3/4 Front Glamour
MPG 27 City / 36 Highway
Pros
  • Sharp go-kart-like handling
  • Strong acceleration with turbocharged engines
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Good outward visibility
Cons
  • Almost harsh ride in performance models
  • Limited rear seat space
, Automotive Editor -
Any MINI offers a satisfying blend of economy, personality, fun and performance.

Introduction

A new generation of MINI has hit the streets, but you would hardly know it by looking at the iconic hatchback's 2013 edition. Traditional styling cues present for the past 50 years remain intact and as appealing as ever. To be sure, the MINI Cooper has been freshened inside and out, but that has not altered the car's distinctive character: Changes are subtle, evolutionary, and completely loyal to the original MINI design.

A 121 horsepower 1.6-liter four, matched to a six-speed manual transmission or optional automatic, powers the base Cooper. Fuel economy is good either way: 32 mpg with the stick or 31 mpg with the automatic in combined city and highway driving. These are not the stellar mileage numbers of some small cars, but for a gas-powered car that hits 60 mph in 8.3 seconds (9.5 with auto), the Cooper is a highly efficient machine. The generous 13.2-gallon gas tank combines with a 37 mpg highway rating to give the MINI an impressive range of 488 miles.

When you're not on the open road, the petite dimensions and virtual absence of overhang take the stress out of parking and urban traffic. As expected, cargo space is limited to a few grocery bags when the rear seat is up: just 5.7 cubic feet. But with the seat down, 24 cubic feet provide enough space to accommodate a couple's luggage on a long trip.

The available Premium 1 package adds an alarm system, heated power folding mirrors, heated window washer jets, chrome interior trim, auto dimming rear- and side-view mirrors, rear parking sensors, automatic air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic headlamps. There's also a Sport package with a choice of three 16-inch wheel designs, fog lamps, traction control, a rear spoiler, sport seats, and hood stripes.

Moving up to the Cooper S gets you a turbocharged version of the 1.6 liter four-cylinder and a boost to 181 horsepower. Available with manual or automatic transmissions, the S can accelerate to 60 mpg in 6.5 and 6.7 seconds, respectively. For ultimate performance, MINI offers the John Cooper Works with more turbo boost (to 208 horsepower), Brembo brakes, an aerodynamic body kit, and upgraded seat trim. Both the S and John Cooper Works models can be fitted with a Sport package of their own that includes additional suspension firming, 17-inch wheels, xenon headlamps and hood stripes.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 MINI Hardtop
Starting price
$20,452
Shopper Popularity
21%

2013 MINI Hardtop Cooper

Most Popular
Recommended for: Buyers wanting a fun-to-drive small car with loads of character

The MINI Cooper runs with a 121-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission, a combo that takes it from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds and yields 32 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Coopers equipped with the optional six-speed automatic are about a second slower to 60 mph.

Standard equipment includes 15-inch alloy wheels, power windows and locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, leatherette seats, cruise control, leather-wrapped tilt/telescope steering wheel, multicolor ambient lighting, and a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, an HD radio, and a USB/iPod adapter. The available Sport package adds 16-inch wheels (in three styles), fog lamps, dynamic traction control, sport seats, and hood stripes.

As usual, MINI offers a vast array of options, color schemes, trim packages, and accessories to customize the Cooper to your tastes.

2013 MINI Hardtop
Starting price
$23,762
Shopper Popularity
15%

2013 MINI Hardtop Cooper S

Recommended for: Small-car fans who appreciate gutsy performance

The Cooper S comes with a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 181 horsepower and propels it to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds (6.7 with automatic). To handle the extra power, the S is equipped with a firmer suspension and standard 16-inch wheels. Fog lamps, sport seats, and alloy pedals are also standard. The S can be ordered with a Sport package of its own that adds 17-inch wheels, xenon headlamps, dynamic traction control, and hood stripes.

2013 MINI Hardtop
Starting price
$30,017
Shopper Popularity
1%

2013 MINI Hardtop John Cooper Works

Recommended for: Folks who want standout looks and performance in a tidy package

The John Cooper Works model takes all performance attributes of the S and kicks it up a notch with a 208-horsepower version of the turbocharged engine, beefier Brembo brakes, standard 17-inch wheels, cloth seats, and an aerodynamic body kit. Top speed is 148 mph, making it one of the fastest MINIs ever made. When it comes to accessories, it's hard to overstate the sheer variety of performance and appearance upgrades offered on John Cooper models, from wheels and suspension parts to knobs and door sills.

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