2020 MINI Cooper

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
September 30, 2019

Buying tip

With active safety features and dual-clutch automatic transmissions now standard, the Cooper is better value than ever across the range.

features & specs

John Cooper Works FWD
Oxford Edition FWD
Cooper FWD
MPG
26 city / 34 hwy
MPG
28 city / 36 hwy
MPG
28 city / 36 hwy
MSRP
$33,400
MSRP
$23,400
MSRP
$24,400

The 2020 Mini Cooper is a fun and funky small hatchback that trades practicality and value for character and quality.

The 2020 Mini Cooper is a versatile small hatchback or convertible that packs loads of character and German-backed quality into a city-friendly package. However, it’s not as practical as competitors and can get very expensive very fast, so we give it 6 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, the Cooper hatchback lineup gets additional equipment on a few of its trim levels, while all models get active safety features included as standard as well as a new upholstery option. An all-electric version, the Cooper SE, is set to debut in 2020 as well, and should manage more than 110 miles of range and 181 horsepower when it arrives in the U.S.

It may seem cumbersome, but the Mini lineup isn’t so hard to understand. What most people know as the “Cooper” is known to Mini as the 2-door Hardtop, 4-door Hardtop, and Convertible. The Clubman wagon and Countryman SUV are standalone models, while all Minis are offered in Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works trims.

Review continues below

In terms of design, Mini retains the playful spirit of the original with plenty of round design elements, a friendly face, and material quality that’s far above the rest thanks to parent company BMW. Subtle touches like the infotainment graphics and Union Jack taillights add to the kitsch and are undoubtedly fun if not for everyone.

Entry-level Cooper models get an eager 3-cylinder turbo engine with 134 horsepower, while the Cooper S gets a turbo-4 with 189 hp. Mini suspended the 6-speed manual in the U.S., offering the slick 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as part of the $2,000 price jump for 2020. John Cooper Works models now come standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and pack 228 hp from an improved turbo-4. With its short wheelbase and tight, responsive steering, the Mini packs “go-kart” handling that’s tossable and fun, but relatively comfortable on longer drives.

A hallmark of the Mini brand has been customization, and beyond being available in three body styles, the Cooper can be had with everything from cloth upholstery and minimal features to BMW-worthy leather and every comfort in the book. For 2020, active safety tech is standard, making the Mini’s questionable value a bit less questionable.

Crash tests are split among agencies, with the NHTSA giving four stars overall but the IIHS awarding the 2-door Hardtop “Good” results and a Top Safety Pick award in 2018, when equipped with LED headlights and active safety features. Fuel economy is predictably great as well, with most models averaging at least 29 mpg combined and an all-electric SE version on the way.


8

2020 MINI Cooper

Styling

The 2020 Mini Cooper is fun inside and out, but may not be universally appealing.

The 2020 Mini Cooper isn’t for everyone, but there’s no denying its charm and customizability. We give it 8 out of 10 here for its commitment to retro fun. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Nearly everyone knows a Mini when they see one, and the iconic Cooper is still as recognizable as the day it was re-introduced, though more cartoonish than ever. It is the classically modern European city car. Details like the Union Jack taillights and big, round headlights are bordering on ridiculous, but for some buyers it’s the perfect amount of kitsch. Two-door hatchbacks look better than four-door, but the convertible is fun no matter how you look at it.

The interior is a pleasing blend of fun and high-quality, with the circular center stack’s LED ring offering visual intrigue in place of previous generations’ center-mounted speedometers. Material quality is of the highest order too, thanks to parent company BMW.

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7

2020 MINI Cooper

Performance

The 2020 Mini Cooper is fun no matter how you slice it, though base models are better for smiles-per-dollar.

The 2020 Mini Cooper is fun in all forms, even if the manual transmission has been delayed in U.S. markets. We give it 7 out of 10 for its trio of strong turbocharged engines. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

As standard, the Cooper trim comes with a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine that’s peppy and fun to wring out, thanks to 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. When it came with a 6-speed manual and front-wheel-drive, it was as fun as some sports cars when pushed hard. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is not just easier to operate, it’s also quicker.

The Cooper S retains its 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 189 hp and 206 lb-ft, reaching 60 mph in about 6.4 seconds. The John Cooper Works model is for hot hatchback fans only, and includes a 228-hp, 236 lb-ft version of the S’s turbo-4 that makes this little hatchback positively crackling with excitement. The JCW version includes an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard.

