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TheCarConnection.com's editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 MINI Cooper to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident experts also drove the MINI Cooper to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.
- Turbo thrust
- Improved ride
- MINI character
- Electric power steering
- Options add up quickly
The 2008 MINI Cooper may not look new, but in 2007, the British hatchback was completely redesigned (the Convertible was not; TheCarConnection.com covers it separately). With the new design come new engines, a better ride, and a richer interior.
It takes an expert to pick out the differences between the 2008 MINI Cooper and the first-generation car. The headlamps blend into the body better, the rear side glass panels are a little more tapered, and the shoulders on the rear fenders are slightly more pronounced. Good thing--the MINI's iconic shape didn't need a complete reinvention. Inside, the Cooper has more obvious changes, including a slimmer center stack of controls, a much bigger speedometer that now contains audio controls, and a Start button.
The standard engine for 2007 is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder delivering 120 horsepower, enough to get the new MINI to 60 mph in just over 9 seconds. The S version gets a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter engine developing 175 horsepower, sufficient for 0-60 sprints of about 7 seconds flat. The base engine has highway fuel economy of up to 28/37 mpg. It's great, but the turbo is far livelier, with an induction growl and turbo whine. A six-speed manual is standard, while a six-speed automatic is an option. The manual is a pleasure to row, much more so than the old gearbox. The gearshift has a longer throw, but its heft and response are much finer.