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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
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2009 MINI Cooper Performance

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

Reviewers had fun driving the Mini Cooper, especially the turbocharged S trim. 

  • "These cars handle like karts, shift like BMWs, and get along pretty briskly -- especially in the high-performance versions." -- Car and Driver
  • "The base models have no surplus of power, but S versions are quick, and all handle with the agility of a sports car." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's fun to drive, with handling worthy of a product made by BMW (BMWG), yet it gets phenomenal gas mileage." -- BusinessWeek

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood, the 2009 Mini Cooper packs a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 118 horsepower in the base model. However, the 172 horsepower turbocharged engine in the Cooper S earns the most attention, especially when matched to the standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission is also available. The Cooper receives an EPA-estimated 28/37 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 25/34 mpg with the automatic. The Cooper S earns 26/34 mpg with a manual and 23/32 mpg with the automatic. Premium fuel is recommended.

  • "Forget the supercharger whine, because it's been replaced by the smooth swoosh of the twin-scroll turbocharger. If there's turbo lag, we aren't feeling it. ... when it comes to delivering performance and a little environmental street cred, the Mini Cooper S is streets ahead, the future of driving fast." -- Edmunds
  • "In the turbocharged form with direct fuel injection as used in the Cooper S that we drove, the engine gives the car very sporting performance. The 175 horsepower is more than adequate in the lightweight Mini to produce speeds twice most legal limits, but the 177 pound-feet of torque, which can be overboosted to 190 pound-feet for short intervals, and is available from 1700 rpm to 5000 rpm, is nothing short of marvelous." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Peak power may arrive a bit later than on the Cooper S, but you'll never notice. Turbo boost seems to be available any time you need it. And in the lower gears, it's more than enough. It's an absolute blast, and you hot-shoe around town completely guilt-free -- knowing even the hottest Mini of them all sips fuel." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers enjoy driving the Mini Cooper. They find that the car has lively handling that contributes to a pleasing driving experience. The Cooper's electric power steering is responsive and a good upgrade from the previous hydraulic steering system. The brakes are strong. The Cooper S model is a particular favorite on test drives, though some find its steering a little too reactive.

  • "Any vestige of base-model sponge is gone in the S. There is precious little roll and no residual bounce going over bumps." -- AutoWeek
  • "Electric steering usually guarantees there will be previous little information transmitted to the driver about what those front tires are doing. But that's simply not the case here. The steering is quick and direct, with the weighting you might expect from the BMW-owned company." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The ride in the test car, a base model without sport suspension, bordered on firm to stiff. On pothole-scarred roads, the car jolted over bumps and passengers noticed crisp impacts when it traveled over a series of highway expansion cracks. Railroad tracks can be jarring, too." -- The Associated Press
  • "Minis are among the smallest cars in the U.S. but are stable even in crosswinds. They offer excellent maneuverability, especially with the electrically assisted steering in hatchbacks and Clubmans that offers light feel at low speeds and firms up as speed increases. Stopping control is first-rate, with fine pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Brakes seem up to the task of hard driving on the road." -- The Auto Channel

Next Steps: 2009 MINI Cooper

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