Mini has touted its “go-kart” handling, even including a graphic on the infotainment screen that says as much when you switch to sport mode, but we’re inclined to agree with them. A short wheelbase, tight steering, and excellent suspension make for a fun ride no matter your Mini, and that’s something worth celebrating.

Ride quality is good on smaller wheels, but larger 18-inchers increase stiffness and communicate road imperfections noticeably more.

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4

2020 MINI Cooper

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Mini Cooper is not particularly practical, but material quality is BMW-grade.

The 2020 Mini Cooper comes in three body styles, but none is suitable for more than two adults for long periods of time. We give it 4 out of 10 as such. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

True to its name, the Mini Cooper is as mini as most new cars come, with decent space for the two front seat occupants but not much beyond that. Four-door hatchback models feign practicality, but the rear seat is cramped and claustrophobic, best for short journeys at most. Those looking for a bit more room out of their Mini should opt for the Clubman wagon or Countryman subcompact crossover instead.

Cargo space is predictably poor as well, with just 8.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and a maximum of 34 with the rear seats folded flat. Convertible models are even less accommodating, shrinking trunk space to 5.7 cubes to make room for the foldable soft top.

Material quality is excellent, however, thanks to parent company BMW. Fine leather upholstery is available (at a significant cost) and makes the Mini a genuine city-friendly mini-luxury vehicle.

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5

2020 MINI Cooper

Safety

The 2020 Mini Cooper benefits from standard active safety equipment despite its mixed crash test results.

The 2020 Mini Cooper’s safety score is helped greatly by the addition of standard active safety features, though crash test scores remain mixed. We give it 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The NHTSA gives the Cooper 4 stars overall in 2-door hatchback form, knocking off a star for a sub-par frontal crash test score. The IIHS doesn’t seem to agree, awarding “Good” ratings all around for the Mini, which earned a Top Safety Pick in 2018 when equipped with active safety features, which are now standard. 

The suite of active safety features BMW calls Active Driving Assistant standard includes blind spot monitors, lane departure warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and front collision warning with daytime pedestrian. 

That unfortunately comes with an overall price increase of about $2,000 for 2020 too, but at least it’s now standard equipment.

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6

2020 MINI Cooper

Features

The 2020 Mini Cooper is better-equipped as standard, but its price increase nearly negates the value proposition.

The 2020 Mini Cooper is known for its customizability, and though trim levels and options have been simplified, the Cooper ranges from quirky economy car to luxury city slicker. We give it 6 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Unfortunately, the 2020 model sees a price increase of $1,500 to $2,000 across the range, to account for its standard active safety features and automatic transmission. 

At $24,250 to start, the base three-cylinder Cooper is our pick of the litter, as its fun and economical 3-cylinder turbo engine is a blast to wring out, and standard models are now well-equipped with 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and the aforementioned safety tech. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, and Union Jack LED taillights are also standard on the base Classic trim.

Signature models add 16-inch alloys, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, LED fog lights and headlights, and more, while the top-tier Iconic trim includes a better infotainment system, leather upholstery, and more.

On top of that, you can add more equipment to nearly any Mini, including fine leather upholstery, unique interior trim, bigger wheels (up to 18-inches), and ultra-British Union Jack accents.

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6

2020 MINI Cooper

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Mini Cooper is efficient in nearly any form, especially base.

With a trio of turbocharged engines, the 2020 Mini Cooper is predictably fuel-efficient, improved even further by an all-electric version later in the model year. We give it 6 out of 10 here, as higher-performance models really drop off in terms of economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base Cooper model with its turbo-3-cylinder gets 28 city, 36 highway, and 31 combined mpg in all three body styles with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic equipped. That includes the convertible. Opting for the Hardtop Cooper S drops those figures only slightly to 26/35/30 mpg and comes with a power increase of over 50 horses.

Updated John Cooper Works drop slightly at 26/34/29 mpg. The all-electric Cooper SE model should come with a total range of around 110-miles or more based on European figures when it arrives in mid-2020.

Review continues below

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$23,400
MSRP based on Oxford Edition FWD
 
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6.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 5
Features 6
Fuel Economy 6
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