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#19

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $19,950 - $35,300
Invoice: $18,355 - $32,475
MPG: N/A
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MINI Cooper Performance

Test drivers say the new 2014 Mini Cooper hardtop is incredibly nimble. Sharp steering and athletic cornering ability make for a lot of fun behind the wheel, reviewers note, though some mention that the ride quality is fairly firm. Reviewers agree that with its turbocharged three-cylinder engine, the base Cooper hardtop has adequate acceleration from a stop. Many add that the more powerful Cooper S and convertible-only John Cooper Works trims offer livelier acceleration. It's fun to row the gears on the standard six-speed manual transmission, they say, which has short throws, and the shifts are well-timed in the automatic transmission, they add.

  • "Most drivers will likely be plenty happy with the base Cooper, especially the energetic new hatchback. But the thrills increase with the S, while the JCW Mini convertible simply pegs the fun-o-meter." -- Edmunds
  • "The automatic provided quick, crisp shifts, and we appreciate that MINI has adopted the proper left-to-downshift, right-to-upshift paddle shifter setup, but we expect that many enthusiasts will want to stick with the stick shift due to its fluid action and well-executed rev-matching." -- Left Lane News
  • "… the manual worked flawlessly with short, smooth throws. In fact, I first thought that my test vehicle had a four-cylinder engine, because of the torquey goodness it offered me." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Mini Cooper hardtop comes with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The Mini Cooper S has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is available. The base Mini Cooper hardtop gets 29/41 mpg city/highway with an automatic transmission, which is excellent for the class.

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

Reviewers say the Mini Cooper hardtop’s base three-cylinder engine sounds polished and offers adequate pep off the line, while the four-cylinder engine in the S trim makes acceleration faster and livelier. Auto writers like the Mini Cooper hardtop’s slick manual transmission, saying it’s easy to shift and has a light clutch pedal. They also praise the automatic for its quick, smooth shifts.

  • "We drove the manual version, which also benefits from a new gearbox with short throws and very positive shift action. After the unpleasant clutch take-up we experienced in our Four Seasons Mini Countryman, we were very pleased by the easy modulation in our test example here." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "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. Additionally, to our ears, it was more melodious than the four, with a noise not unlike that of a V6. Both boosted motors felt nearly lag-free, and their stop/start systems seemed much better realized than some of BMW's previous efforts, which could be quite uncouth when re-starting the engine." -- Left Lane News
  • "Even on a flat, acceleration is never what you'd call thrilling, although the engine with its single-scroll turbo never sounds bad or labored.” -- Car and Driver
  • "The additional power in the Cooper S is quite noticeable. The new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine creates 192 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, which can jump to 221 pound feet in overboost. This car gets up and goes, with Mini saying the automatic will go 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are pleased to report that the all-new 2014 Mini Cooper hardtop has incredibly sharp steering, snappy handling and hugs curves with confidence, making it a lot of fun behind the wheel. Some critics add that the Cooper has a firm ride, though many write that parking in tight spaces is a breeze.

  • "Steering response is even more immediate than before, and ample feedback from the tiller provides the driver with the confidence to fully exploit the quicker turn-in. The chassis is composed, planted and balanced to the degree that - heretical though such a sentiment may seem - we're suddenly not as worried about BMW's plans to use this front-wheel-drive platform in place of a rear-wheel-drive setup in several of its future models." -- Left Lane News
  • "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
  • "What hasn't changed is the spunky and agile nature of this little runabout that makes it such a blast to drive, even when you're just running errands. And it's still one of the smallest cars you can buy, so the Mini remains a snap to park." -- Edmunds
  • "Better yet, with both vehicles, the new chassis responds to every input with ease. The steering is tight and allows for aggressive driving, but it is not overly tight. Both cars jump into corners and hold their lines extremely well. The new spring-and-damper set-up allows for the Mini to maintain its body much better, instead of swaying too much." -- Motor Trend
Review Last Updated: 5/13/14

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