New Mini Cooper review

Category: Small car

The 2024 Mini Cooper gets a refreshed exterior and interior but sticks to the familiar formula

Mini Cooper front right driving
  • Mini Cooper front right driving
  • Mini Cooper rear cornering
  • Mini Cooper steering wheel
  • Mini Cooper boot open
  • Mini Cooper infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Cooper right driving
  • Mini Cooper front driving
  • Mini Cooper front right driving
  • Mini Cooper rear right driving
  • Mini Cooper right static
  • Mini Cooper headlights detail
  • Mini Cooper badge detail
  • Mini Cooper alloy wheel
  • Mini Cooper rear lights
  • Mini Cooper rear badge
  • Mini Cooper front seats
  • Mini Cooper back seats
  • Mini Cooper interior detail
  • Mini Cooper interior detail
  • Mini Cooper seat detail
  • Mini Cooper front right driving
  • Mini Cooper rear cornering
  • Mini Cooper steering wheel
  • Mini Cooper boot open
  • Mini Cooper infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Cooper right driving
  • Mini Cooper front driving
  • Mini Cooper front right driving
  • Mini Cooper rear right driving
  • Mini Cooper right static
  • Mini Cooper headlights detail
  • Mini Cooper badge detail
  • Mini Cooper alloy wheel
  • Mini Cooper rear lights
  • Mini Cooper rear badge
  • Mini Cooper front seats
  • Mini Cooper back seats
  • Mini Cooper interior detail
  • Mini Cooper interior detail
  • Mini Cooper seat detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Let’s get the Mini Cooper cliches out the way, shall we? It’s as English as a cuppa (despite the current German ownership), it’s bursting with retro style and, oh look, it’s got bigger since the original. The Italian Job, The Bourne Identity... you choose the film reference. 

The Mini Cooper is an icon for a multitude of reasons and one of the best-selling new cars on the market – hence the brand has taken a careful yet comprehensive approach in overhauling the model for 2024.

You see, the new Cooper uses an updated version of its predecessor’s mechanical underpinnings, rather than something new that’s been built from the ground up (like in the case of the new Mini Cooper Electric). Your two engine options have been brought over from the old car too.

So, what’s changed? Well, the front lights and front bumper have been redesigned, as has the rear bumper and rear lights. However, the most noticeable and arguably most significant difference is the car’s completely new interior. 

In concept, the Mini might remind you of the Fiat 500 Hybrid but, considering the level of luxury, the key rival ends up being the Audi A1. Other foes include the Seat Ibiza and VW Polo as well as the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris.

So is the Mini Cooper up there with the best small cars and should you buy one? Read on to find out...

Overview

The new Mini Cooper has its charms, being thoroughly stylish, powerful and – for the most part – good to drive. It has its flaws, but the Cooper has always appealed more to the heart than the head. Our favourite variant is the entry-level Cooper C. Sure, the Cooper S’s engine may be that bit stronger and smoother, but the S is no more fun or engaging to drive, unfortunately. What’s more, the C’s unit remains a treat.

  • Stylish interior
  • Lots of performance
  • Nippy around town
  • Ride is on the firm side
  • One of the least practical small cars
  • A fair bit of wind and road noise
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £23,150
Mini Cooper 1.5 C Classic 3dr Auto review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Very strong engines
  • +Agile around town
  • +Largely comfortable ride on small wheels

Weaknesses

  • -Some wind and road noise
  • -Weight becomes an issue at speed
  • -Inconsistent steering

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The entry-level Mini Cooper C has a 154bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine – which is also our pick of the range. It’s a feisty, strong unit, more so than the engine found in the Audi A1 35 TFSI, as well as what you get from most rivals. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in just 7.7 seconds and that's truly remarkable for the entry-level version of a small car. 

If you want more shove, plus a slightly smoother delivery, there's the Cooper S. Its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol has 201bhp for a 0-62mph time that's a second quicker than its 1.5-litre counterpart. On paper, the S is a fiery hot hatch

In reality, the S is more grown up than you might think. Gone are the previous-generation car's juvenile pops and crackles from the exhaust – the exhaust is now hidden from view, in fact – as the Cooper S pumps a plainly synthesised soundtrack from its speakers. That’s common nowadays, but we’ve heard more convincing efforts. 

Another mature thing about the new Cooper S is that, unlike the previous car, it’s only available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox – or rather two of them. The standard auto is good, shifting smoothly and quickly, but it’s rather perplexing that most Cooper S models lack a manual mode.

Mini COOPER image
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No, with both the Cooper S and Cooper C, you need to go for the range-topping Sport trim to get shift paddles on the steering wheel (as part of the "sport automatic transmission"). They're snappy to use and add an extra layer of engagement to the driving experience, but the Sport trim pushes the Cooper S's price beyond £30,000. 

