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.

Best Value

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

Performance

Mini Hardtop

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.

Right For...

Mini Hardtop

Anyone desiring a timeless classic. There’s nothing else like the Mini out there.

Wrong For...

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.