior blind spots. The convertible roof is automatic and has a nifty feature that enables it to remain partially open. The 2-door Hardtop has a rear hatch-style door that lifts high for easy access to the cargo hull. The Clubman/Clubvan has a small third door on the right-hand side that allows easier access to the rear passenger compartment. The Clubman/Clubvan is roughly nine inches longer than the Hardtop, and its cargo bay is accessed by two swing-out doors. S and JCW models feature an air-intake in the front hood and twin tailpipes in back.
A base 2013 Mini Hardtop, with a starting price of $20,400, comes with remote entry and trunk release, a climate-controlled glove box, 6-way front seats, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD Radio system with auxiliary input, Bluetooth wireless communication, and 15-inch alloy wheels. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, with an automatic optional. A "sport" button recalibrates throttle and steering response for a more aggressive feel. On the safety front, there are six airbags, 4-channel antilock brakes, and specialized systems to control traction and braking functions. Complimentary maintenance is included for three years or 36,000 miles, and roadside assistance is provided for four years/unlimited miles.
Start to configure a Mini, and its website will proudly tell you there are more than 10 million ways of doing so. Suffice to say, Minis are highly customizable cars in both aesthetics and creature comforts. For simplicity, many options can also be grouped together, which can save money vs. going a la carte. Among the more prominent options are an automatic transmission (unless you're one of the 500 to get a John Cooper Works GP, only available with a manual gearbox), the Mini Connected infotainment system with or without navigation, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, 10-speaker harman/kardon premium audio, and Dynamic Traction Control system with electronic differential lock.
2013 Mini Cooper models use a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels and is connected to a 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Base models are naturally aspirated (not turbocharged) and make an adequate 121 horsepower. Cooper S and JCW models use a twin-scroll turbocharger and make 181 and 208 horsepower, respectively. And now there is the new top dog among Minis, the John Cooper Works GP, available only with manual transmission. This limited-edition model also uses the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, but it has been bumped to 211 horsepower and up to 207 lb-ft of torque when in "overboost." Mini says the 2013 GP can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 150 mph, making it the fleetest model in the lineup. Mini models are fuel efficient, but they do require premium gasoline.
2013 Mini Cooper
121 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
114 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/37 mpg (manual, Hardtop), 28/36 mpg (automatic, Hardtop), 27/35 mpg (Convertible), 27/35 mpg (Cooper Clubman/Clubvan)
2013 Mini Cooper S
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
181 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic)
2013 Mini John Cooper Works
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
192 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (manual), 26/34 mpg (automatic)
2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
211 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35
The 2013 Mini Cooper Hardtop has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $20,400, while a base Clubman goes for $22,100. At those prices, the base Mini Hardtop and Mini Clubman represent the bargains of the bunch, as prices climb quickly as trims rise and customization options are added. Convertibles start at $25,850, while the Clubvan starts right around $26,000. A Cooper S Hardtop goes for $24,000, while a JCW version is $30,800. Then there is the biggest ask of them all: The limited-edition 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP, which goes for nearly $40,000 ($39,950, to be exact). At these prices, Mini's lineup represents a wide range of prices, competing with everything from a Fiat 500 Turbo and Volkswagen Golfs on the low end to BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 models at the top. Before heading to the dealership, be sure to check KBB's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for specific Mini models. Minis command a premium price when new, but retain their value very well over the years. We expect Mini models to continue to command much better-than-average resale values over the next five years.
