By KBB.com Editors
Although the MINI line-up, comprised of the Cooper and Cooper S, underwent a major redo last year, it's hard to see the changes until you get up close. 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, distinctive styling and more interior space than its small exterior dimensions might 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 2008 MINI Cooper is for you. It combines excellent handling and charming looks with a remarkable level of options 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.
No major changes for 2008.
Driving Impressions Its light, easy-to-use clutch, responsive steering and quick-shifting transmission make commuting in the 2008 MINI a blast. 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 from 1600 to 5000 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 car that's easy and livable during daily drives, yet with all the sporting flair you'd want 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 up to let rear-seat passengers enjoy the breeze.
The MINI Cooper's interior is truly one-of-a-kind, with backlit armrests in the doors, handsomely sewn seats and a bold dash featuring a huge center-mounted speedometer. 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. The 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 2008 MINI Cooper's body looks similar to that of the previous generation 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 hood to accommodate new European pedestrian crash standards. Despite the changes, the latest Cooper 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 is 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 2008 MINI Cooper's standard equipment includes a 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. Standard safety features include Electronic Stability Program (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and six airbags.
The MINI Cooper and Cooper S can be outfitted with numerous 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 2008 MINI Cooper and Cooper S both have 1.6-liter in-line four-cylinder engines. Power in the Cooper is acceptable, but the turbocharged Cooper S engine is a powerhouse, with 177 pound-feet of maximum continuous torque from 1600 to 5000 rpm, and an "overboost" feature that temporarily increases engine torque to 191 pound-feet for extra bursts of acceleration. An easy-shifting six-speed manual transmission, or the optional automatic, allow either engine to operate in its ideal rpm range, 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: 28/37 (manual), 26/34 (automatic)
1.6-liter in-line 4 turbocharged
172 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34 (manual), 23/32 (automatic)
By uberpixi on Tuesday, April 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "cute, fun to drive, reliable, great engine, safe"
Cons: "i can feel bumps in the road more than my other ca"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Only think i don't like is the feel of the road. There are a lot of potholes where i live and i feel them more in this car than my last car."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Sue on Saturday, March 22, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Mechanical problems
Cons: "Mechanical nightmare"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought brand new. Chain tensioner issues began at 5k. Valve job at 24k. Fuel pump and thermostat replacement. New motor at 54k. Expensive to fix and not reliable. I will never own another BMW product."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Doug on Friday, March 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 95,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Really fun to drive"
Cons: "Eceptionally expensive to fix"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Really enjoyed this car-fun to drive, pretty good gas mileage, quiet even with the top down. But, at 95000, the transmission went out. Dealer says $8500 for a replacement. My son bought the same car at the same time. His main computer went out with 38000 miles. A $3000 repair. I won't be buying another."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Rob M on Monday, March 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "GO-Kart feel, sophisticated"
Cons: "poor suspension(standard), thermostat issues"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I love my MINI, so lets get that out of the way. The handling is ridiculous and the fun factor really speaks for itself when driving a MINI. This is my second MINI. I've owned a 2008 Cooper and now this 2011 Cooper S for three years. It's had it's share of ups and downs. The great part has been driving this car on vacation averaging 35mpg combined. The bad part has been the quality of the parts on the car made. I've had a thermostat that needed to be changed at 24k miles, 50k miles rear sway bar endlinks replaced(OEM parts stink), and 54k miles the valve cover needed to be replaced. There are some squeaks and weird rattles that occur at times, you would think for a $27K car it wouldn't be an issue but it is. My friends Focus, 200, and Escape has better quality than poorly made suspension on the car. I love my MINI, but it has been a love-hate relationship. I'm at my whits with this car, I'm thinking of fixing the rattle from the suspension. But I'm also thinking of trading it in for a 135i this summer."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Randy on Sunday, March 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast, fun car. Great convenience features"
Cons: "Tires are run flats and don't last long."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Third mini. Liked them all. Turbo gets better gas mileage than 2005 w/supercharger. Timing chain guides backed out but all under warranty. Left front brake caliper seized and required new one as well as new rotors and pads. Need to keep close tabs on engine oil. Electronics very reliable."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Lucy on Saturday, March 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price. Fun to drive. Reliable. Comfortable."
Cons: "Back seat & cargo space"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"No reliability issues. Great performance. Have 6-speed and love it - excellent acceleration. Exterior paint looks like new & it's a 2008. Have driven cross country and back in great comfort. Takes the winds in Oklahoma like they are not there. Front seats very comfortable. Climate control excellent. This wonderful vehicle is a 1-2 person auto. The only disadvantage is cargo room - hate having to put down back seat to have space for excess cargo transport. Difficult to access back seats from front doors and the back seats basically serve no purpose except to transport pets - they, however, must enter from rear of car. 'Course I recognized this when I purchased the Mini. I STILL LOVE THE CAR!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful