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 Odd Job on Saturday, September 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "a bit bumpy,on these type of roads"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have always purchased new vehicles.This one out of the eight others has been the most reliable,safest and by far most fun to drive.I'm comparing to a couple of performance cars that I previously owned."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Randolph on Thursday, September 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I had to replace engine and Turbo charger in the first year of ownership,less that a few months after the warranty had expired. Other that that , I love the size and handling the ease of acceleration, and cornering capabilities. Fun to drive"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By sst on Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great on gas, very comfortable"
Cons: "backseat leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This has been a very reliable car and is very fun to drive. I've had several cars and this one is probably my favorite. Its quick, very nimble, great on gas and very comfortable."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Louise on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "cute, fun to drive, unique"
Cons: "low reputation for reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This is a beautiful convertible--black exterior, black rims, and black leather interior. It is a turbo-charged, manual transmission beauty that is very fun to drive. The drive is a little rough sometimes due to the tight suspension, but overall I love zipping around town in this vehicle."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Will Miss My Mini on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,100overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun drive, cute appearance, 3 years free maint."
Cons: "Depreciation, high maint costs after 3 years"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I love driving my little Mini Coop Convertible, but next month I will have had it 2 years and it has depreciated so much that I just want to get rid of it. I understand that new cars depreciate significantly as soon as you take ownership, but I did research and Minis seem to depreciate at a higher rate than many many other vehicles. I have the lowest interest rate Mini offered in 2012 and have paid a great deal on the car and I will still be upside down by roughly $2k. I've kept up with the value on them for the past 6 months and my car with normal mileage has depreciated by $1,500 in just those 6 months. I talked to a Mini salesperson and even though he tried to make excuses as to why I would be upside down on a trade-in, he really didn't seem to have a single explanation as to why the car lost so much value so quickly. I've also done some research into after free maintenance/warranty maintenance costs and they are totally outrageous. Oil changes are high even for synthetics and a new battery is over $300 when installed at the dealership. I was going to purchase another Mini but after all of this information came to light, I can't justify the purchase. You're significantly upside down if you keep the car less than 3-4 years but if you keep it after the 3 years free maintenance, then you end up paying super high costs for regular upkeep. I feel a little trapped, so the best option I can see is to just be a little disappointed about not having my fun little car and buy a car that holds its value a little better and has reasonable maintenance costs."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By JRM2 on Thursday, August 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, economy, comfort, looks"
Cons: "Size for 3 or more"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"By far the most fun car for the money on the road. Great traveling car, particularly on the "twisties". Very stimulating driving sensation. More GO than most of us can or will ever use. Unbeleviably roomy and comfortable for two - even for 6+ footers. Late 1980's Porsche Carrarea performance in a spiffy 2010 econo-box. One of the truly great and memorable cars of this era."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful