2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Rear Angle View
2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Dashboard

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.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 9 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 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

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.

Best Deals on 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop

2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Cooper 2-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
Oxford Edition 2-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
Oxford Edition 4-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
Cooper 4-Door
1.5L Turbo Inline-3 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
Cooper S 2-Door
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Manual
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Trims and Specs

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.

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 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
Kia Soul

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.

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