Sporty/performance car; Built in England
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 3-door coupe
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $4,400 – $27,900*


2008 Mini Cooper


2008 Mini Cooper


2008 Mini Cooper


2008 Mini Cooper


2008 Mini Cooper Clubman


2008 Mini Cooper Clubman


2011 Mini Cooper Clubman Front


2011 Mini Cooper Clubman Rear


2011 Mini Cooper Clubman Interior


2012 Mini Cooper Coupe Front


2012 Mini Cooper Coupe Rear


2012 Mini Cooper Coupe Profile


2012 Mini Cooper Roadster Front


2012 Mini Cooper Roadster Rear


2012 Mini Cooper Roadster Profile


2012 Mini Cooper Roadster Interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (Cooper S with manual transmission)
  • Fuel economy
  • Handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room (convertibles)
  • Control layout
  • Noise
  • Rear-seat comfort (except Clubman)
  • Ride

Minis may look like economy cars, but these Recommended picks are actually sporty driving machines. Base models have no surplus of power, but S versions are quick, and all handle with the agility of a sports car. Ride comfort is a sore point-almost literally. So is rear-seat room, except in the Clubman. In convertibles, add awful top-up visibility and limited cargo space. Demerits aside, Minis are reasonably priced when new (less so secondhand), brim with character, and have been available with a dizzying array of personalizing accessories. Quality issues have surfaced with recent models, which weren’t so evident when the Mini first debuted.

Overview

Sporty performance has been the byword for the modern-day Minis since they debuted as 2002 models. Mini Cooper hatchbacks were redesigned for 2007, gaining slightly more power and marginally larger dimensions. Convertibles continued for 2007 using the 2002-2006 generation design. All Minis had four-cylinder engines. Base hatchbacks had 118 horsepower; performance-oriented S hatchbacks were turbocharged, developing 172 hp. Convertible ratings were slightly lower: 115 hp for the base model and a supercharged 168-hp engine for the S model. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on all but the base convertible, which had a five-speed manual. New for 2007 was a six-speed automatic, which replaced a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) as an option on all but the base convertible.

Antilock braking was standard, and an antiskid system was optional. S models had a functional hood scoop and a sport suspension. Hatchbacks contained front side airbags and curtain side airbags. Convertibles had front side airbags that provided head and torso protection. They also had a power fabric top with a heated glass rear window, plus standard rear obstacle detection and a “sunroof” mode that opened the top only above the front seats. Newly optional for convertibles was a Sidewalk package that included unique alloy wheels plus upgraded interior and exterior trim. A wireless cell phone link was a hatchback-exclusive option. BMW owns Mini, and Coopers were sold at most major-market BMW dealerships. Minis were in a class by themselves, but possible rivals might include such disparate models as the Scion tC and Volkswagen New Beetle, or even the Ford Mustang.

Yearly Updates

2008 Cooper
Convertibles retained the 2002-07 design and hatchbacks were virtually unchanged. Added midyear was the Clubman, which had a three-inch-longer wheelbase and was nine inches longer overall. It featured a third door on the passenger side to ease access to the roomier rear seat, along with side-hinged rear cargo doors in place of a hatch lid.
2009 Cooper
The convertible was redesigned along the lines of the new-for 2007 hatchback and featured a power fabric top with a heated-glass rear window and a “sunroof” mode that opened the top above the front seats. In addition to the standard black, the top was newly offered in brown and blue. Also new were high-performance John Cooper Works models with a 208-hp version of the hatchback’s turbocharged four along with beefier brakes, a performance suspension, specific exhaust tuning, and 17-inch wheels.
2010 Cooper
The 2010 Mini Cooper saw no signifigant changes.
2011 Cooper
The 2011 Mini Cooper lineup saw several changes, including freshened styling, slightly more power, and new convenience features.
2012 Cooper
Joining the Cooper family for 2012 were the coupe and roadster, both seating just two passengers. They were offered in the same Base, S, and John Cooper Works versions as the hatchback and Clubman. These models are covered in a separate review.
2013 Cooper
Mini shuffled available features and special-edition packages most every year, and 2013 was no different. This season brought Bluetooth wireless connectivity as standard instead of optional, satellite radio as optional instead of standard, revised audio controls, a self-adjusting clutch, and automatic transmission as a first-time option for the racy John Cooper Works (JCW) model. Also making news was the return of a limited-edition John Cooper Works GP edition aimed primarily at well-heeled weekend racers. Besides all this, 2013 base Hardtops offered three new trim/equipment packages called Baker Street (as in Sherlock Holmes’ address), Bayswater (named for a fashionable part of London), and Mini Green/Hyde Park. The Highgate appearance package was available exclusively for base and S convertibles and named for the tony London neighborhood that many celebrities call home.
2014 Cooper
The traditional Cooper hardtop/hatchback model was redesigned for 2014, but the convertible continued using the same design as the 2009-2013 models.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

