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SAFETY | 8 out of 10
Good," frontal offset impact; "acceptable," side impact
Four stars, front impacts; five stars, side impacts
The 2010 MINI Cooper hardtop has been crash-tested by both major testing authorities in the United States, and the results are slightly above average for the class.
NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) gives the MINI hatchback four out of five stars for front-impact protection, five stars for driver-side collisions, and four stars for passenger-rear-side collisions. The low center of gravity helps the hatchback earn the agency's highest five-star rating in the rollover risk category. In tests performed by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), the 2010 MINI Cooper earns the top score of "good" in the frontal offset impact category and a second-best rating of "acceptable" for side impact collisions. The MINI Cooper Convertible has not been crash-tested.
Six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control are standard on the MINI Cooper lineup, and the Convertible has pop-up roll bars that deploy along with airbags if a rollover is detected. Traction control is an option on the Cooper S models; it has its own off switch for sporty driving decided by your limits, not some computer's. Hill Assist helps owners launch the car safely on inclines. Motor Trend lists the MINI's "Alphabet Soup full of standard electronic aids including ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC and Hill Start-Off Assistance."
Notable safety options include xenon headlamps, parking sensors, and run-flat tires.
Visibility, though, is an issue even in the ragtop; even without passengers, rear headrests and the folded top cut into straight-back visibility on the Convertible. Hatchback drivers will see little out of the MINI Cooper's tiny rear window, but otherwise it has panoramic field vision. MyRide says driving the 2010 MINI Cooper "is like driving a fishbowl, partly because you get a lot of attention, but also because it's so easy to see out of," thanks to the fact that the "pillars are thin and virtually disappear," while the "rear seat head restraints are tucked down next to the seatbacks." Car and Driver comments that "rear vision in the new [Convertible] is still pretty lousy," especially with the top up.
The 2010 MINI Cooper hatchback crash-tests well and has good visibility; the convertible's untested, with some significant visibility problems.