$17,678 - $28,533

2017 MINI Cooper Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 MINI Cooper was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.8

Test drivers almost unanimously describe the 2017 Mini Cooper as a fun car to drive. Three different turbocharged engines provide varying amounts of power, and ride quality is very sporty, albeit harsh.

  • "This is a fun car to drive no matter which engine powers it." -- Edmunds
  • "For one thing, it's tremendously fun to drive. No, the Cooper isn't rear-wheel drive, and it's not especially fast compared to purpose-built sports cars. But the folks at MINI have managed to tune the Cooper's suspension so it drives better than virtually any other similarly priced car, regardless of drive wheels. It's also easy to get over the lack of a huge engine because the Cooper is just so eager to have fun around the corners." -- AutoTrader (2016)
  • "The 2016 Mini Cooper 2-door and Mini Cooper 4-door hatchback and convertible models are fun to drive, and they get good fuel economy as well. For example, while the base models aren't exactly fast, they're quick enough, and fuel economy of up to 40 mpg is more than a consolation prize." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Mini Cooper comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 134 horsepower. Cooper S models have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 189 horsepower. The John Cooper Works trims also feature a four-cylinder engine but with an output of 228 horsepower. The Mini Cooper comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is available. According to the EPA, the base Mini Cooper gets 28 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, which are a little better than average for the class. The four-cylinder engine in the S and John Cooper Works models return 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

All three available engines in the Mini Cooper provide good power, despite their relatively small size. The automatic transmission shifts rapidly for good performance, though there are mixed reviews on how adept the manual transmission is. Some critics think the manual is imprecise when shifting gears, but others say the transmission still makes the Cooper fun to drive.

  • The base engine provides impressive power considering its diminutive size. It loses some steam at higher rpm, but for most drivers it's a very solid pick. Both turbocharged four-cylinder engines have the Mini punching above its class, allowing it to keep up with larger cars such as the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The automatic transmission is smooth and shifts quickly, while the manual can be a bit difficult to drive because of its vague clutch action, long throws and imprecise gates." -- Edmunds
  • Even though the base-level Cooper's new engine is just a 3-cylinder, we thought it felt surprisingly eager when driven hard. With that said, it can feel a bit sluggish in routine driving. Three-cylinder or 4-cylinder, base-level Cooper models have always needed a little coaxing to get them going quickly. Meanwhile, 4-cylinder Cooper S and John Cooper Works models are zippier and more eager to go fast, thanks to a broader power band and a smooth, quick-shifting 6-speed automatic." -- AutoTrader (2016)
  • "Three turbocharged engines are available, from the 3-cylinder in base models, to the 4-cylinder in the Cooper S models, to that relative powerhouse in the 2-door John Cooper Works Hardtop and Convertible. Whether you choose the manual or quick-shifting automatic, every Mini Cooper is fun to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Handling and Braking

The Mini Cooper is generally praised for its sporty handling capabilities that allow it to dart around corners. Excellent road grip through curves adds to the Cooper’s prowess. However, this impressive handling results in a rough ride quality.

  • "The 2017 Mini Hardtop's small footprint, low center of gravity and light weight give it excellent handling characteristics. … Even just zipping around town, it feels playful and engaging, and parking in tight spots is a cinch. Along curvy roads, the Hardtop feels taut and tenacious, clawing for grip with rare enthusiasm." -- Edmunds
  • “… the Mini makes the most of its front-wheel-drive chassis with a corner-carving ability that has to be experienced to be believed. On the highway or on rough pavement, the ride is on the rough side, it's definitely loud inside, and the quick steering can make the car feel nervous." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Just like the 2 Door Hardtop, the 4 Door exhibits impressive body control, with little lean in corners. Despite the fact that this is still a relatively short car with wheels positioned at the four corners of its body, the suspension absorbs road imperfections well, especially given the larger wheels of the S model. For a front-wheel drive car, the overall chassis feel is neutral -- there's not much in the way of unwanted side effects to irk fans of the original Mini, or modern BMWs, to which the Mini Cooper is closely related to in terms of technology." -- AutoWeek (2015)

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