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#13

in 2009 Affordable Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $10,454 - $18,389
Original MSRP: $18,550 - $34,300
MPG: 28 City / 37 Hwy

2009 MINI Cooper Interior

This interior review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Cooper's four-seat cabin has good and bad points. On the plus side, its configurable cabin makes the most of what appears to be a limited amount of space for cargo, plus its cabin materials are among the highest quality in the class. But there are also numerous complaints that its gauges are more fashionable than functional, and even jaded test drivers have trouble figuring the dashboard out. In addition, the Mini Cooper's rear seats are not recommended for normal-sized passengers.

  • "On the interior the 2009 Mini Cooper is full of comfort, style and class." -- Associated Content
  • "Inside, things are standard Cooper S fare: The car comes with grippy cloth seats as well as standard piano-black dash trim and an athracite headliner." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The interior comes as a letdown. It's still surprisingly spacious inside and the overall design is more original than anything you'll find for $20,000, but the detailing leaves us cold." -- Edmunds
  • "You'll probably love, then hate, then learn to enjoy the cockpit. The switchgear looks great and the top center console controls mimic the winged MINI logo. But then: The easily reached knob in the speedometer cluster you believe is volume actually changes channels." -- Technoride

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Front Seats

Even as one of the smallest cars in the class, the Mini Cooper offers an unexpected amount of room for the front row, as long as seats are positioned far enough back.

  • "Having had the experience of driving 5000 miles in 15 days ... I can attest to the surprising comfort of the seats and driving position of the car. ... For a car that has the smallest exterior of any four-passenger car on the road, the MINI is surprisingly spacious inside. Even a six foot, five-inch driver will be comfortable in the front seat." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "There's a lot of legroom up front with the seats back. A six-foot, four-inch tall fellow auto reviewer told me he can actually fit in the driver's seat of a Mini Cooper, which is amazing when you look at the car from outside and see how small it is." -- BusinessWeek

Rear Seats

Although there are generally low expectations for the rear row of most small cars, auto writers seem to find the Mini Cooper's back seats particularly unpleasant.

  • "In the hatchback, there's sufficient headroom and seat width for two adults, but the outside armrests are awkwardly shaped, restricting elbowroom. Knee space is tight even with front seats set back partially; it disappears with them fully rearward. The convertible is even narrower, which restricts shoulder room, and the seatback is more upright, which reduces comfort. In both, small footwells restrict movement and comfort, and become unusable if the front cushions aren't raised high enough to clear toes. Furthermore, ingress and egress are crouch-and-crawl affairs." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It will forever be a two-seater in my mind. My 6-foot-4-inch frame had no problem wedging into the driver's seat and the front passenger seat. But as for those two back seats ... puh-leeze! Two squirrels would develop claustrophobia within minutes." -- Sacramento Bee
  • "The Mini's back seats don't have the same leg and shoulder room as the rear seats of the New Beetle and the Eos. ... Still, at 5-foot-4, I could sit in the back of the Mini without my knees being jammed into the front seatbacks, provided the front seats were pushed forward a bit on their tracks." -- The Associated Press

Interior Features

The 2009 Mini Cooper's interior is high on quality materials, but the retro cockpit controls remain a point of contention.

  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Higher-quality materials high levels of build quality, cachet, personality." -- Motor Trend
  • "BMW is hanging on too long with retro design features of the British Mini. Dashboard switches and knobs and radio controls should be easier to use. It took me 10 minutes to figure out how to use the radio." -- MSN
  • "Some of the interior design pushes the limit of cuteness, such as the enormous speedometer in the center of the dashboard. This lunch-plate-size disc integrates audio readout, Bluetooth controls and a circular fuel gauge that clicks off amounts used almost like plucking the petals of a daisy." -- Bend Weekly
  • "The large, center-mounted speedometer forces drivers to divert their eyes from the road, though hatchbacks and Clubmans offer a small, redundant digital speedometer in the tachometer face; the tachometer sits atop the steering column, partially blocked from view." -- Consumer Guide

Stereo and Entertainment

In keeping with its youthful appearance and target demographic, the Mini Cooper offers cutting edge audio options. The Cooper's optional Audio Package comes with a 10-speaker audio upgrade, HD radio and lifetime subscription to satellite radio. But some reviewers were even impressed with the standard six-speaker stereo's quality, even if they did find the controls too stylish to be useful.

  • "Although out Mini came with the six-speaker standard stereo system, we were impressed by the audio quality. It is certainly not the best we've ever heard, but the speakers produce a strong, rich sound." -- CNET
  • "There are fiddly little buttons everywhere. I found a few more each time I looked. The volume control for the radio is nowhere near the tuning knob. I am thirty-one years old, and I can operate an iPod blindfolded, but these controls I find baffling." -- Automobile Magazine

Navigation

Among the 2009 Mini Cooper's optional features is a navigation system with real-time traffic information and extended voice control. Few reviewers actually tested its capabilities, but voiced opinions just the same.

  • "No hatchbacks or Clubmans tested had the navigation system, but on convertibles, its screen replaces the speedometer in the dashboard and moves the speedometer to the steering column." -- Consumer Guide
  • "I'll hazard a guess and say navigation won't be a MINI Cooper strength. MINIs use the same Siemens-VDO technology as BMW, where it has been criticized by users for its stiff learning curve and has helped drag down BMW's reputation in some J.D. Power surveys. To be fair, it's pretty good once you've got directions programmed in." -- Technoride

Cargo

The Mini Cooper still only offers 5.7 cubic feet of cargo space with rear seats up. But space increases drastically to 24 cubic feet once the 50/50-split rear seats are folded down. Uncommon for a convertible trim, the last model year's Cooper drop-top had more space: 9.2 cubic feet with rear seats up, and 32.8 cubic feet of available space with the 50/50 split seats folded.

  • "Hatchbacks have a small but useful space behind the rear seat. That area is slightly larger on the Clubman, as is the space opened up when the rear seatbacks are folded. ... The convertible has a drop-down 'tailgate' that results in a small aperture, but the opening can be enlarged by lifting the lower edge of the top. Trunk room is fairly good for a convertible, and the rear seatbacks can be folded for more space." -- Consumer Guide
  • "More than enough for luggage space for two passengers for a two-week trip." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book