2017 MINI Cooper

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 26, 2017

Buying tip

If autocross isn't in your future plans, consider the convertible before the bigger engine in the Cooper S. The power-folding hardtop is more

The 2017 Mini Cooper is still one of the most fun cars to drive on the road today.

The 2017 Mini Cooper is a hatchback with a lot going on. Among all its body styles and kinds, there's the two- or four-door Mini Cooper; a soft-top Mini Convertible; a long-roofed, and a four-door Mini Clubman with side-swinging doors at the rear.

It earned a 6.7 out of 10 in our overall score thanks to its unique styling and great handling, with room to improve on safety and features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Styling and performance

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This essential Mini Cooper is one of the most recognizable shapes on the road today and universally fun to drive. Its interior has (thankfully) evolved from its quirky beginnings to its relatively useful and meaningful design today. Although its exterior was overhauled two years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to spot many differences.

The Cooper comes in several different flavors, all of which can be customized to your budget: Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper Convertible, and Clubman. The Cooper and Cooper S are also offered with four doors, which are standard on the Clubman. The Clubman is the only Cooper available with all-wheel-drive.

Three turbocharged powertrains are available in the Cooper. The base turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder makes 124 horsepower and is very fun to drive. The turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 in Cooper S models makes 189 hp—but may outkick its own coverage. At the top is the 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the John Cooper Works edition, which makes 228 hp, and we have a wonderful, warm straight jacket waiting right over here for those drivers. Those engines can be paired to a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Quality, safety, and features

By the numbers, the Cooper is 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider, and 0.3 inches taller than the Cooper it replaced in 2014. The four-door Cooper Hardtop adds 10 more inches, and the Clubman wagon adds nearly 8 inches on to that figure. Yes, we get it: the Mini is now a maxi.

The Cooper can be pressed into cargo detail (especially the Clubman), but it's actually smaller and less practical than many hatchbacks that cost far less.

The latest Mini Cooper received top marks by the IIHS, including the agency's prestigious Top Safety Pick nod. Federal testers don't necessarily agree with those scores; they gave the car a four-star overall score.

Features and customization abound. Mini takes the Burger King approach to car building here and lets owners have just about whatever they like—for a price. The Mini is handsomely equipped as standard with a 6.5-inch center screen, Bluetooth connectivity, 15-inch wheels (16-inch on Cooper S), and faux-leather.

We recommend an $1,750 sport package for its adjustable dampers and ride qualities, but there are several more packages that can add up quickly. Curiously, a package named "Fully Loaded" doesn't contain everything—a rearview camera is still $1,350 more—and there are thousands more in exterior trim and decals.

Base Coopers start at $21,000 and a top-of-the-line JCW convertible starts north of $35,600. Fully loaded Cooper S models can run up to $40,000.

8

2017 MINI Cooper

Styling

The Mini's interior is very good, but its exterior and customization options are legendary.

The 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop is a hatchback—even though it's available with four doors now. The Clubman, which is derived from the four-door, is a stretched wheelbase version and uses barn-style doors at the rear. The Convertible is, well, you know what it is.

You'd be forgiven for mistaking this year's version for the one that came out 15 years ago—its design has remained constant.

We gave the Mini an 8 out of 10 on our scale for styling thanks to it's charming and exceptional good looks outside, and a fairly quirky—but still usable—interior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2017 Mini Cooper has changed most on the inside, and largely for the better. The instruments are where you expect them, at last: A large tachometer with a smaller speedometer hung off its side sit behind the steering wheel. The round shape in the center of the dash is now exclusively a display screen—of various sizes depending on trim level and options—flanked by a pair of rectangular air vents. Two large round eyeball vents sit at the outer edges of the dash.

The switchgear, previously found in arrangements ranging from marginal to chaotic, is easier to find and more logical to operate. There's still a horizontal row of switches in the central lower dash, but above it are three more-or-less standard rotary knobs for the heating and ventilation system. (A note: The metallic switchgear for the Convertible's power folding roof can heat up in direct sunlight, making the roof inoperable in the summer—ironic.)

Passengers still sit deep in the car, surrounded by quite a lot of black trim and upholstery, but most of the Mini’s beneficial quirks remain—and a lot of the bad ones are gone, making this the most livable Mini yet.

What distinguishes the Cooper lineup to a lot of shoppers will be its degree of customization, and the chance to concoct your own distinct style. For instance, Convertibles can be themed with a Union Jack flag top and herringbone-patterned detailing, eight different upholsteries are offered, including a new Malt Brown leather, and Mini Yours finishes like Fiber Alloy and porcelain-like Off-White add a more distinctive look to the cabin.

