By KBB.com Editors
The 2007 MINI Cooper and Cooper S models represent the first major redesign of the beloved small car since the MINI brand's reintroduction to America in 2002. The tiny cars have been an undeniable success, selling in numbers far exceeding parent company BMW's expectations. Hallmarks of the two-door four-seat hatchback's design include sporty handling, distinct styling and more interior space than its small exterior dimensions imply. The popularity of MINI has helped to expand America's acceptance of small cars and in many ways defined the premium small car market. Competitors to the MINI are varied and include the Volkswagen Beetle, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Mazda MX-5 and Audi A3.
If you want high style and high performance in a small package, the MINI is for you. It combines excellent handling and charming looks with a remarkable level of modifications available from the factory. Drivers who crave uniqueness will love the ability to tailor their MINIs to match their tastes.
If you regularly travel with more than one passenger or need lots of cargo space, pass on the MINI. Despite excellent use of the available space, it is still a very small car. Also, the MINI's ride may be too firm for those more interested in comfort than performance.
A quick glance at the redesigned MINI suggests a mild redesign; however, a closer inspection reveals a number of important changes. The latest MINI is more than two inches longer, has revised interior and exterior styling, offers a new range of engines and actually weighs less than the model it replaces.
Driving Impressions Its light, easy-to-use clutch, smooth ride and quick-shifting transmission make commuting in the redesigned MINI more pleasant than in the outgoing model. A new, improved range of engines offers more...power, better fuel economy, excellent throttle response and quieter operation. In Cooper trim, the MINI has adequate acceleration but needs to be shifted down a gear or two to maintain speed when driving uphill on the freeway. The Cooper S comes equipped with a turbocharged engine that provides ample power with virtually no lag. Peak torque is available at only 1600 rpm, resulting in quick and worry-free merging or passing maneuvers. An interesting feature is a standard Sport button which quickens throttle response, increases steering effort and speeds up shifts in MINIs equipped with automatic transmissions. The result is a much more livable car during daily drives, with all the sporting flair of the old MINI available at the touch of a button.
The Sport Button is a wonderful solution that allows MINI drivers to live a double life. During daily commutes steering and throttle reactions are relaxed, making time behind the wheel less fatiguing. Push the Sport Button and the MINI transforms into a fun and focused driving machine.
The optional sunroof covers both the front and rear passengers, adding a sense of spaciousness to the interior. Only the front portion of the sunroof opens but with the front section in the vent position, the rear section also tilts open to let rear-seat passengers enjoy the breeze.
The most obvious area of change for the redesigned MINI is the interior. Larger armrests in the doors, new seats with more supportive seat cushions and a quieter interior, free of the rattles that plagued the previous MINI, greatly enhance driving comfort. For such a small car the MINI makes the most of its available interior space. Those riding in the front seats enjoy excellent head and legroom. However, rear passengers may feel cramped with tight shoulder space and limited legroom. An all-new dash panel is stylish, but the layout can be confusing and, though the knobs and switches look good, they can be difficult to operate. Like the rest of the MINI, the interior can be customized to suit the buyer's taste with a variety of dash trim colors, seat materials and metal, wood or carbon fiber accents.Exterior
The MINI's new body looks similar to that of the outgoing model but includes a number of changes, including headlamps mounted to the body instead of the hood, rear side glass that no longer wraps around the C-pillar, a simpler front bumper design and a taller front hood to accommodate new European pedestrian crash standards. Despite the changes, the new model retains all of the key MINI design cues, including a contrasting roof and side mirrors, large round headlamps and bulging black fender trim. A wide range of exterior colors are available, including the choice of black, white or body-color roof paint. Further, the MINI can be equipped with options like hood and roof stripes, aero kits, wheel and tire packages and a chrome package.
The MINI Cooper is well equipped with standard items like push button engine stop/start, AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers and MP3 capability, air conditioning, six-speed manual transmission, color-adjustable interior lighting, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and power windows and mirrors. Safety items like Electronic Stability Program (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and six airbags are also standard.
The MINI Cooper and Cooper S can be outfitted with a long list of options. Although most are available as stand-alone additions, MINI combines many of its popular options into packages. The Premium Package includes steering wheel-mounted controls, sunroof and automatic air conditioning. The Convenience Package includes universal garage remote, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps and center arm rest. Also available are Sport, Cold Weather and high-end Audio Packages. In addition to the options available from the factory, MINI offers a wide range of dealer-installed accessories for customers to further customize their cars.
The Cooper and the Cooper S have 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engines that produce more power and are more efficient than the previous generation of engines. Power in the Cooper is acceptable, but the turbocharged Cooper S engine is a powerhouse, with 177 pound-feet of maximum continuous torque and an "overboost" feature that temporarily increases engine torque to 191 pound-feet. Easy shifting six-speed manual and optional automatic transmissions keep both engines operating in their ideal rpm ranges, maximizing performance and efficiency.
1.6-liter in-line 4
118 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
114 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/40 (manual), 30/37 (automatic)
1.6-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
172 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/36 (manual), 27/34 (automatic)
By Chris (PA) on Monday, May 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Extremely fun to drive, surprisingly spacious"
Cons: "Pricey for its class"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The 2011 MINI Cooper hatchback is a great model year for an updated classic. The interior is surprisingly spacious and comfortable, and doesn't ride too low to the ground. This vehicle brings fuel efficiency and a large fuel tank to the driving experience, leaving you with more time to just enjoy the drive. Handling is great and there's just enough power on the base model to have a little extra fun on the open road. The "sport" button included on all BMW models around this time adds some extra power, and the heightened steering sensitivity is great for cornering on winding roads. If you like driving manual transmission, the hill assist feature is great for hilly regions, and extremely helpful for beginners. I haven't had any problems with the vehicle, but it's only 2 years old at this point. Everything seems pretty solid, so I don't anticipate anything coming up any time soon either."
By Spin (CA) on Sunday, May 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, head room, and quality control."
Cons: "Air conditioning vent obstructed by steering wheel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've had my Mini for a year now and I enjoy it more now than I did when I first leased it. The first thing I noticed compared to other similar cars is the handling. On the test drive I was blown away. Taking corners at 60 mph with ease and driving over big speed bumps at 60 mph with little jolting. The doors close and seem solid, there is plenty of head room and I'm 6 foot. There is only one thing I don't like about the car that I think about all the time, is how can they design the left air conditioning vent behind the steering wheel, the cold air gets blocked by the steering wheel, just bothers me. Other than that I have no complaints."
By Sunshine (MI) on Wednesday, May 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "Has a little character. Rattles and such."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fun to drive, great pep to get you merging on the freeway in a jiffy, good gas mileage, shifter, door handles, other parts all solid metal unlike most economy compact cars (plastic and they break over time). Did I mention an absolute joy to drive??"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Eris on Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, unique interior"
Cons: "pricey, bumpy ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I've had this car for 2 years now and the only problem I can say I've had is a slight rattle in the driver's side door (what MINI doesn't have a unique noise these days?). I love my little car. I drive about 10 miles to work every day through suburban roads in the DC metro area. It's not the most comfortable ride, but the driving dynamics MORE than make up for it. I find my base version has just enough pep to get me around town in a fun and timely fashion! I was worried about reliability initially, but so far so great! I have a lot of people come up and talk to me about my car, or make "The Italian Job" comments, hah. Owning a MINI has definitely been a unique experience, one I can't say I've had in the past with "regular" vehicles."
8 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Carla (GA) on Sunday, April 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great to drive, corners like a dream, very Eco"
Cons: "Limited leg room in back seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car new, off the rack when we were stationed in HI. It is perfect for traffic driving, small parking places and tight turning. It came with run-flat tires which I HATED. Mine barely lasted 20,000 miles before I had to replace 2. Then another one developed a leak, so I had to replace 2 more. That is the only issues I have ever had. With the back seats folding down, you can get a ton of luggage or whatever you need in the back of the car."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Madge G. (MI) on Saturday, March 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy to drive, fun, great gas mileage"
Cons: "Expensive repairs, short lived clutches"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I just purchased my second manual shift Mini Cooper S. There are drawbacks, to be sure, but I am willing to put up with them because I love the car so much. The great things about this car: easy to get into little spaces, peppy, cute, fun to drive, and if you don't need the back seats (I usually don't), the rear area with seats down is as good as my husband's Jeep Cherokee cargo space. I have an easy time merging onto the highway because of all the turbo power (I'm a professional woman in my 50s, so not interested in hot rodding, but it is nice to be able to speed up quickly when necessary). Front seats are great for tall/long legged people. Gas mileage is fantastic, which is a nice feeling despite fact that the turbo takes premium gas only. The Mini is just sort of "me" and makes me happy on most days. Downsides (and there are lots, I admit): the clutch wears out quickly and is not covered under warranty unless "broken." This is a $2,000 problem, and for me it happened at 40,000 miles. Google about the longstanding problems with Mini clutches. This needs to be addressed! Another downside is that this is not a car that gives you a smooth, luxurious ride. It just isn't that kind of car, and if that's what is important to you, the Mini isn't the car for you. I personally don't care, but on the highway especially, the car is loud. You get used to it! Another drawback is that because car is noisy, the Bluetooth doesn't work well. Many times I have to switch to talking directly on my phone. In the snow, it isn't great (but neither was my big Ford Taurus which like my Mini, didn't have 4 wheel drive). The knobs don't always make sense (it is a quirky car, as I said). Oh, and the windows fog up in the winter (more so than other cars I have had). Still, the Mini has been my favorite car of all I have owned. To be certain, there are flaws. But it is a classic car that doesn't go out of style, and the "gimmicks" offered in other cars from model to model year just don't really apply to the Mini (I like it that the car doesn't change much from year to year, but of course if I wanted, there are tons of ways to accessorize and decorate it). Can't help feeling a lot of affection for this car!"
16 people out of 17 found this review helpful