The quintessential small car.
BMW hit a home run when it introduced the reincarnated Mini. America’s appetite for small, fuel-efficient cars has something to do with the Mini Cooper’s success, but the fact that it’s a hoot to drive definitely doesn’t hurt. The Mini once distinguished itself in the automotive market because of its petite size, but with an increasing number of quality subcompacts on the market, the Mini now trades more on its driving dynamics and reputation as a premium small car than on its small size and fuel economy. The retro-chic Cooper continues with a center-mounted speedometer and toggle switch controls to recall the original Mini from decades past. Although it might not be the most ergonomically efficient interior, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing. The Mini is available in three body styles: a three-door hardtop, a softtop convertible, and the long-wheelbase Clubman with a set of split rear cargo doors and a half-size third door on the passenger side for easier rear-seat access. Engines come in normally aspirated and turbocharged forms, with the 208-hp John Cooper Works and limited-run GP versions epitomizing the Mini’s go-kart driving feel. As for customization options, Mini claims there are more than ten million possible combinations, so if you’ve always wanted to own a one-of-a-kind car, here’s your chance.
new for 2013
Bluetooth is now standard on all cooper models; satellite radio is a $250 option and comes with a one-year free subscription. The technology package, $1750, was revised and now includes satellite radio, passive keyless entry, and Mini connected. The premium package, also revised, costs $1250 and nets a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, automatic wipers, and automatic climate control.
ABS; corner brake control; tire pressure monitoring; and front and side air bags are standard. Side curtain air bags are standard on the cooper and cooper clubman; thorax air bags are standard on the cooper convertible. Adaptive xenon headlights, run-flat tires, and park distance control are optional.
High fun-to-drive factor
Can get expensive
Base Price Range: $20,400–$36,000
TRIM LEVELS: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works, John Cooper Works GP
BODY STYLES: Coupe, convertible, wagon, 4-passenger
ENGINES: 1.6L I-4, 121 hp, 114 lb-ft
1.6L turbo I-4, 181/208 hp, 177/192/207 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 80.0 cu ft (est.)
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 5.7/24.0 cu ft; (convertible, rear seats up/down) 6.0/23.3 cu ft; (Clubman, rear seats up/down) 9.2/32.8 cu ft