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 Jeb (WA) on Thursday, November 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, plenty of power (R56)"
Cons: "Run flat tires"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This car has been a joy to drive. My wife and I have traveled from Maine to Florida and up the West Coast to Seattle: Car could not have operated better."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By 4Quarts (CA) on Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun - Fun - Fun to drive, great value for the $$."
Cons: "Can't think of any, really!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"With nimble handling, and a responsive drivetrain, Mini's are street legal Go-Karts with accessories. I have a 2010 Cooper Hardtop with a 6-Speed manual transmission I use as a daily driver. If I'm easy on the throttle, I get 40MPG all day at 70 MPH with the A/C on. When I engage the Sport mode, I feel the steering and throttle tighten up giving a much more sporty ride especially through mountain roads. The S model is worth the extra money and can be tuned beyond 205HP. I ordered my car with the Panorama Sunroof and Harman-Kardon sound system, perfect for all the right reasons. After market accessories are almost endless allowing you to customize your Mini in any way. The Mini culture is friendly and drivers' are all very nice, sometimes waving to each other on the road! Happy Motoring!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By cooper owner (AZ) on Monday, November 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun, economical, long warranty,manu support"
Cons: "small car, a bit noisy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"road hugging quality of a sports car. better if you have shorter passengers. safe and so fun. not for big family but perfect for commuting to work etc."
By NorCalCommuter (CA) on Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, great handling, fun to drive"
Cons: "Road noise, tight/complicated interior controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"First the Pros: sporty, fun to drive, cool exterior styling, with great handling and pep (even in the 6 speed manual transmission base model)and above average gas mileage. Easy, no hassle vehicle build and customization via the Mini website. Worked out a lease on a custom built 2013 hardtop almost entirely through the website and emailing the dealership after a test drive. The Cons: once you incorporate this vehicle into your daily life, you begin to see that this car is for a very narrow segment of the driving population. This car is extremely small. The interior is cramped for anything more than 2 adults in the front seat. Even small children lack leg room and a place to plant their feet in the back seat with a 5'4" driver. I have not tried, nor would I subject an average sized adult into the backseat. Better to put the seats down and use the back for trunk/storage. Even getting kids into the back seat is a difficult climb. The cockpit is narrow and at 5'8" I find myself knocking my legs and arms into parts of the interior. The seat belts catch between the seats and door pillars. You have to either grab the buckle while the door is open, or open the door to be able to pull the buckle out. Very annoying. Road noise on the freeway is unbearable. The car lacks serious insulation. It feels like the road is going to rip through the floorboard. Bad for long freeway drives. The interior control design is extremely poor. Mini appears to be trying to give you this retro old school vehicle experience, while at the same time, hiding all of the modern information systems you want (usual upfront) in a car deep into complicated (and archaic) electronic systems. Too many switches with small graphics explaining their function requiring you to take your eyes off the road, locate, read and confirm, then select. Heating/Cooling controls are also difficult to set and select. The electronics take confusing, multiple steps to program through a steering column mounted push button. A small steering column mounted display digitally shows your current speed. This is good, because the huge manual speedometer dial is to the right and below the dash. If you were to try to look at this to figure your speed you take your eyes off the road way too long. Rather than have multiple information sources displayed (temp, mileage, mpg, etc). You have to toggle through this info one at a time on that small display above the wheel. This same toggle also programs sounds, lock systems, etc for the car. Way too much work, way too many levels, and something you can't do while driving or stopped in traffic. The Mini-Connected system is HORRIBLE. A joystick based (mounted between the seats near the e-brake) control with multiple levels and sub levels to do things like set stereo sound, stations, bluetooth, entertainment, etc. This is one of the worst systems I have ever used. With such a huge screen space, Mini needs to have a touch screen system for ease of navigation and speed. Mini: move the things we want to see back to where they belong, behind the steering wheel in the dash (mileage, speedometer, temp, mpg, clock, fuel gauge, etc). Know that getting 16" wheels will come