2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Review: Expensive Fun

When it comes to charging more for less, Porsche may be the undisputed king but Mini is certainly trying to usurp the throne. Mini's range of Cooper Hardtop variants is among the most expensive when it comes to hatchback offerings in the USA. Nevertheless, much like with Porsche, nobody does what Mini does the way it does. Available with either a 1.5-liter three-cylinder producing 134 horsepower or in S flavor with a 2.0-liter four-pot generating 189 horses, the Cooper range is not all about big power but rather unique style and brilliant, go-kart-like handling, setting it apart from bigger rivals like the Kia Soul and Volkswagen Golf. Still, justifying its price can be tricky, so let's see if there's any logical reason to buy a new Mini Cooper Hardtop.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Cooper Hardtop?

The 2021 Mini Cooper sees the six-speed manual transmission return to the lineup - something sure to make driving enthusiasts happy. In addition, the relatively affordable Oxford Edition model that was previously only available to recent college graduates and members of the US military is now available to all. The Signature sub-trim offers a new package, which adds a touchscreen navigation system, eCall, TeleService, remote services, and more. For this same sub-trim, a digital instrument cluster is available and bundles together with navigation.

Pros and Cons

  • Brilliant handling
  • Manual gearbox option
  • Unique style
  • Plenty of customization options
  • Very economical engines
  • It's expensive
  • Standard features are minimal
  • Rear-seat passengers will be uncomfortable
  • Rivals offer more for less

Best Deals on Cooper Hardtop

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Cooper 2-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,400
Oxford Edition 2-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,400
Oxford Edition 4-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,400
Cooper 4-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,400
Cooper S 2-Door
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,400

Cooper Hardtop Exterior

The Mini Cooper is one of the few retro cars on sale that still pulls off the blend of old and new with style. The rounded front headlights feature LED rings as running lights on most versions while the tails display a unique Union Jack design that helps the car stand out at night. A panoramic roof on upper trims is a nice touch too. Wheels range in size from 15 inches to 18 inches while sportier S models boast a hood intake and a central exhaust exit with two tailpipes. These models also have unique bumpers, but all models get fog lights and black plastic moldings in the wheel arches.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Front View Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Rear View Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Rear Angle View Mini
See All 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Exterior Photos

Dimensions

As you'd expect, the Mini Cooper has very compact dimensions, although it has swelled since the original. The whole car is just 68 inches wide excluding the mirrors, while the wheelbase only takes up 101.1 inches for the 4-door Mini Cooper Hardtop and 98.2 inches for the 2-door. Height is measured at 56.1 inches (55.7 inches for the two-door variant) while length from end to end is 157.4 inches on the Cooper and 158 inches on the Cooper S. The two-door Mini Cooper is the shortest model and has a length of just 151.1 inches. Curb weight also varies, with the 2-door Hardtop Mini starting at 2,767 pounds and 2,862 lbs for the S. Four-door models weigh 2,870 and 2,989 lbs respectively.

  • Length 151.1 in
  • Wheelbase 98.2 in
  • Height 55.7 in
  • Max Width 68.0 in
  • Front Width 59.1 in
  • Rear Width 59.1 in

Exterior Colors

Depending on the sub-trim selected, color options can vary. For the base Classic version, Moonwalk Grey is your free choice while Chili Red, Pepper White, and Midnight Black cost $500 extra. Signature models offer the same colors at no charge along with Solaris Orange, White Silver, Starlight Blue, and British Racing Green IV Metallic. At this trim level, the roof and mirror caps can either be finished in body-color, black, or white, with choices varying slightly according to the primary paint color selected. The top Iconic sub-trim builds on this with the option of special Mini Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic paint as a choice. Numerous options are available for the mirror caps too, including the choice of a Union Jack design in the classic white, red, and blue of the British Empire, while the option of different stripe colors can help you make the car more your own.

  • Pepper White
  • Chili Red
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Starlight Blue Metallic
  • British Racing Green IV Metallic
  • Melting Silver Metallic, Build Out: 07/31/2020
  • White Silver Metallic
  • Special Order Color
  • MINI Yours Enigmatic Black Metallic
  • Moonwalk Grey Metallic
  • Thunder Grey Metallic
  • Solaris Orange Metallic
  • Emerald Grey Metallic, Build Out: 07/31/2020
  • Melting Silver Metallic, Build Out: 09/30/2020

Cooper Hardtop Performance

Two engines are on offer for the 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop, but it's the one in the Cooper S that will be most appealing to those interested in performance. This model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor that produces 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel the Cooper S from 0-60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. The regular Cooper is a little less exciting, being fitted with a 1.5-liter three-pot turbo that generates a respectable 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. This model will get to 60 mph from a stop in a claimed 7.7 seconds, but Mini Coopers are about so much more than just acceleration. It's the way these cars handle that really makes them stand out, and there's no way that shunting the little British hatchback around a tight track or through a winding country lane will be free of excitement. Thanks to the recent reappearance of a manual gearbox option, the diminutive Mini is back to its best.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Front View Driving Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Rear View Driving Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Engine Mini

