What’s So Special About Mini Cooper?

Subcompact cars aren’t as popular as they used to be, but brands like Mini are still holding strong. Mini’s legendary Mini Cooper has a quirky sense of style that appeals to many drivers. But what’s so special about Mini Cooper besides its looks?

The Mini Cooper and its “go-kart” handling 

2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric
2020 Mini Cooper SE on display at Brussels Expo | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

As we’ve said before, there’s nothing like a Mini. Sure there are other subcompacts than what’s available in the Mini lineup. Even so, the Mini’s unique, peppy nature is what sets it apart from the pack. Critics often praise the Mini Cooper for its sporty go-kart inspired handling. 

Unlike some of its class rivals, the Mini Cooper offers an engaging driving experience, which makes it more fun to drive. This subcompact has a variety of surprisingly lively powertrain options. But as U.S. News notes, not everyone will appreciate the Mini Cooper for what it is. The Mini Cooper’s firm suspension translates to a stiffer ride that some drivers won’t like. 

Powertrain options 

Mini Cooper driving over a crosswalk
Mini Cooper | Mini Cooper

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Mini has a few different models with a variety of powertrain choices. But if you stick with the classic Mini Cooper, there are four powertrains to consider. The all-new 2021 Mini Cooper lineup is more exciting because the manual transmission returns.

Base models come with a 134-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder. Many reviewers recommend this option for everyday drives around the suburbs. There are also three turbocharged engines available:

  • 189-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (Cooper S)
  • 228-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (John Cooper Works)
  • 301-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (JCW GP)

Road testers at U.S. News recommend the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models over the base one if you plan to do more highway driving. The JCW GP variant is the most potent option and is new for 2021. Although, some might be disappointed that the JCW isn’t available with a manual transmission.

Interior elements 

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Some critics say the Mini Cooper is a mixed bag on the inside. You’ll appreciate the Mini Cooper’s trendy yet old-fashioned interior design. Depending on the configuration you pick, the Mini Cooper can seat up to five people. Its seats are generally supportive, but those riding in the back may feel squeezed. Like other subcompact cars, the Mini Cooper doesn’t do a great job keeping out excess road noise. 

The 2021 Mini Cooper comes standard with a few in-car electronics, including a 6.5-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth connection, and an eight-speaker stereo. It also comes with a backup camera, automatic emergency braking, and forward-collision warning. You have to upgrade for gadgets such as navigation, Apple CarPlay, and a 12-speaker stereo system.


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The starting price for the 2021 Mini Cooper begins at $22,400. The Mini Cooper does end up costing a bit more than its competitors. Still, some drivers will think this Mini’s driving dynamics are worth the extra cost.