Buyers who want the quintessential Mini experience naturally gravitate to the charming Hardtop. The small hatchback, available in a traditional three- or a more versatile five-door body, delivers plenty of personality, spunky performance, and unmistakable style for the price of some conventional compacts.
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2018 MINI Hardtop Overview
What's New for 2018
A rear-view camera and rear parking sensors are now standard.
Choosing Your MINI Hardtop
The Hardtop starts out with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that develop 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The standard six-speed manual transmission features automatic rev-matching, as does the optional six-speed automatic ($1,250). Even with the base engine, the Hardtop is quick for its class – low-end torque is a particular strong point – and achieves an EPA-estimated 32 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, or 30 mpg with the automatic.
The available 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo in the Cooper S provides a boost to 189 hp and 207 lb-feet of torque. The automatic yields slightly better efficiency in this case, 28 mpg combined versus 26 mpg with the manual. There's also a high-output version of the 2.0-liter reserved for the John Cooper Works models that delivers 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque without any loss of efficiency.
Two-door versions offer 34 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded, while the four-door maxes out at 40.7 cubic feet. These figures are typical for a subcompact hatchback.
Trim levels differ mainly in engine and other performance hardware:
Mini offers a huge array of options a la carte, although the best are packaged together. The Cold Weather Package ($750) adds heated front seats and power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors. The $1,750 Technology Package tacks on navigation, a high-resolution 8.8-inch display, and an automated parking system. The Premium Package kicks up the luxury quotient with a panoramic sunroof, a Harman Kardon sound system, keyless access, and ambient interior lighting.
The Cooper can get a Sport Package ($2,000) with a driver-adjustable suspension, sport seats, 16-inch wheels, and unique exterior accents. The Cooper S is available with a Sport Package of its own, adding 17-inch wheels and the adjustable suspension for $1,500. John Cooper Works Interior ($600) and Exterior ($3,250) packages are available on the Cooper and Cooper S and add some of the range-topping model's visual flair without compromising the lesser trims' more relaxed driving character.
The Fully Loaded Package for the Cooper ($5,250) and Cooper S ($4,750) combines the contents of the Technology, Premium, and Sport packages. (Cold Weather remains optional.)
Several different types of upholstery are available on all models, ranging from $750 to $2,250 – customers are also free to customize the cabins with stylish trim pieces on the dash and doors. Dual hood stripes (in black or white) are offered for $100 and are easily matched to the no-cost contrasting roof. Buyers can also choose from of a wide range of graphics and dress-up items like red hubcaps ($75), full-roof decals ($305), and rearview mirror caps ($100). All three models are available with a large variety of wheel options priced from $0 to $2,000.
The basic Cooper outperforms most cars in this class, so we recommend driving one before deciding whether an upgrade to the sportier S or JCW is in order. Note that the JCW's sport suspension can get harsh in daily driving, but MINI allows buyers to "downgrade" to the standard suspension at no cost.
2018 MINI Hardtop Review
Small, nimble, and backed by BMW, the Mini Hardtop maintains its core constituency by delivering attractive variations on its iconic theme and a timeless look, while delivering premium features few mainstream models match.
The 2018 Mini Hardtop offers an expressive style and is available as a three- or five-door hardtop. A convertible is marketed separately.
We like the Hardtop three-door with a starting price of $22,450, including an $850 destination charge. It is ideal for city dwellers who want the best blend of style and price in this timeless classic – and to be frank, the five-door makes the back seat easier to access, but it's not so much roomier that we'd pay the extra $1,000.
Standard features include a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, 15-inch silver aluminum wheels, dual power remote heated side mirrors, front and rear anti-roll bars, a tilt and telescopic steering column, cloth seats, air conditioning, a six-speaker audio system, and satellite radio. A six-speed manual transmission is standard while a six-speed auto adds $1,250 to the starting price.
The Mini Hardtop is available in Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works grades. We recommend the base Cooper model, but also recognize that for some people nothing less than a turbocharged four-cylinder engine will do as found in the Cooper S and John cooper Works. For those owners, consider the Cooper S before stepping up to the high-price JCW – the performance gap is smaller than Mini's marketing would have you believe.
Mini is renowned for its approach to customization. While there are option packages that bundle popular features together, virtually every piece of equipment is available as an a la carte option. Put simply, a Mini is the most customizable, factory-built vehicle this side of a Porsche. We'd suggest focusing your funds on functional equipment rather than the bevy of cosmetic items – the Fully Loaded Package is a smart place to start. It bundles some of the most popular gear from the other available packages together into a single tick of the box. But speaking of aesthetics, it's tough to get away without dropping some coin. Mini only offers one standard color – Moonwalk Grey. Of the 11 other available colors, one demands $1,000, while each of the others adds $500 to the price tag. At least Mini's iconic contrasting roof is still a no-cost option.
- Model: 2018 MINI Hardtop 2-Door
- Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder
- Output: 124 hp/162 lb. ft.
- Transmission: Six-speed manual
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 28 city/38 highway
- Options: Fully Loaded ($5,250; LED headlights, upgraded wheels, panoramic moonroof, dynamic damper control, sport seats, navigation, parking assistant, and a Harman/Kardon audio system)
- Base Price: $22,450 (including $850 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $27,700
The base 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine won’t wow you for its straight-line speed (although off-the-line torque is genuinely surprising, almost diesel like), but drivers receive ample compensation when carving up corners and while darting in and out of traffic. When it comes to braking, the Mini Hardtop comes to a firm stop.
You have a choice of six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions. If you insist on an automatic, we recommend upgrading your engine choice with it.
If you want more power, the Cooper S with its muscular 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 189 horsepower, while the performance-oriented John Cooper Works edition serves up 228 horsepower.
Interior and Exterior
The Mini Hardtop offers a contemporary take on the original 1960s theme. Fortunately, Mini doesn’t depart too far from the tried-and-true look in delivering a modern classic. Whether shopping the three-door or the five-door model, you’ll find an endless supply of customization options, including special paint schemes.
The current look reflects a redesign undertaken three years ago with its now longer nose, upright windshield, and lighting touches on the front fenders. Subtle differences separate Mini models, but an iconic theme remains.
Inside, the Mini Hardtop offers room for four. The front seats are comfortable for the driver and passenger, but most will find rear space lacking, even in the five-door model. Consider that space ideal for children or you can fold-down the rear seat to gain additional storage space.
Overall, the interior offers a “class above” look with its stylish cabin marked by a circular theme common throughout — instrument gauges, center console, door handles and beyond. The cabin is sufficiently insulated and ride comfort is generally better than any other small car on the market, a far cry from Minis of old.
The Best and Worst Things
The Mini Hardtop successfully brings the brand's traditional styling forward to the 21st Century. Even though it’s been back on the market in the US for about 15 years, it's still a head turner. The base engine is thrifty, but it’ll disappoint anyone looking for a performance edge. That’s where the Cooper S comes in as a better choice.
Anyone desiring a timeless classic. There’s nothing else like the Mini out there.
The budget-minded consumer. Sure, a base model without the common trappings won’t break your bank, but Mini it's dangerously easy to inflate even a Cooper's price to something absurd – it's very easy to take a base model and puff it up to north of $30,000.
The Bottom Line
The Mini Hardtop can be had in three- and five-door body styles with performance ranging from mild to wild. Prices can climb fast too, but package offerings bundle the best features for a reasonable cost.