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#25

in Used Small Cars $14K and up

Avg. Price Paid: $17,719 - $32,072
Original MSRP: $19,700 - $35,300
MPG: 29 City / 37 Hwy
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2013 MINI Cooper Performance

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

The 2013 Mini Cooper offers three engine choices, and of the three, it’s no surprise that reviewers like the John Cooper Works’ powerful 208-horsepower engine the best. Auto writers say all models are characterized by strong brakes, nimble handling and a bumpy ride.

  • "The Mini also satisfies in more mundane ways, as even the most potent version offers very good fuel economy. Its petite dimensions make the 2013 Mini Cooper an ideal companion for drivers who frequently park on congested urban streets." -- Edmunds
  • "The Base models have no surplus of power, but S and John Cooper Works versions are jackrabbit quick." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Mini Cooper offers three 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines. The base engine makes 121 horsepower. The turbocharged engine in the Cooper S makes 181 horsepower and the turbocharged engine in the John Cooper Works model makes 208 horsepower. All models have a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed automatic. All Cooper models use premium gasoline. With the automatic transmission, the base Cooper averages 28/36 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA.

Though the base Cooper makes just 121 horsepower, some think that the engine delivers enough pep to satisfy most drivers. Reviewer opinion of the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models is all-around positive. According to test drivers, these models have stronger acceleration off the line and don’t feel underpowered in freeway passing maneuvers. Reviewers like the manual transmission most. Test drivers say, however, that the automatic isn’t as refined as the manual.

  • "Most drivers will likely be plenty happy with the base Cooper, but the thrills increase with the S, while the JCW pumps up the fun quotient to full blast. With the six-speed manual transmission, you get a remarkably precise shifter and an acquiescent clutch. Shifts in the automatic aren't especially smooth, but put it in Manual mode and you're rewarded with quick responses to inputs made via the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles." -- Edmunds
  • "Base models with manual transmission are lively enough around town, but hills and highway passing demand a downshift--and some patience. Base models with automatic are a bit sleepy from a stop, but build power quickly for adequate acceleration, and the transmission kicks down promptly for more passing power." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Both engines are smooth and flexible, providing decent low-end torque. Naturally, the S zips off the line with more tenacity and it doesn't struggle to pass on the highway. The base feels a bit like it is towing an anchor, compared to the S, but the power-to-weight ratio is still acceptable given the car's 2,855 lb. curb weight." -- Left Lane News (2010)

Handling and Braking

According to car reviewers, the 2013 Mini Cooper has excellent handling dynamics that become even more engaging if you upgrade to the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models. Critics say that even the base Mini Cooper has good cornering abilities and doesn’t suffer from a lot of body lean. Reviewers agree that the Mini Cooper is certainly sporty, but say that this trait comes with a drawback: The Cooper’s suspension registers a lot of bumps in the road, creating an uncomfortable ride. Most reviewers say that braking power is excellent.

  • "The downside to its sharp handling is a firm ride that can be jarring on rough pavement." -- Edmunds
  • "JCW models top the handling chart, ranking among the best vehicles of any stripe. Minis are among the smallest cars in the U.S. but are stable even in crosswinds. They offer excellent maneuverability, thanks in part to their electrically assisted steering that offers light feel at low speeds and firms up as speed increases. Stopping control is first-rate, with fine pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "But steering was precise and the car stayed flat and mostly devoid of body lean in curves and turns. Brakes also worked strongly." -- Associated Press (2009)
  • "Steering response is instant, with good feedback and weight tuned in. This car is easy to sling around and simply to enjoy." -- AutoWeek (2011)

Next Steps: 2013 MINI Cooper

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