In base Cooper hatchbacks, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine develops 118 horsepower. Either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission may be installed. Early base convertible had 115 hp and a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Cooper S hatchbacks hold a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter engine, rated at 172 horsepower (181 starting in 2011) and mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Early S convertibles used a supercharged engine generating 168 hp, but adopted the S hatchback’s 1.6-liter turbo for 2009. John Cooper Works models have a 208-hp version of the 1.6 turbo.

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 115
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 110
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
CVT automatic
27/35
26/33
27.6

dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 118-121
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 114
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
32/40
30/37
Supercharged dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 168
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
25/32
23/32
Turbocharged dohc I41
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 172-181
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
29/36
27/34
Turbocharged dohc I42
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.6/98
Engine HP 208
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 192
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

1. EPA Note: Figures shown are for 2008 models. The Environmental Protection Agency changed its procedure for 2008 to yield more realistic estimates. Therefore, estimated mileage is lower than for prior years. 2. John Cooper Works models.

Road Test

Hatchback or convertible, base models with manual shift are lively enough around town, but hills and highway passing demand a downshift-and some patience. Base hatchbacks with automatic are a bit sleepy from a stop, but power builds quickly for adequate acceleration, and the transmission kicks down promptly for more passing power. Turning to S models, the hatchback’s turbocharged engine suffers some lag at low speeds, but impressive power arrives quickly. Mini said it could reach 60 mph in 6.7 seconds with the manual transmission. The automatic transmission in the Cooper S is smooth and quick to downshift for passing. Power delivery from the early S convertible’s supercharged engine is more linear, but it doesn’t feel quite as strong; that model got the S hatchback’s 1.6 turbo for 2009. John Cooper Works models are little screamers.

Fuel economy is a Mini bonus. A base convertible with manual gearbox averaged 27.6 mpg. An S version averaged a commendable 32.3 mpg in mostly highway driving. Cooper S hatchbacks have averaged 28.4 to 32.7 mpg. Mini recommends premium-grade fuel for all engines.

All Minis suffer a stiff, choppy ride over anything but glass-smooth pavement. Base models ride better than S and John Cooper Works versions, and hatchbacks are slightly better than convertibles. However, only the John Cooper Works and an S with optional 17-inch tires is truly harsh over bumps.

Top-notch handlers, Minis virtually turn on a dime with outstanding steering response. Even base models corner with little body lean. Cooper S versions take handling to an even higher level, especially with the optional 17-inch wheels, and it goes up another notch in the John Cooper Works. Both rank with the best sports cars. Minis are among the smallest cars in the U.S., but are stable even in crosswinds. Expect excellent maneuverability, especially with the hatchback’s electrically assisted steering that offers light feel at low speeds but firms up as speed increases. Stopping control is first-rate, with fine pedal feel.

Engines are smooth and fairly quiet while cruising, and they sing beautifully under full throttle. Wind and road noise grow intrusive at highway speeds, particularly with 16- and 17-inch tires. Loud wind buffeting occurs on the highway from the open “sunroof” in the convertible’s top.

Controls are not always a successful balance of retro style and functionality. The large center-mounted speedometer forces the driver to divert eyes from the road, though hatchbacks include a small, redundant digital speedometer in the tachometer face. The tachometer sits atop the steering column, partially blocked from view. In convertibles, the available navigation screen replaces the speedometer in the dashboard and moves the speedometer to the steering column. In hatchbacks, it’s mounted in the central speedometer face. Retro-style toggle switches controlling power windows, locks, and fog lamps are mounted inconveniently low on the dashboard. Audio and climate controls are within easier reach, but poorly marked. Temperature and fan settings are difficult to adjust in hatchbacks. Convertible tops provide fully automatic one-touch operation. Interiors are a distinctive, complex blend of colors, shapes, and textures, all with solid workmanship.

Generous front-seat travel and a high ceiling accommodate even large occupants, but the convertible’s wide center console restricts kneeroom for taller drivers. The hatchback’s narrower console provides more space. Seats are firm and supportive, but too low for best entry/exit. Both front seats have height adjustment. Hatchback visibility is great in all directions. Top down, the convertible’s rearward visibility is hindered by the top stack, rear headrests, and roll bar. Top up, it’s severely restricted-a deficit only partly offset at low speed by the standard rear-obstacle-detection system.