By Americanitis on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Styling, handling, "fun" factor, BMW engineering"
Cons: "Reliability, BMW parts/repair $, lousy stereo"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"This is a GREAT car if you can work on cars yourself OR if you buy a MINI Next/CPO or private warranty. This is an enthusiast's car, plain and simple. If you are not comfortable doing your own repairs and maintenance, or don't know anyone who is, buy a Ford/Honda/Toyota instead. This is an AWFUL car if you buy it out of warranty and have to pay someone else to fix it. Again, if you are not comfortable doing your own repairs and maintenance, or don't know anyone who is, buy a Ford/Honda/Toyota instead. This car is one of the best-looking and driving front-wheel-drive cars on the road, period. It handles like a go-kart, and accelerates better than anything this size has the right. It feels heavy and solidly-built, has 6 airbags, and inspires confidence in traffic, or driving in town. It gets great mileage (I have the S, and NEVER get less than 30 mpg driving it hard all the time, and on the highway, I get 34 mpg without fail). Women and kids love it. I love it. When I walk out to my garage in the morning to commute to work, it literally makes me smile every time I see it. I've had it for 2 years, and it still makes me happy. Mine has the lounge leather heated seats, and most other options including the sunroof. It is flat-out a beautiful car. I replaced the stock MINI Boost stereo with MBQuart/Rockford Fosgate stuff, and that was pretty much the only design flaw: the radio is AWFUL. The upgraded HK system doesn't sound much better either, so my advice is to find one with the base Boost setup and at least add a sub. I tore everything out and re-did the whole system, and it was worth every hour and penny to do so. I also lowered the car and swapped out the run-flat Dunlaps for regular tires. It rides and handles way better. I have a can of Fix-A-Flat, a mini air compressor, and AAA instead, as the MINI S doesn't come with a spare tire. The base Cooper does. Now for the bad. This car has some well-known design/engineering/manufacturing issues. 1. The N14 engine, found in the '07-'10 r55/56/57 MCSs was manufactured with a faulty timing chain tensioner. It apparently allows too much slack in the timing chain, and as a result, allows the chain to slap around against the chain guides. Eventually, the guides break, the chain stretches, and the engine WILL fail, catastrophically, as this is an interference-type engine design. For years, MINI/BMW claimed there was no such issue, until this past year, when they finally sent out a service bulletin to affected cars' owners to repair or replace the timing setup for free. Mine was repaired by MINI at no charge, but others whose cars failed prior to the service bulletin weren't so lucky. The internet forums are FULL of MCS owners who had to replace engines at their own expense until MINI fessed up to the problem. MINI has reimbursed these owners as far as I know, but I'm sure they lost more than one customer as a result. The 2011 and later MSC has the n18 engine, which doesn't have the same issue apparently. Google "Mini Cooper Death Rattle" for more info. If you buy one, MAKE SURE this repair has been done. If not, don't buy the car, period. 2. The N14 engine is prone to oil buildup/coking on the intake valves due to the design of the PCV system design. Oil blows out of the PCV valve, through the vacuum tube, into the intake manifold, where it becomes burned onto the intake valves as it's a direct injection motor and thus gas doesn't clean off the valves as it would with a conventional injection setup. This causes acceleration hesitation, can throw engine fault codes, and worsens gas mileage, to the point that some cars have become undriveable until either being treated with Sea Foam or similar engine treatments, OR by blasting the intake valves clean with walnut shells. MINI denies this is an issue even though it's well documented on various forums. Google Mini Cooper Carbon Buildup;" you'll find plenty of stories. Mine also has had this problem. Running half a bottle of Sea Foam through the vacuum line every oil change appears to take care of it, so hopefully it doesn't get to the point where the head needs to come off and valves need replacing. The dealers know about this too, and many use Sea Foam or similar products to treat it, but MINI's official position has been silence, as best as I can tell. You can check to see if a car has this issue: take it out on the highway, get it up to 50-60 in top gear, and floor the accelerator to about 70 mph. The car shouldn't stutter or miss. If it does, it has this issue and it needs to be treated. 3. The Dunlap run-flat tires run approx $400 apiece. That's APIECE. Add to that the cost of rebuilding the TPMS sensors, and you're looking at $1500 every time it needs tires. If you buy this car, invest in a AAA membership, and swap out the RFs for regular tires. It'll be quieter, ride better, and it won't cost you $1500 for tires. You're welcome. 