Engine and Transmission

The base three-cylinder turbo engine with its 1.5 liters of capacity is a good companion for the light city slicker, if a little underpowered at higher rpm. Thanks to good low-down response, getting away from the traffic lights with some motivation is easy to achieve, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (this gearbox costs extra on the Classic sub-trim) makes good use of the power band by shifting up and down smoothly and quickly at just the right time. The Cooper S comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission that was formerly not available on the regular Cooper, and this is a lot of fun to play with, although higher rpm will reveal that the engine doesn't like being revved out as it loses some puff on top. The available seven-speed DCT is even quicker and sharper than that in the regular Cooper, but can also be left in Drive for smooth, relaxed shifts. Either DCT performs well in traffic.

  • Engines
    1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas, 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Manual, 7-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

This is the Mini Cooper's party trick and the main reason why those who care little for fashionable, chic cars like this would consider the premium hatchback over something bigger like a Golf in the first place. That short wheelbase and playful chassis make for brilliant handling dynamics, and there is almost nothing to fault in this department. The car turns on a dime with accurate steering that feels good in your hands and provides a decent level of feedback. Mechanical grip is there in abundance and the car encourages you to push harder and make the most of its relatively meager power output. The brakes are also great and will help you correct your line when you run out of talent as they're easy to modulate, even when you're using your left foot to modulate them. The only downside is the car's lack of refinement over pavement that is less than perfect. That stiff chassis may be a joy on the track or a smooth and twisty road, but it makes for jarring disturbances to the ride quality and can become irritating for those who don't care much for handling ability. The feeling is exacerbated on the slightly stiffer Cooper S, but then again, you should only really buy the sporty model if you're into performance. As an all-rounder, the Mini falls short, but as a fun car that does exactly what it's built for, we have no complaints.

Cooper Hardtop Gas Mileage

The Cooper's most economical configuration sees the seven-speed auto mated to the base 1.5-liter engine. According to the EPA, both 2-door and 4-door Mini Cooper Hardtop models will achieve the same gas mileage figures, returning 28/37/31 miles per gallon on the city/highway/combined cycles. With an 11.6-gallon gas tank, the base Cooper will return an average of around 360 miles range with mixed driving. The manual's figures of 26/37/30 mpg are only slightly worse, while the Cooper S with its 2.0-liter power plant will return 23/33/27 mpg on the same cycles when paired with the manual and 26/35/30 mpg with the DCT.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    11.6 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 26/37 mpg
* 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door FWD

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Interior

As striking as the Cooper is from the outside, it's the inside that really shakes things up. Whoever designed this cabin clearly had a thing for circles, with the gauges, cabin vents, gear lever, door-release handles, climate control knobs, and central display housing all featuring their own interpretation of the circular motif. Other cool features include the availability of illuminated dash trim that provides another opportunity for the designers to incorporate the Union Jack. Heated front seats, ambient lighting, and the expansive use of leatherette and soft-touch plastics help the Cooper feel properly premium. However, despite becoming larger and larger over the years, the rear seats of the Mini Cooper hatch are still inhospitable for adults, so take that into consideration if you have a family.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Dashboard Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Front Seats Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Central Console Mini
See All 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Cooper claims to seat four in both of its body styles, but in truth, neither 2- nor 4-door Mini Cooper buyers will keep their friends for very long if they force those people to always sit in the back. Sure, the bigger of the two offers more legroom in the back, but headroom is decreased from its already low rating in the smaller car. In front, even six-footers can find a good driving position and won't have much issue with headroom, but again, this will require the seat to be adjusted almost all the way back, and this can kill legroom for even the small kids that would otherwise be comfy at the back. Fortunately, getting in and out is pretty easy for most, although the rear door openings on the four-door model aren't the biggest.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.4 in
  • Front Head Room 38.3 in
  • Rear Leg Room 30.8 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.9 in

Interior Colors and Materials

As standard, all Cooper models come with a leather steering wheel while Carbon Black leatherette adorns most of the other upholstered panels. A Hazy Grey interior trim finish is standard on the base model while other models get the option of Chesterfield leather in Satellite Grey or Malt Brown, along with Lounge Leather in Carbon Black for $500; however, this upgrade requires other extras, such as the Signature Upholstery Package at $2,000 on the Signature sub-trim. Interior trims can be finished in Piano Black, Fiber Alloy, or illuminated Piano Black. Detailing can also be changed with Glowing Red, Satellite Grey, or Malt Brown accents available. As you move up the sub-trim range, Cross Punch leather in Carbon Black, Chesterfield leather in Malt Brown or Satellite Grey, and a mix of leatherette and cloth in black and Pearl Light Grey are also on offer. An Anthracite headliner is also available.