Backseats in regular models provide sufficient headroom and seat width for two adults, but knee space is tight even with front seats only halfway back. Space disappears with those seats fully rearward. Shoebox-sized footwells restrict movement and comfort, and are unusable if front cushions aren’t raised high enough to clear toes. Outside armrests are awkwardly shaped. Expect crouch-and-crawl entry/exit, except in the Clubman, which offers considerably more space for rear occupants.

Hatchbacks have small but useful space behind the rear seat. Convertibles have a small tailgate-style slot that serves as a trunk opening. On both, the rear seatback folds 50/50, but sections rest several inches above the load floor. Clubman back doors add a whimsical look to the car and open neatly to each side. On all models, cockpit storage is meager.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Cooper S hatchback w/manual

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 7
70%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 9
90%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 5
50%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 53

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.1 146.6 66.3 55.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
6.0 13.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.4 38.5 41.7 29.3
2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
97.1 146.6 66.3 55.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
24.0 13.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 37.6 41.7 27.9
3-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
100.3 155.9 66.3 56.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
32.8 13.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.0 37.7 41.4 32.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Mini Cooper 2-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 4
80%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine noise
Description: A whistling noise from the engine compartment may be due to a defective water pump. (2009)
Engine noise
Description: Weak tensioner spring and wear can result in rattling noise from timing chain after cold start or while engine is idling. (2009-13)
Manual transmission
Description: The 5-speed manual transmission may be difficult to shift through the neutral gate due to corrosion of the cables or gearshift unit. (2008)
Poor drivability
Description: Restriction of oil supply to turbocharger can result in the turbocharger seizing which creates noise or loss of performance. (2007-13)
Steering problems
Description: Software glitch can cause intermittent loss of power-steering assist and illuminate the electric power steering warning light. (2013)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: The sunroof shades may drift open or closed due to insufficient friction in the guides. (2007)
Sunroof/moonroof
Description: The sunroof may not open in warm (above 90 degrees F) temperatures due to the channels squeezing the glass and/or lack of grease. (2009-10)
Transmission leak
Description: Transmission fluid may leak, and the car will not move if too much leaks from the transmission input shaft seal. (2007)
Water leak
Description: Water may leak onto the floor after a heavy rain unless improved door seals were installed. (2007)
Windows
Description: The power windows may malfunction in several ways requiring a software upgrade and/or cleaning corrosion in electrical connectors in the A-pillars. (2008-09)
Windshield washer
Description: Washer fluid may leak from the rear nozzle, and possibly front nozzles, requiring one-way check valves installed in the fluid lines. (2007)
Headlights
Description: The headlights may flicker or move up and down unless the wiring is repaired where it chafes on the ground connection. (2006-09)
None
Description: Knocking noises from the front, rear or both may be due to a problem with the sway bar bushings. (2007)
None
Description: The engine may not crank, and the electric steering lock symbol may illuminate if the steering wheel is jammed; turning it slightly solves the problem. (2007)
Transmission problems
Description: The transmission selector may be hard to move from park to drive or reverse, the transmission may shift harshly and the transmission warning light may blink due to chafing of the transmission wiring harness on the transmission or elsewhere. (2009)

Recall History

2007 Cooper S convertible
Description: The tire pressure information label indicates incorrect tire pressure for the tires mounted on the vehicle, which does not comply with a Federal standard.
2007-08 Cooper S
Description: The centrally located tailpipe extension protrudes slightly beyond the rear bumper and inadvertent contact may occur with a person’s leg. If the tailpipe is hot when contact occurs, the person’s leg can be burned.
2007-2011 Cooper S
Description: Electric auxiliary water pump that cools the turbocharger can malfunction and overheat.
2009 JCW (John Cooper Works) and JCW Clubman
Description: Reduced brake performance could increase the risk of a crash.
2009-2011 Cooper S and JCW convertibles
Description: Electric auxiliary water pump that cools the turbocharger can malfunction and overheat.
2010 Cooper w/17-inch wheels
Description: The affected vehicles were equipped with 17-inch wheels, but their label states that they were equipped with 16-inch wheels.
2010 Cooper S with 17-inch wheels
Description: The tire pressure stated on the label for the Cooper S may be incorrect. Erroneous tire information could lead to improper tire fitment and inflation; which could affect the durability of the tire and the stability of the vehicle.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.