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BMW Mini Cooper


This week I have a BMW Mini Cooper.

Target market: urban 20-somethings without children.

Cost: $22,000 for the base coupe (2 doors)


  • Small, easy to park
  • Easy on gas (BMW claims 29 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, but I seriously doubt it)
  • Good handling, predictable steering, no body roll in turns, good brakes, tight turning radius
  • Firm, responsive ride
  • Good visibility front and sides
  • Strong A/C and heater
  • Full-length moonroof with retractable sunscreen and pop-up leading-edge bug deflector
  • Bright headlights
  • Good historical reliability, which runs counter to BMW’s usual unreliability
  • “Cute” styling


  • Weak 1.6-liter base engine requires heavy throttle to get moving, reducing fuel efficiency
  • Small, inaccessible back seat only suitable for groceries and backpacks
  • Tiny “trunk” holds two sacks of groceries or two backpacks, max
  • No headroom for people taller than 1.8 meters, no ability to raise or lower seats
  • No sliding metal cover for the moonroof, only the perforated fabric sunshade, so the interior can’t be truly dark in the daytime
  • No provision for roof racks, which are a must, given the lack of interior space
  • Ridiculous dashboard design with a giant, soup-plate-sized speedometer mounted in the center, with the radio built into the lower half of it, and only a small tachometer/digital speedometer/odometer in front of the steering wheel
  • Tiny, incomprehensible radio controls (no obvious way to switch between AM and FM bands, and the radio randomly selects one band or the other when you turn it on, with no way to change it)
  • Roller-wheel fan and heat controls, instead of more conventional knobs
  • Airplane-style switches mounted on the lower console and the header, separated by tubular dividers, to control windows, door locks, lighting, and moonroof
  • Poor visibility to rear and rear quarters
  • No “fisheye” glass on the side mirrors, making it difficult to see the left and right rear quarters
  • Spring-loaded doors keep trying to close on you, even on flat ground
  • Door handles have an inner latch requiring you to squeeze the handle instead of simply pulling the door open
  • Sits very low, so it can be difficult to get up and out of the car

 Overall, it would be a fine car for people who only need to move themselves and their briefcase, backpack or groceries in an urban area. But you would probably do well to look at similar vehicles like:

  • Kia Soul
  • Toyota Matrix
  • Nissan Versa
  • Nissan Juke
  • Hyundai Veloster
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Honda CR-Z
  • Mazda 3
  • Fiat 500
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Volkswagen Beetle

before buying a Mini Cooper. The Mini Cooper Clubman or Countryman models have 4 doors, making them more useful, but then you’re moving away from the “cute” style factor that typical Mini buyers want. And in my observations, people who buy the Mini are usually interested in the styling and not so much the substance. BMW should also supply a fez with each Mini Cooper, because the Mini Cooper is really just a stylish clown car.

  1. Sweetie Pie permalink
    2013-06-28T13:20:30+00:00 13:20

    What’s my next car Marvin? What do you see me in? And what color? ;)


    • 2013-06-29T06:15:18+00:00 06:15

      I see you in a red Subaru Forester. Practical, stylish, functional, and plenty of room for Charlotte.


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