The diminutive MINI Cooper has grown slightly over the years, but it maintains its status as one of the most attractive small cars available. The base 2009 MINI Cooper hardtop hasn't changed for this latest model year, but the high-performance John Cooper Works edition features some new styling elements.
The 2009 MINI Cooper hardtop is a compact, two-door shot of pure exhilaration that Edmunds says is "available in three trim levels: Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works." Externally, all three versions of the MINI Cooper are largely identical and feature "clown-car styling," according to MyRide.com. Cars.com notes that the MINI Cooper S is distinguished by its "hood-scoop intake," while Edmunds observes that the MINI Cooper John Cooper Works edition gets "17-inch wheels, upgraded brakes...and unique exterior and interior styling cues." The base MINI Cooper rides on 15-inch alloys, and the mid-range MINI Cooper S has 16-inchers filling out its wheel wells.
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com contain nothing but praise for the 2009 MINI Cooper's styling, regardless of the unique trim level applications. Edmunds simply loves the "endearing retro styling," while J. D. Power feels that the MINI Cooper is "a pop-culture icon with a cult following." While "cult" might be a bit of a stretch, it is definitely true that the MINI has stirred owner loyalty and passion matched by few vehicles of any price range.
Once you've finished admiring the exterior elements that make the 2009 MINI Cooper so darn appealing, it's time to sit inside the cabin, which continues the retro theme so prominently established on the exterior. Some reviewers find this emphasis on form over function somewhat off-putting, and Cars.com notes the "interior features a center-mounted speedometer" that can require some acclimation time. ConsumerGuide reports that "many dashboard gauges and controls sacrifice functionality for 'retro' style," including the speedometer and the tachometer, which is "partially blocked from view." MyRide.com agrees, warning that the MINI Cooper's speedometer "may be a great styling element, but in practice it constantly reflects the outside world and suffers from noticeable parallax error." On the positive side, Motor Trend finds that the interior is "still relatively stylish," and drivers should grow accustomed to the unique interior layout after a while.