The newest Minis are based on underpinnings that will ultimately spawn up to 10 Mini models; they're also responsible for the BMW X1.

The main tipoff to the new design is its longer nose, which complies with the latest frontal crash-safety regulations and accommodates European rules for more crush space under the hood for accidents with pedestrians. The taillights too give it away: while they're still vertical rectangles, they're closer to square—and larger overall.

The standard Mini design cues and proportions are all there: the oval light units on the top corners of the front fenders, an oblong grille framed in chrome, and the upright windshield. The window line remains horizontal, with black pillars supporting a long roof that can be painted white to contrast with the body color (one of Mini’s most popular options).

Convertible models further emphasize that horizontal theme, and while their rear flip-down tailgate gives the rear of the vehicle a different profile, the stance is virtually same as that of the Coupe. Top down, the Convertible models gain a different, more roadster-like sense of proportion that actually works very well with the longer front end these Cooper models got with their last redesign.

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7

2017 MINI Cooper

Performance

Three turbocharged engines make the Mini dart and dash everywhere; don't overlook the base engine, it's still fun.

The 2017 Mini Cooper lineup has carried over unchanged from previous years—but that's not boring at all.

The base engine in the Mini Cooper (and Clubman) is a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine that produces 124 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque (169 lb-ft for a few seconds during "overboost"). The small engine helps the Mini run up to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, according to the manufacturer. Keep going, and you'll hit the car's top speed at 130 mph.

The Mini's superlative handling and braking is reason enough to give it a 7 out of 10 on our scale. The Cooper S models, which have a bigger engine, are wildly fun, but also more expensive. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For more performance, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 is available in Cooper S models. That engine makes 189 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque (221 lb-ft during overboost), and is a second faster to 60 mph.

Both of those engines can be mated to a 6-speed manual or automatic. Based on our driving, the manual can't be missed in base models; Cooper S models somewhat redeem the automatic with $250 optional paddle shifters.

The JCW edition of the Cooper tunes the 2.0-liter turbo-4 into the stratosphere. It produces 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, but is difficult to tame.

The turbocharged 3-cylinder is our pick between the two for a few reasons: it's much less expensive; and, the car's fun is found in the corners—not straight-line speed.

A toggle at the base of the ring around the shift lever lets drivers choose from Sport, Mid, or Green modes, with corresponding red, blue, or green rings around the center display screen. Sport keeps idle speed higher and holds gears longer; it also stiffens the steering, and if you've opted for the adaptive dampers, they're firmer as well (although the adaptive damper system does help keep road coarseness out of the cabin).

Even the new generation of Mini rides firmly, but it doesn't crash over the worst bumps.

A wide range of optional wheels and tires ranges up to 18 inches, with the usual caveat about the tallest wheels with the lowest-profile tires giving the worst ride under most circumstances. We'd suggest that the 17-inch wheels with all-season tires are a good compromise for both the Cooper and Cooper S.

Max out cornering speed

Second only to the Mini's charming looks is the car's ability to be good fun at every stop. We've driven the range—Cooper, Cooper S Convertible, and Clubman—relatively recently and can report that top to bottom, all Mini Coopers retain the same adorable cheer.

Most recently behind the wheel of a 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible, the silver Mini kept the same perk, corner after Colorado-mountain-pass corner. Despite weighing more than 250 pounds more than the base Cooper, the Convertible doesn't feel like the heavier sibling. Its steering rack is ever-so-slower in the Convertible as it is in the base Cooper or Clubman (14.0:1 compared to 14.2:1) but the Convertible keeps the same eager response as its hardtop cousins.

Tracking straight down a pencil-straight interstate isn't all that enjoyable with the Cooper's quick steering, but that can be easily solved by taking the twisty roads instead.

With Sport mode activated, the Convertible's song is intoxicating with the top down; overrun from the exhaust keeps your attention and makes mountain tunnels a blast—literally and figuratively. 

Our tester's 6-speed manual was capable, even if its linkage felt less than confident sometimes. Clutch takeup is relatively light, and the 6-speed's standard rev-matching downshifts make even grocery store runs interesting—even if they're not completely necessary.

Even a base automatic Clubman feels just as fun as a hot Cooper S Convertible—no easy feat. Despite being longer than the Cooper by nearly 18 inches, the Clubman doesn't feel stretched, and its relatively easy to place all four wheels where you want them. The automatic does its best to keep the engine in its sweet spot, which is fairly low in the rev range.

