2019 Mini Cooper

By October 9, 2019

Few of today’s cars pack as much stylish charm and driving fun into each roadgoing experience as the 2019 Mini Cooper. Offered in two- or four-door hatchback form, or as a convertible, this pint-size delight is a revival of an iconic microcar from the 1960s. 

For the 2019 model year, Mini Coopers get a handful of changes, including dandy “Union Jack” taillights, among other visual updates. New wheels, leather upholstery, and upgraded interior surfaces mark the 2019 model, and more customization options are available. A new standard infotainment system features a 6.5-inch display.

Small in stature but big on performance, Mini Coopers come with a choice of three peppy engines, riding a suspension that promises tight handling – reminiscent of a go-kart.

Hatchbacks come in retro-style two-door or more practical four-door configuration, each flaunting audaciously classic design. Some observers have deemed the Mini almost cartoonlike in appearance, but plenty of others applaud the continued existence of this eccentric reminder of an earlier automotive era.

Each Mini Cooper is available in three trim levels, according to engine: base Cooper, sportier and more powerful Cooper S, and hotter-yet John Cooper Works edition. Each engine likes to rev rapidly and to corner briskly.

Base Coopers get a 1.5-liter turbo-3 engine that makes 124 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S moves up to a turbo-4 that whips up 189 horsepower and 206 pound-feet.

Mini fans seeking the most raucous, unfettered experience can reach all the way to the 228-horsepower turbo-4, issuing 236 pound-feet, that powers each John Cooper Works model. A JCW version of the four-door hatchback is not offered. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 7.4 seconds with a base model, but near 6 seconds with a John Cooper Works variant.

Each Mini can be equipped with either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. The automatic is the most effective mate for a Cooper S, while the base model works best with manual shift. All Mini Coopers have front-wheel drive.

The NHTSA gave Mini Cooper a four-star rating overall, as well as for both frontal and side impact – plus rollover prevention (a calculated figure). The IIHS rated the two-door hatchback “Good” for each crash-test. 

Active-safety features such as forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warnings are offered in a $1,000 option package, only on the Iconic trim.

Model Lineup

Prices do not include $850 destination charge.

Prices shown are for Classic trim with manual transmission. Steptronic automatic adds $1,250 to base Cooper. Sport automatic adds $1,500 to price of Cooper S or John Cooper Works model.

Classic Cooper hatchback (2-door $21,900; 4-door $22,900) holds the 1.5-liter turbo-3 engine with 6-speed manual gearbox. Standard equipment includes a 6.5-inch display, parking sensors, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, black upholstery, and 15-inch wheels.

Signature Cooper hatchback (2-door $24,900; 4-door $25,900) adds heated seats, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Iconic Cooper hatchback (2-door $29,900; 4-door $30,900) adds navigation, premium leather, LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

Cooper S models gain the 189-horsepower, 2.0-liter engine. Classic John Cooper Works cars get the 228-horsepower engine.

Cooper convertibles have the 1.5-liter turbo-3 engine with 6-speed manual gearbox, and share equipment with like-named hatchbacks.

Mini also offers an extended-length Clubman wagon with barn-style split rear doors, unique taillights, and all-wheel drive. About as spacious inside as a Volkswagen Golf, the Clubman can hold 17.5 cubic feet of cargo with seatbacks upright, versus only 8.7 cubic feet for the regular Mini Cooper.

Exterior

Like its predecessors since 2002, the 2019 Cooper is unmistakably a member of the Mini brand. In terms of retro design, geared toward fun, Mini stands tall. The ever-cute Mini can easily be identified at a glance, even by folks who know or care little about cars.

Interior

Circular elements fully dominate the interior. Instead of the old center-mounted speedometer, the current dashboard contains a touchscreen infotainment system, surrounded by a light ring. Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth compatibility are standard. Toggle switches – quaint vestiges of the past – remain to control certain accessories and ignition on/off.

The Mini Cooper’s front seats are comfortable and supportive, and space is reasonable for so compact a car. Rear passengers aren’t so fortunate. Even in a four-door hatchback, few will volunteer to sit back there for more than a short stint.

Hatchbacks provide a modest 8.7 cubic feet of cargo volume. Of course, that’s gigantic compared to the 5.7 cubic feet available in convertibles.

Driving Impressions

Potent turbo-4 engines might be tempting, but the turbo-3 base model might be even more fun to drive. 

From the start, Minis have been praised for their “go-kart” handling style and capability. The Cooper’s taut suspension and short wheelbase make it a driving delight. Most rewarding of all might be the base model with manual shift, with its light and direct feel.

The Mini’s ride is firm. Even with larger (18-inch) wheels a Cooper copes well with road flaws; still, 17-inch tires improve the ride noticeably.

The turbo-3 hardtop is EPA-rated at 28/38 mpg City/Highway, 32 Combined with manual transmission, or 27/35/30 mpg with automatic.

A two-door, turbo-4 Cooper S with manual transmission is EPA-rated at 23/32 mpg City/Highway, 26 Combined, rising to 25/32/28 mpg with automatic.

Final Word

Inspired by the original 1960 Mini, the 2019 Mini Cooper melds delectable retro design with sharp handling. Passenger space is tight, but the amount of sheer driving pleasure delivered by the Cooper cars makes it worth the snug accommodations.

 

Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

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