2018 Convertible New Car Test Drive
There are a lot of different Mini Coopers. There's a 2-door (which might be considered a 3-door hatchback), a 4-door (or seen as a 5-door), a convertible, and a 4-door Clubman with all-wheel drive and barn doors at the rear.
The 2-door is 150.4 inches long, the 4-door is 156.8 inches, and the Clubman is 168.3 inches, the latter about the size of a four-door Volkswagen Golf.
Excepting the Clubman, the Mini Cooper is smaller and less practical than many hatchbacks that cost a lot less. Last redesigned for 2014 (when it gained several hundred pounds), it's built on the platform of the BMW X1.
We like the Hardtop 2 Door the most; it's the classic, and a delight to drive. The classic color is red with a white top. If you know who John Cooper was and are familiar with his Formula Juniors and Grand Prix racecars, you might appreciate a pair of distinctive Cooper stripes. Or maybe you'll want a Union Jack on the lid.
Engines in the mix include the standard turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder making 124 horsepower; the Cooper S with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 189 horsepowe; and the John Cooper Works version of that engine making 228 horsepower. Each uses either a 6-speed manual (which we prefer) or automatic transmission.
Very little on the Mini Cooper has changed for 2018. It gets a standard rearview camera and some package reshuffling.
With the 1.5-liter engine and 6-speed manual, the Mini Cooper gets an EPA-estimated 28/38 miles per gallon City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. Cooper S is rated 23/32/26 mpg with the manual. The powerful John Cooper Works gets 23/31/26 mpg. The Convertible S gets the same, but with automatic is rated higher (better). All Mini Coopers require Premium gasoline. Your mileage may vary, however. During our test drives, we got about 25 miles per gallon in both the Mini Cooper and Cooper S, including a lot of spirited driving through canyon twisties. Out on the interstate, we got up to 40 mpg.
The Mini Cooper got the top safety rating from the insurance industry (IIHS) in 2016, with a Top Safety Pick+. However the federal government's NHTSA doesn't agree, giving the Mini only four stars overall.
The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door ($20,950) comes with the 124-hp 1.5-liter engine; the Mini Cooper S Hardtop 2 Door ($24,400) gets the 189-hp 2.0-liter engine. The Mini Hardtop 4 Door ($21,950) is similarly equipped. Also available: the Mini Convertible ( $25,950) and the Mini Clubman ($24,100).
Standard equipment includes a 6.5-inch center screen, Bluetooth, 15-inch wheels (16-inch on Cooper S), faux leather, eight airbags, and the rearview camera in 2018. Options are grouped into packages. The sport package ($1750) features adjustable dampers that sharpen the ride.
Much customization is available and adds to the fun. Eight choices in upholstery, and trims with Mini Yours finishes, like Fiber Alloy or the Off-White that's like porcelain.