with "run-flat" tires. Upon settling my lease, the finance manager did a hard sell and scare for a "tire insurance" program due to the run flat tires tending to damage easy with pot-holes and curbs, and costing $300 per tire to replace (that's what Mini will charge, other shops are more like $160 per tire). At around $20 more a month, Mini will cover and replace any tire damage during your lease and replace with a new tire with no deductible. Why they use run-flats that are so weak they have to offer insurance, is beyond me. In closing. If you are a single person who might have an occasional passenger and don't need more room other than a briefcase for work and a few bags of groceries, this car is for you. Long term reliability is mixed with other reviewers, but based on the annoyances I have had, I am glad I only have a lease, and that all maintenance is included during this time. This is a car you really need to drive with your normal routine for a week or two and see if you can get past the annoying interior. Rent one first before you buy and lease. You might fall in love during the test drive and all the slick/hip image the dealer and company push out, but this car will not fit all people or lifestyles!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Casey (OR) on Sunday, November 03, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun with a capital F. and great mpg"
Cons: "Ride might be stiff for some. Order the 16" wheels"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car surprises everyone. Really quick, handles like a go cart, and even if you drive like a hooligan you'll still get 30 mpg. Nice leather interior, its basically a BMW 128i. and more interior room than you'd expect, I'm 6'4" and fit quite comfortably. I also really enjoyed building this car to my specs. A great experience and a fun to drive, economical sports car."
By Nochanceinhell666 (FL) on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My MINI...I purchased a used 2009 Mini Cooper S, one owner in immaculate condition with 32k miles on the clock. Fantastic car thus far. I scoured the internet reading as much as I could, good and bad, from Emme Hall's not so great review to the gloating British reviews as well as the general history of the original and it's significance in the world of motor vehicles, and yes, I have seen both Italian Job films. I also took some time to lurk around the forums to research the potential and known issues with some of the cars that may need to be addressed prior or immediately after purchasing. I also opted for the extended warranty just after the initial sale, it seemed reasonable considering the chain tensioner issue as well as just adding some reassurance to the purchase for the next few years and I was happy to extend it. Three days after purchase, I heard the rattle on cold start, which is the plastic guides becoming loose and breaking off, and took the car in and had it fixed in the week. Easy to take care of if you know what you should be paying attention to, respect the maintenance and care for the car and I would imagine that it will serve me well in return and so far it has been great. I plan to check oil regularly and dismiss the 10k limit suggested by MINI. Honda owners should be familiar with replacing timing belts around 70-90k miles, I've had my share of those as well, and don't see myself as a victim of 'big auto company neglect' as some of the reviews come across, in my search for this car. I looked a hundreds of used ones for sale online before making my top 5 list of the minis I wanted and luckily scored my top pick. Low miles, single owner with a maintenance record, no accidents, lounge leather interior, chrome line trim, pano roof, anthracite liner, heated seats, zenon headlights, white turn signals, auto climate control, beautiful dark silver metallic with black trim exterior coupled with the black leather seats and white trim, classy. The only thing that I really wish it had are the 17" black spoke wheels, but that can be for Christmas, I like the black 16" that came with it but would prefer the reduction in wheel gap. There is a dash rattle in mine, not enough to really bother me, though I hear of people complaining loudly about it, as well as excessive road noise, though I can't honestly complain there either, given what this car is, it's size, the run-flats and single pane glass. It is compact, and not for everyone, though toting my wife and daughter around with groceries is certainly not as difficult as some make it out to be. My flat coat retriever 70 lbs loves to ride in the back as well albeit with the seats down and a cover over them. It is quick, much faster than I expected and I enjoy clearing his (Nigel's) throat often. He does what the reviews state in the twistys and lives up to the hype, at least for me. I really enjoy driving him around and proudly add him to the family. For those that are engaged and attentive drivers already, this should be an easy choice for a must drive at some point in your life car, it is indeed fun. The wheels positioned at the corners, the rigid frame and transverse mounted engine make for a unique build that are just a part of this excellent equation."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful