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#15

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $20,700 - $35,850
Invoice: $19,660 - $32,105
MPG: 29 City / 40 Hwy
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MINI Cooper Performance

The 2015 Mini Cooper is extraordinarily nimble and fun to drive, critics say, and while the base Mini Hardtop seems a bit sluggish to some, they agree that Mini Cooper S models have ample power.

  • "It isn't rear-wheel drive, and it's not especially fast compared to purpose-built sports cars, but the folks at MINI have managed to tune the Cooper's suspension so that it drives better than virtually any other similarly priced car, regardless of drive wheels." -- AutoTrader
  • "The Mini genuinely feels different to drive than its mainstream rivals, although the trade-off is a ride quality that often feels fidgety." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the 4 Door is certainly not hurt by the additional wheelbase." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Our time in the 2015 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Cooper S was enjoyable, and we would have loved to spend more time behind the wheel." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2 Door and 4 Door both come with a 134-horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, while the Cooper S Hardtop models have a 189-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is available. According to the EPA, both Mini Cooper Hardtop models get up to 29/40 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class.

The 2015 Mini Cooper Convertible comes standard with a 121-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Cooper S and John Cooper Works models have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 181 and 208 horsepower, respectively. All convertible trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission and are available with a six-speed automatic.

Some test drivers are pleasantly surprised by the Mini Hardtop’s pickup with the three-cylinder engine, but others think it takes the base Mini Cooper Hardtop a while to get up to speed. However, reviewers agree that the Mini Cooper S models offer strong acceleration.

  • "Whether it has a 3- or 4-cylinder engine, a base-level Cooper has always needed a little coaxing in order to pick up speed. Meanwhile, 4-cylinder Cooper S models are zippier and more eager to go fast, thanks to a broader power band and a smooth, quick-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission." -- AutoTrader
  • "Even though we didn't get the chance to stuff five people into the Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door for the duration of our test drive, the 2.0-liter turbo four feels more than up to the task." -- AutoWeek
  • "We enjoyed the strong acceleration and torque of the newest edition and, although the transmission was rather stiff, it was expected for the sporty Cooper S model." -- Motor Trend
  • "While the Cooper S' engine was predictably punchy, the big news is actually the Cooper's turbo triple, which manages to be both torquey (all 170 lb-ft come online at 1,250 rpm) and remarkably refined." -- Left Lane News (2014)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers agree that the 2015 Mini Cooper has sharp handling, responsive steering and strong brakes, and they add that the new Hardtop 4 Door model handles just as well as the smaller 2 Door. However, some note that a stiff ride is the tradeoff for the Mini Cooper’s agility.

  • "Just like the 2 Door Hardtop, the 4 Door exhibits impressive body control, with little lean in corners." -- AutoWeek
  • "As always with a Mini, the focus is on agility, and its responses have not been dulled by the addition of extra doors." -- Edmunds
  • "The Mini Hardtop 4 Door offers sharp steering, which shows its strength through tight turns and blind corners, and whenever those sudden stops came upon us, the brakes were firm and confident." -- Motor Trend
  • "One area where we might have wished for a little more refinement is in ride quality. A harsh ride has always been the Mini’s dirty little secret, the price you paid for its super-responsive handling (as well as a side effect of its run-flat tires)." -- Automobile Magazine (2014)
Review Last Updated: 4/9/15

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