Maximum torque is delivered low in the turbo-3 model (at 1,250 rpm) and power is tapped at 4,000 rpm. There's no benefit to wringing out every gear for all it has and the automatic knows it: shifts come quickly and it's best for fuel economy and power. Our quibble is with the Eco drive mode's throttle modulation, which deadens the pedal too much for needed bursts to pass.

Throughout our testing we've found that Cooper's best performance quality is its handling, which thankfully comes base on every car.

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5

2017 MINI Cooper

Comfort & Quality

The Mini is longer, wider and louder than before; it's worthy of quick home improvement store runs, if you keep it to the small stuff.

The new Mini Cooper is based on a front-drive platform shared with BMW that'll eventually underpin many cars, including a front-drive BMW sedan.

As a result, the Mini Cooper is the smallest that platform can go, and it's still several hundred pounds heavier than the last version. The 2017 Mini Cooper is 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider, and 0.3 inches taller than the Cooper it replaced in 2014. The 4-door Cooper Hardtop adds 10 more inches, and the Clubman wagon adds nearly 11 inches on to that figure. Yes, we get it: the Mini is maxi.

The Cooper is relatively good for front passengers, but it comes up short for rear passengers and cargo space. It earned a 5 out of 10 on our ratings scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 4-door Mini can shuttle four adults in a pinch, but the Clubman model is really the only people-mover available—it's about the same size inside as a 4-door Volkswagen Golf. For buyers considering the droptop Mini, two is the magic number; cramming any more than that would require exceptions from the Geneva Convention, we think.

Behind the wheel, the Mini is close to perfect. There's plenty of head room for tall folks like us (a 6-foot-3 editor fit just fine) with the seat down low. If you're the sort that likes to see the road from a high perch, be forewarned: you may have to crane your neck to see the lights if you're on pole position at a stoplight.

Road noise is vastly reduced, and occupants now hear the right amount of engine noise rather than tire roar, wind rush, and suspension actions. The hot-rod Cooper S now has some of its engine noise piped into the cabin, while the base 3-cylinder has its own audio signature—with an uneven idle we found strangely endearing. (Some of us thought it sounded like a Freightliner at cold-start, however).

The Mini Cooper offers 8.7 feet of cargo space with the seat up, 38 cubic feet with the seat down. The Clubman is the most versatile of all: 17.5 cubic feet with rear passengers, 47.9 cubic feet with the seats down. The Convertible models still have a small flip-down tailgate and are nowhere near as cargo-capable—unless you consider 90,000 feet of open sky on top of you to be "usable space."

In all models, the front compartment has various cubbies, trays, and bins, and an optional storage package in the rear adds a tiered shelf, package nets, and seat map pockets.

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5

2017 MINI Cooper

Safety

The two major U.S. ratings agencies seemingly disagree with each other when it comes to the Mini Cooper, so we're right in the middle.

The 2017 Mini Cooper received a four-star overall score from federal safety officials, with four stars across the board. That's not particularly reassuring to many new car buyers, but the news gets better.

Independent safety officials from the IIHS gave the 2017 Mini Cooper top "Good" scores across the board, and rated the Mini's optional frontal-crash mitigation technology as "Advanced." Those ratings combined to give this year's Mini Cooper the agency's Top Safety Pick award.

It's because of that Top Safety Pick that the Mini Cooper manages to get a 5 out of 10 on our safety scale. We are forced to dock it a point because outward visibility for a car this small shouldn't be this bad. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2017 model includes eight airbags as standard equipment: not only front, side, and side-curtain bags that cover the entire window opening, but also knee bags for the driver and passenger seat in front. The usual suite of electronic safety systems is present, from anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution to dynamic stability control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Despite the Mini's relative short stature, outward vision isn't great. The roof pillars inside are thicker than you may be expecting, and because the roof extends 18 or 20 inches beyond the top of the driver's head to meet the upright windshield pillars, tall drivers may crane their necks to see stoplights.

It's worth noting that rear visibility is nearly non-existent in convertibles with the top folded back.

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2017 MINI Cooper

Features

There are myriad options to make a Mini your own; none of them are very inexpensive, however.

Mini's Cooper is famous for being customizable and personalized in millions of ways. As buyers add customized paint and interior packages to base models, those dollars add up, and despite costing nearly $21,000 to start, it's not unlikely for a Cooper S to push up close to $40,000—and that's even before the John Cooper Works high-performance models arrive.

