The 2018 Mini Cooper: Little Car, Big Performance

The 2018 Mini Cooper: Little Car, Big Performance

Posted on Friday, May 25, 2018

It’s sleek, it’s fun, but is it practical?

Ever since the Mini Cooper first returned in 2000, courtesy of BMW, the cute, cheerful little cars have been zipping through cities and over highways. And with a new 2018 Mini, the question for drivers is whether the little guy is worth it. Whether or not it is comes down to how much you like style and handling versus practicality.

The Mini Cooper: The Pros

BMW revived the brand nearly two decades ago as sort of a luxury small car to complement its line of sedans, SUVs, and other “big” cars. The original Mini, one of the stars of beloved heist film “The Italian Job,” was enormously popular for its small size, tight handling, and adorable looks. BMW kept all three, and it’s more or less stayed the same since the dot-com boom era.

The Mini has a three-cylinder engine, starting at 134 horsepower, but it’s incredibly light, starting at just over a ton, so that lack of power isn’t something you’ll notice. BMW has tweaked the handling over the years as well, making it so responsive even a getaway driver would be giddy. But if you want some oomph behind the steering, a four-cylinder uping the horsepower to 228 is available. It’s not going to win you any races on a quarter-mile, but take it on a curvy road and you’ll fall in love.

And, of course, it looks like nothing else on the road. Available in two-door, four-door, convertible, and a hatchback-esque model called the “Clubman,” the Mini Cooper is instantly recognizable. If you want to swing around cities and head out with a small group of friends, it’s a stylish ride.

The Mini handles like a dream, but it’s got a lot of competition.

The Mini Cooper: The Cons

The Mini’s big problem is that handling and style come at a cost of things like cargo room and practical considerations. There’s no shortage of zippy hatchbacks out there, such as the Honda Fit and the Nissan Versa, and while those aren’t going to turn as many heads, they are also designed for urban living. The Clubman has the most cargo space, but it pales in both amount of room and ease of use compared to its more practical competitors. In fact, the convertible will barely have room for an overnight bag, forget what you need for a long trip.

That brings us to the second big knock against the little car: Price. The Mini is a tiny luxury car, and while $21,600 isn’t pricey for a BMW, other hatchbacks start thousands of dollars cheaper.

Who Is The Mini Cooper For?

The Mini Cooper is ultimately designed to meet the needs of urban dwellers who want both a small car that can handle traffic and hard turns, and also a status symbol along the lines of a BMW. It wants to be the Lexus RX of tiny cars, content to let the other hatchbacks be the city version of a station wagon or a minivan. So, if your main concern is handling, having fun with your friends, and looking good behind the wheel, the Mini is for you. But don’t be surprised if it comes up short when those friends need your help moving. Need more help picking the right car? Start with the research from CarFoundMe!