Come for the style, but you’ll have to stay for the substance. Most buyers are attracted to the 2018 Mini Cooper for its underdog attitude and myriad customization possibilities. But that honeymoon will end, and the Mini’s approach to performance and hatchback versatility will likely endure.
We give the 2018 Mini Cooper a 6.5 out of 10 for that iconic style and some modicum of comfort. There are better hatchbacks out there, but do any of them have a British flag painted on the roof? Thought so. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Little on the Mini Cooper has changed from last year. This year the small car gets a standard rearview camera (ahead of a federal mandate for the safety equipment) and some package reshuffling. The fuel gauge will be slightly different and the turning indicator will stay in the same position—in other words, it’s kind of the same.
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p dir=”ltr”>The Mini Cooper is offered as a two- or four-door hatchback, a soft-top convertible, or as an awkwardly cool four-door wagon with swinging doors at its tail called the Clubman. Regardless of body style, any Mini is instantly recognizable on the road. Mini is far removed from its days as a diminutive British automaker, it’s owned by BMW and shares some of the Bavarian behemoth’s engines and architecture.
The Cooper is powered by a chunky turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that makes just 124 horsepower. Those cars rely on eager steering and the Cooper’s relative light weight to supplement shortcomings of that engine.
Cooper S cars are powered by a turbo-4 that makes 189 hp that outkicks its own coverage. It’s uproariously fun and nimble, but also overpowered—Coopers are fun in the corners, not necessarily straight-line speed.
At the top of the heap is a John Cooper Works edition that’s available on two-door hardtop, convertible, and Clubman models. It uses an uprated turbo-4 to make 228 hp that’s delivered in a savage, hugely entertaining way.
Those engines can be mated to a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission, with standard front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, which is optional on Clubman models.
Beyond power, the Mini’s practicality comes into view. The two-door hardtop models do their best impression as versatile hatchbacks with a split-folding rear seat that transforms 8.7 cubic feet of cargo space into 37 cubes. Four-door versions are more capacious: 13.1 cubic feet with second row in place, or 40.7 with the seats folded. Clubman models do the best: 17.5 cubic feet and 47.9 cubic feet respectively. That’s usable space, but when considered against the Mini’s price, which starts at $22,450 and can into the high-$30,000s, practicality takes on a new meaning.