Suspension and ride comfort

Every Mini rides pretty firmly over typically undulating British roads. Thankfully, well-judged damping stops the car feeling like a pogo stick. In fact, the only time it gets uncomfortable is over a particularly vicious pothole or if you encounter mid-corner bumps at speed.

The news isn’t as good for town driving, and the Mini jostles you around a bit on roads that the VW Polo would smother far more effectively. As is often the case, wheel size plays into how good the ride is: the larger 17in and 18in alloys look good but can make the car a little more uncomfortable. We’d recommend sticking to the smaller 16in wheels on Classic trim if ride comfort is important to you.

Mini Cooper rear cornering

Handling

Mini likes to talk about the "go-kart feel" of its cars. This new Cooper even has a Go Kart mode. What that means in practice is quick, darty steering and a grippy front end that makes the car feel pointy and agile – more so than an A1. 

Around town, the Cooper is exactly that, but on fast, twisty roads, its abilities unravel somewhat due to its weight. The Cooper is heavy for such a small car and certain roads bring that to light, with the driver having to manage its heft. On the plus side, body lean remains decently kept in check and it never feels unruly, thanks in part to good balance and solid composure.  

Despite its added poke, the Cooper S is the same story. Like the Cooper, it offers up a largely good, well-balanced, fun drive, but it doesn’t feel as light on its feet as a Ford Fiesta ST or Hyundai i20 N. In other words, there are more exciting handlers out there.  

And finally, the steering is a mixed bag. Around the centre, it feels overly light and a bit wishy washy. In corners, the steering gains some confidence-inspiring precision and weight, even if said weight feels more rubbery and artificial than natural.

Noise and vibration

The engine in the Mini Cooper is remarkably smooth and quiet – slightly more so in the S (as we touched upon). You hardly feel any nasty vibrations through the steering wheel and pedals. 

Wind noise over the relatively upright windscreen and A-pillars is very noticeable at motorway speeds though. There’s also plenty of road roar, especially with big wheels fitted. An A1 or Polo is a more hushed companion.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Good driving position
  • +Comfy front seats offer lots of adjustment
  • +Interior quality up with the best rivals

Weaknesses

  • -Rivals have better forward visibility
  • -Infotainment is a bit fiddly to use

Driving position and dashboard

The driver's seat in the Mini Cooper is comfortable and has a wide range of adjustment as standard. You can get the seat nice and low for a sporty driving position as well – the complete opposite of the tall position the Fiat 500 forces upon you. 

There's knitted fabric across the dashboard and on the insides of the doors – available in a variety of colours depending on trim level – and toggle switches for the gear selector and for changing driving modes. Meanwhile, instead of a start button, there's a plastic knob shaped like a key.

Some people might dislike the overly thick steering wheel, but that's about the extent of our complaints here.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Mini Cooper has reasonable all-round visibility compared to its rivals, but chunky front pillars can limit your view at junctions.

The rear pillars are far slimmer so the view over your shoulder is good and the compact shape means it’s easy to judge the car’s extremities. All Minis come with a rear-view camera, and it's the same with automatic windscreen wipers.

Mini Cooper steering wheel

Sat nav and infotainment

Taking centre stage is a circular, 9.4in infotainment touchscreen. It’s essentially the same one you get with the new Mini Countryman (albeit marginally smaller) and it features Mini’s new infotainment software. 

The graphics are very crisp and there are several brightly coloured themes, but it’s more snazzy than simple to use. The menus could be more logically laid out, plus some of the icons are small and fiddly. You do have standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring at your disposal though.

Quality

One of the previous-gen Mini’s best attributes was its interior: hop in one for the first time and you could immediately tell it was a premium product. With this new one, it’s been given a more modern, minimalistic design that looks properly stylish. 

What’s more, in a class guilty of some rather dark and drab interiors, the fact you can have the seats and fabric portions of the dashboard in a classy light grey or beige is appreciated. The Sport trim gets a sporty red pattern on the dashboard, too. 

It’s a shame there are more cheap-feeling plastics than before, such as on the door and lower parts of the dashboard, but the Mini remains a step above most rivals – the Fiat 500 Hybrid feels a lot cheaper inside. All of your main touchpoints, like the steering wheel, door handles and switchgear, feel great. Build quality is solid, too. 

Overall, the new Mini is on a par with the Audi A1 for quality.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space in the front
  • +Good seat flexibility

Weaknesses

  • -Rear-seat passengers have very little space
  • -Tight opening to access the rear seats
  • -Small boot

Front space

The Mini has the most front leg room of any premium small car we’ve tested because the front seats slide back a long way. There’s plenty of head room up front for most drivers to get comfortable, too, although you’ll find more in the VW Polo and even more in the Honda Jazz.