4. BMW repair costs. The car is designed, engineered, and built by BMW. It is VERY expensive to maintain this car if you choose to do so at the dealership. Learn to do maintenance stuff yourself, find a friend who does and will, or find a local indy Euro car garage and become friends. Also, this is a German car, and as such, requires a higher level of maintenance than your average American or Japanese car. It's just the way they are. Things on this car are wear items where they really aren't on other cars. Control arms/bushings, etc., need regular replacing on German/Euro cars and not on Toyotas, for example. Also, order your parts from Rockauto or some similar site to save BIG $$$ on parts costs. 5. BMW recommends oil change intervals of 10K-20K with synthetic oil. I think 10K is probably pushing it for a small, high-compression turbo engine. Do 5k-7.5k to stay safe. I use Wix filters and Mobil 1 0W30 every 5k-7.5k (rec'd by BMW/MINI for this car) and have no issues. You're on your own if you go 20k miles between changes. 6. The car also has a well-known issue of the thermostat temp sensor failing. When it does, it fails so that thermostat is in the "open" position which means the car is driveable so long as you can stand the CEL (check engine light) being on. The problem is that the thermostat and sensor are molded into this ridiculous Jarvic-heart-looking device that costs over $100 just for the part and is a royal PIA to reach/swap out because it's buried under a bunch of other hoses and stuff.. Mine failed at 20K miles, which, according to my research, is fairly common. So that's pretty much it: it is a great car when it's all working right, and an AWFUL AND EXPENSIVE car when it isn't. It will make you smile every time you look at it, but it will break your heart too, multiple times, and expensively. If, like me, you can work on it yourself, go for it; you won't regret it. If you get an extended warranty, go for it. It is the BEST car I've ever owned. I love how it looks, drives, smells, sounds, everything, and the good things about it FAR outweigh its issues SO FAR. BUT if you are looking for utterly reliable transportation that happens to be cute AND cannot work on it yourself and don't have patience for the typical German maintenance/reliability issues, look elsewhere, as this ain't it."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Former MINI Owner on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Too many problems
Pros: "Fun to drive. Lots of power. 32 MPG average."
Cons: "Codes: P0300 and P0304"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I owned a 2008 Mini Cooper S (6-speed automatic) for 5 1/2 years. I ended up doing a trade in as I didn't have the heart to stick a private party with my problem. A problem from day one (with only 10 miles on the car): The driver's side power window was always flaky. On occasion if I'd close it, it would automatically come back down a few inches. After 30,000 miles the major/costly problems were: 1. Excessive oil consumption. It got worse over time and in the end I was adding one quart every 1,000 miles. 2. Dead battery. The dealer charged me $300. I was told they have to enter new info into the computer...you can't just buy a new battery and replace it on your own. I still question this. 3. At 33,000 miles, four new tires at the dealer...need run flat tires. $1,100. 4. Windshield replacement. A nationally known company told me with MINI they only use OEM parts because they have had too many fit problems in the past. $600+ 5. Two flat tires. Tire shops don't want to deal with run flats. Back to the dealer and their solution was to replace not plug the tires. Tires cost $275 each! 6. Carbon buildup, more than once. 7. Failed fuel injector. It filled #4 cylinder with fuel and fuel was actually coming out of the tail pipe. $1,400 Possible damage to the catalytic converter...ouch! 8. It ran rough after starting it in cold weather. On one occasion I got the low power light. 9. Numerous check engine lights, both red and yellow. NOTE: Red means park the car and get it towed. 10. Stretched timing chain. (dealer wanted $2,000 to fix it) After some research on the internet, I have since learned that the R56 Gen 2 Mini Cooper S, from 2007 to 2010 with the N14 engine is "problematic." Happy Motoring!"
22 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By Icetea65 on Saturday, June 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,737overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great gas mileage"
Cons: "Haven't found any,cause I love it"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have always wanted a Mini Cooper,while my daughter wants a bigger and badder truck. Me I've Always wanted a Mini Cooper and I finally got the chance to buy one,I couldn't afford to buy new but I was able to buy used with low miles I've finally gotten my dream car and I love it"