Cooper Hardtop Trunk and Cargo Space

Cargo space is not the Mini Cooper hatchback's strong suit, with even the more spacious four-door Mini Cooper only offering 13.1 cubic feet of volume in the trunk behind the rear seats. Since those seats are impractical in any case, you likely won't regret folding them. In this configuration, you have 40.7 cubic feet of volume. However, if you rarely carry more than a couple of carry-on suitcases worth of stuff with you, the 2-door Mini with its 8.7 and 34 cubic feet of volume may be more to your taste.

In the cabin, you get cupholders and a space for your phone ahead of the gear-lever, along with narrow door pockets and a characteristically small glove box.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trunk Space Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trunk Space 1 Mini
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trunk Space 2 Mini
  • Maximum Cargo Space
    34 ft³

Cooper Hardtop Infotainment and Features

Features

Unfortunately, there isn't much on offer in terms of standard features for the base Cooper. All you really get here is rear parking sensors, automatic single-zone climate control, keyless entry with push-button start, cruise control, and a relatively large bill. As you go up the range, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and LED headlights/taillights are added, while the top trim adds 17-inch wheels and a digital instrument cluster to this. The S models do at least boast sporty seats that offer more support, while dual-zone climate control and a head-up display are also on offer. On the plus side, at least forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking is standard, and adaptive cruise control, a digital driver display, traffic info, park assist, power-folding mirrors, and front parking sensors are available too.

Infotainment

The Mini Cooper's infotainment system is characterized by a 6.5-inch touchscreen display as standard, which can be operated by a rotary dial based on BMW's iDrive system, too. It features SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system, but the screen can be a little small and tricky to navigate at times. A larger 8.8-inch display is available, which shows images slightly better, and comes with navigation, Apple CarPlay, voice control, and wireless charging, but Android Auto is not offered. Also available is a stunning 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, but this can seem like overkill in such a small car. Still, if you want it and can afford to add such a setup to an already expensive car, who are we to judge?

Cooper Hardtop Problems and Reliability

Thus far, 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop models have been subject to just one recall, but it is a potentially serious one. In May of 2020, the NHTSA told us that the Cooper's airbags may not deploy in the event of a rollover. Fortunately, no other issues have since come up.

Should anything else go wrong, in the USA the Mini Cooper is covered by a limited and powertrain warranty that provides coverage for four years/50,000 miles. An impressive three-year/36,000-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance package is also included on all variants, as is roadside assistance for a period of four years.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles

Cooper Hardtop Safety

The NHTSA has not subjected the Mini Cooper to review for 2020 or 2021, but the IIHS has published its review of the Mini Hardtop for 2020 and determined that the overall rating of the car is Good. That said, the headlights aren't that great and those without LED headlights may be concerned with a rating of Poor here while those with the upgraded illumination option won't be all that happy with a rating of Acceptable. Still, the older 2019 model did at least get a Top Safety Pick award and the 2021 model of today isn't much different.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The Cooper offers an impressive number of airbags that may shame even larger competitors. Dual frontal, side-impact, rollover, and knee airbags are fitted for a total of eight inflatable pillows that protect you in a crash. All models also get rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and forward collision alert with autonomous emergency braking. Available features include a head-up display, park assist, front parking sensors, and active cruise control.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop a good car?

For the price of a car like the Cooper, you'll need to think carefully to justify it as a prudent financial decision; at these prices, you can get bigger, safer, and better-equipped cars, but then again, none of them have the chic style or go-kart-like handling of the Cooper. The base engine, although torquey at low rpm and eager enough isn't all that great for climbing hills or as a model of refinement. Sure, there's the Cooper S that offers more power and even more fun, but this then means you have to put up with a particularly stiff ride. But this isn't a car you buy with your head. Take one for a test drive and really push its limits at every cornering opportunity you find and you'll discover a whole new world of front-wheel-drive fun that even some of the greatest hatchbacks will struggle to emulate. The Cooper is impractical, cramped in the back, short on standard specs, and rather expensive - no, very expensive - but if these attributes don't deter you, it offers a level of fun and quirkiness that nothing else can.

🚘What's the Price of the New Mini Cooper Hardtop?