There are a couple of cup holders and decently sized cubbies up front, including one that has that knitted fabric on it for a touch of extra style and class to go with its practicality.

Rear space

The three-door Mini is tighter than the Audi A1 for rear head and leg room. Its bench is restricted to a maximum of two passengers, too. That does mean there’s more shoulder room for each of them so they’ll be fairly comfortable (assuming they're quite short). They'll find access a bit of a pain, though, as they'll have to duck under the low roof and past front seats that leave a narrower access gap when tilted forward than in some three-door rivals.

Once they're inside, rear-seat passengers will find the seats comfortable thanks to the angle of its backrests. There are storage pockets in the back of the front seats and three cupholders that will take a standard 500ml bottle or a large takeaway coffee cup.

The Jazz is far roomier in the back and would be a wiser choice if you regularly carry rear-seat passengers.

Mini Cooper boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

Pulling a lever on the shoulder of the front seats allows the seatback to fold forwards and the whole seat to slide if you give it a bit of a shove, providing access to the back.

The rear seats fold in an 60/40 split, which includes the cushioned divider between them. When you pull the toggles on the shoulders of the seats they topple forward easily. If you want more rear-seat versatility, the Jazz will be the car for you due to its seat bases that fold like cinema seats to increase vertical space for tall items.

Boot space

The boot in the Mini Cooper is 210 litres, which isn’t as much space as in the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza or Skoda Fabia but is just about large enough for a big weekly shop. It's a good square shape, and you don’t have to lift items too far off the floor to get them over the load lip. There’s also a shallow rectangular storage area under the boot floor for smaller items.

To maximise the available space and accommodate boxier items, you can lock the rear seatbacks at a right angle. When they're folded down, there’s a big step up to them from the boot floor.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Price justifiable for a premium product
  • +Slow depreciation
  • +Good standard kit

Weaknesses

  • -No Euro NCAP safety rating yet
  • -There are cheaper, more practical rivals

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Mini Cooper is a premium product and is priced as such, so it looks a bit expensive when you compare it to more mainstream small cars such as the Renault ClioSeat Ibiza and VW Polo. That’s especially true when you consider how much more space those rivals offer.

That said, the Mini can still make some financial sense, thanks to competitive PCP and leasing offers. Its depreciation is also reasonably slow over three years but an Audi A1 depreciates even more slowly.

On the other hand, some rivals emit less CO2 and return better fuel economy. The Cooper C officially averages 47.9mpg and the Cooper S 45.6mpg. The A1 35 TFSI has an official average of 47.1mpg, sure, but some small cars like the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris – aided by their hybrid systems – can now exceed 60mpg.

Equipment, options and extras

You get a choice of three trim levels and they're the same no matter whether you choose the Cooper C or Cooper S engine. They are entry-level Classic, Exclusive and range-topping Sport.

While they differ in price, they are more cosmetic than anything else, although Sport does get you the sport transmission with steering wheel paddles. If you're looking for kit, that's where the Level 1 and Level 2 packs come in.

The former gets you LED headlights, keyless entry, heated front seats, a head-up display a few other desirable things. It demands a hefty £2,000 premium, but we can see that being justifiable in many people's eyes. 

What's less justifiable is Level 2. It adds a panoramic sunroof and an upgraded sound system, as well as a few other items, but it chucks another £2,000 on top of the already hefty price.

Mini Cooper infotainment touchscreen

Reliability

As a brand, Mini came third out of 32 car makers in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. Only Lexus and Toyota did better.

All Mini Coopers come with a three-year warranty and breakdown assistance, and both can be extended with a variety of cover levels and price plans.

Safety and security

There's a good amount of standard kit to help you avoid an accident, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning. 

The latest Mini Cooper has yet to be crash-tested by safety experts Euro NCAP


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FAQs

  • Mini is owned by parent company BMW but the cars are manufactured in their own factory in Britain and the Netherlands.

  • We recommend going for the entry-level Mini Cooper, the Cooper C in Classic trim. Exclusive might look that bit fancier, but we'd put the money towards the Level 1 equipment pack instead – that way you get heated front seats, keyless entry, a head-up display and some other desirable features. 

  • The cheapest Mini Cooper is the Cooper C Classic, costing from £23,150. For the latest prices, see our New Car Deals pages.

At a glance
New car deals
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Target Price from £22,704
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From £24,200
RRP price range £23,150 - £42,500
Number of trims (see all)12
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric, petrol
MPG range across all versions 45.6 - 47.9
Available doors options 3
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £60 / £2,254
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £120 / £4,509
Available colours