To get into a Mini for less, it's best to stick with a base model and manual transmission—thankfully that's one of our favorites.

The 2017 Mini Cooper gets a 7 out of 10 on our scale thanks to good base features, a good base infotainment system, excellent customization options, and a good base warranty and service schedule. We wish the packages weren't so pricey or confusing, and in higher trims, Mini's value starts to fall down compared to many in its class. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Every Cooper, Cooper S, and Clubman model comes standard with a number of premium features including, LED headlights, white-trimmed interior, and leatherette upholstery. The standard wheels are 15-inch, with Cooper S models bumping up to 16-inch wheels. For 2017, Mini has made standard its Media Package, which includes a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, and an armrest.

Moving up from the 3-cylinder engine to the 2.0-liter turbo-4 is about $3,500; swapping out Mini's 6-speed manual for a 6-speed automatic adds $1,250 to the bottom line as well. Adding all-wheel drive to Clubman models adds $1,800. Removing the standard hardtop for a Cooper Convertible adds $5,000 to the bottom line. And, finally, adding 2 more doors to make the Cooper a 4-door (its practicality is debatable) is a $1,000 option.

Once buyers have picked their powertrain, number of doors and top option, the Mini Cooper can almost be as rich as you like.

For owners who prioritize handling, a $1,750 sport package can be added, which includes adjustable damper controls, sport seats, and bigger wheels—which we'd recommend for overall drivability.

A $1,800 premium package is available that offers creature comforts such as a dual-pane sunroof, premium Harman Kardon sound, and an interior storage package. A technology package, dubbed "Wired Package," bumps the 6.5-inch screen up to 8.8 inches that includes navigation and real-time traffic updates. (We'd be remiss not to point out that a rearview camera, which is standard on a wide range of Mini Cooper competitors, is buried under $3,000 of upgrades.)

A $5,000 "Fully Loaded" package isn't—it doesn't include a rearview camera, head-up display, or parking assistance. The upgrade for those relatively pedestrian features will set buyers back $1,350 on top of the $5,000 to get the car fully loaded.

There are a dizzying array of exterior colors, mirror caps, stripes, fog lights, interior black trims, accents, and swatches to choose from. The only limits to Mini's options are your available time for its online configurator—and your creativity.

For 2017, Mini offers a Cooper Seven Special Edition, which includes four special edition colors (British Racing Green is still the best) and interior colors such as Diamond Malt Brown fabric. The Seven Special Edition runs $2,500 for Cooper Hardtops, $2,000 for Cooper S Hardtops.

A wide range of optional wheels and tires ranges up to 18 inches, with the usual caveat about the tallest wheels with the lowest-profile tires giving the worst ride under most circumstances. We'd suggest that the 17-inch wheels with all-season tires are a good compromise for both the Cooper and Cooper S.

A measure of restraint with the powertrain options can keep a 3-cylinder Cooper Hardtop at around $27,000 with just about everything you'd want in a Cooper.

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2017 MINI Cooper

Fuel Economy

Despite its stature and name, the Mini just isn't as frugal as some in its class.

Don't be fooled: The Mini's relatively small size and smaller engines don't necessarily pay off at the pumps.

We give it an 8 for fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In base configuration, with BMW's small turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder, the two-door Mini Cooper manages 28 mpg city, 38 highway, 32 combined with a manual. Interestingly the four-door doesn't burden the small car, despite the additional weight: 28/37/32 mpg.

From there, the ratings dip further. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 Cooper S with two-doors and a manual is rated at 23/32/26 mpg and the thirstiest Mini of all is the 6-speed manual John Cooper Works edition, which manages 23/31/26 mpg. Convertible S models slot in at 23/32/26 mpg with the manual, or 25/34/29 mpg with the automatic.

It's important to note that the Mini requires premium gas in every case.

In our own testing, we found that the Cooper and Cooper S both managed about 25 mpg in mixed driving through canyon twisties.

If you stretch out the Cooper's legs on the interstate, your patience will be rewarded—we've earned up to 40 mpg in highway driving. The Cooper's stop-start system is the kind that you're likely to leave on; it's a much smoother system than on other BMWs. 

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December 28, 2016
For 2017 MINI Cooper

Mini car Maxi Awesomeness

  • Overall Rating
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy
  • Reliability
This is my fourth Mini so you can guess how I feel about Mini Coopers!! I even owned the coupe and loved it! Although I'm a "senior" I feel so much cooler than my friends stuck with their SUV's and big sedans!!
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6.7
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Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 5
Features 7
Fuel Economy 8
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