The Mini Cooper may offer steeper pricing than many rivals, but the 2021 model is actually cheaper than the 2020 equivalents in some cases. The price of 2-door Mini Cooper Hardtop models is naturally the most, and the Oxford Edition is the cheapest, starting at $19,750 excluding $850 for destination and handling. The regular Cooper is a thousand bucks cheaper than it was last year and goes for $22,400. The Cooper S is also a grand cheaper than last year at $26,400. The price of 4-door Mini Cooper Hardtop models starts at $20,750 for the Oxford Edition, $23,400 for the Cooper, and $27,400 for the Cooper S. Fully loaded, however, you can expect to exceed $40,000.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Models

The base model in the range - in terms of specs at least - is the Cooper, and it's available in three- and five-door body styles, named 2-door and 4-door, respectively. The Cooper models come with a 1.5-liter three-pot that is turbocharged to produce 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. The Cooper S variants get a spicer 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot with 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. S models also feature sport seats and a stiffer chassis, and boast a JCW steering wheel in leather. Either is available with a six-speed manual as standard or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as an option.

Each Cooper and Cooper S is then available in three sub-trims, but the Oxford Edition is different and comes with a bunch of added equipment at a lower price than any other variant. So although it's better specced than the regular Cooper, its pricing in the range puts it at entry level. Like the Cooper, this model is only offered with the smaller engine. Nevertheless, it comes with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, 17-inch wheels, and a choice of six paint options.

The regular Cooper comes with 15-inch wheels and fewer paint options in Classic flavor, but it shares a 6.5-inch infotainment display, a six-speaker sound system, keyless entry, push-button ignition, and cruise control with the Oxford Edition.

Next, the Signature sub-trim adds to this with 16-inch wheels, heated front seats, the aforementioned panorama roof, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights and taillights, and more paint options.

At the top-end of the range, the Iconic sub-trim gets 17-inch wheels, additional exterior colors, illuminated interior trim, a digital driver info display, and a Harman Kardon sound system.

See All 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Plenty of visual customization options are on offer across the Cooper range, but one of the more practical optional extras is the Touchscreen Navigation package that is available on Signature sub-trims only, as it is standard on the Iconic. This upgrades the standard setup to include navigation, Apple CarPlay, Mini connected services, voice activation, and a digital instrument cluster. Other available features include a head-up display, dynamic cruise control, and a Harman Kardon 12-speaker sound system. Cooper S models also have access to Dynamic Damper Control, which adds adaptive dampers to the sporty little hatch.

🚗What Mini Cooper Hardtop Model Should I Buy?

Choosing a Mini Cooper variant could take a while, as it will depend on what you want out of the car, but since rear passenger space isn't much better in the four-door, we'd stick with a two-door model. The Cooper S is definitely the most exciting, but its stiffer suspension setup and inflated pricing put the Mini Cooper in the sights of cars like the Golf GTI - this means that we would stick with the regular version. Normally, we'd suggest at least opting for the Signature sub-trim as this comes with LED headlights and taillights, heated front seats, larger wheels, and access to more options. However, since the Oxford Edition is now available to all, we'd go for this model. It comes with a host of extra features, yet it comes with a lower price than the lesser-equipped base Mini Cooper in the USA.

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Comparisons

Mini Cooper Countryman Mini
Kia Soul CarBuzz
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Mini Cooper Hardtop134 hp26/37 mpg$22,400
Mini Cooper Countryman 134 hp26/33 mpg$28,400
Kia Soul 147 hp25/31 mpg$17,490

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop vs Mini Cooper Countryman

Okay, so you've read this whole review and you like the idea of a Mini because of its unique style, brilliant handling, and quirky design but you can't find a way around its small size and limited practicality. Fortunately, Mini is well aware that buyers like you exist and has created the Cooper Countryman just for you. However, this isn't a hatchback and is rather a compact crossover. Still, if you want something bigger, a crossover isn't a bad way to go. In addition to offering between 17.6 and 47.6 cubic feet of volume, the Countryman is also available with an all-wheel-drive system. This may be a concern in terms of acceleration since the Countryman comes with the Hardtop's drivetrain options minus the manual transmission, so it won't be as quick as the smaller car. It also costs almost $30,000 in base form, so it's not that affordable in comparison. However, the arrival of the Oxford Edition at $25,900 could be enough to convince you that a Countryman is still a great choice.

See Mini Cooper Countryman Review

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop vs Kia Soul

Kia and Hyundai are doing great things in the auto industry and their latest designs are truly striking. One such car is the Kia Soul, and although it lacks the retro styling and brilliant handling of the Mini Cooper, its price tag of less than $17,500 is seriously compelling, and much lower than the price of a new Mini Cooper Hardtop base model. In addition, the standard 2.0-liter four-pot makes an impressive 147 horsepower while the available 1.6-liter turbo at the top of the range gives you 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This model still won't break the bank with an asking price of $27,550, . On top of that, you don't have to fold the rear seats if you need a new broom. The cargo area holds up to 24.2 cubic feet of volume, which is impressive even compared to similarly-sized competitors. Fold those rear seats and you get a whopping 62.1 cubes. While standard features may be similarly scant, the low price and impressive cargo volume of the Kia Soul combine with its striking design to make this Korean hard to look past.

See Kia Soul Review
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