Full 2007 MINI Cooper Review
What's New for 2007
The 2007 Mini Cooper hatchback gets a top-to-bottom overhaul. Visually, you'll be hard-pressed to notice, as Mini wanted to keep the car's iconic styling intact. But the car is a little bigger than before and has a new interior and new engines. The Cooper S hatchback gets a new 172-horsepower turbocharged engine, while the base Cooper hatchback is now up to 118 hp. The Cooper convertible remains unchanged, save for the addition of a new option package. Called the Sidewalk, the package offers unique alloy wheels, special interior trim and unique leather upholstery, along with features like stability control, a center armrest and a Harman Kardon sound system.
Technically, the Mini Cooper falls into the compact hatchback or convertible category, but this British icon, resurrected by BMW, really belongs in a class of its own. Its teacup-sized dimensions and unabashedly cute silhouette have made it arguably the most recognizable vehicle in the world.
The Mini Cooper hatchback gets a redesign for 2007, and its current incarnation is the best yet. The changes made to its exterior are subtle, with Mini wisely leaving the car's classic styling intact. The 2007 Cooper hatchback is just over 2 inches longer than its predecessor; crash test standards called for a slightly longer nose and taller hood, but these changes are all but invisible, having been balanced by tweaks made elsewhere to the car's proportions. Weight reduction measures have also kept the car's curb weight in check.
The biggest revisions take place within the 2007 Mini Cooper hatchback's cabin. The central speedometer is bigger, and is now home to the car's radio controls and display. Many of the car's controls have been relocated, and the layout is now more user-friendly. The center stack has been narrowed; as a result, the foot wells are roomier and more comfortable for those with larger feet. Overall, the hatchback's interior boasts a cleaner, more upscale look.
Both Cooper hatchback trims get new engines. The Cooper S hatchback is now powered by a turbocharged engine that generates 172 hp and 191 pound-feet of torque. The base Cooper hatchback gets its juice from a new inline-4 that generates 118 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. The Cooper's front-wheel-drive layout and sporty handling demeanor remain intact, but a retuned suspension and new run-flat tires have made the car more forgiving over bumps and road irregularities. The Mini Cooper hatch also makes the switch to full electric power steering, but thanks to careful tuning by BMW engineers, it doesn't lose any of its trademark steering feel.
Mini's drop top, which remains basically unchanged this year (with a redesign coming in 2008), pairs the thrill of open-air driving with the ultra-cute good looks that have made the Mini so popular. Lowered in 15 seconds, the Mini Cooper Convertible's soft canvas top not only folds completely away at the flip of a switch, it can also slide back up to 15 inches at the front for those days when you don't want to go completely topless. With the top lowered, there are more than 4 cubic feet of cargo space in back (6 with the top up) -- not bad for a four-seater that's less than 12 feet long.
If you're shopping for a small coupe/hatchback or convertible, naturally the 2007 Mini Cooper isn't the only compact to consider. With almost twice as much cargo room, the Honda Civic coupe is more practical than the Cooper, though it's no match when it comes to style. The Volkswagen New Beetle (available, like the Cooper, as a hatchback or a huggably adorable convertible) is perhaps the Cooper's only rival when it comes to distinctiveness, but the Cooper is miles ahead in terms of handling. For buyers who can give up a backseat, the rear-drive Mazda MX-5 Miata and Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky twins are also worth consideration. Still, if you're looking for a compact that offers singular looks and a fun-to-drive personality, the 2007 Mini Cooper is your best bet.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
Buyers of the 2007 Mini Cooper have the choice of two body styles: a two-door hatchback and a two-door convertible with a power-operated top. Both configurations come in two trims: base and "S." The base Cooper comes with 15-inch wheels, leatherette upholstery (cloth is a no-cost option), a tilt steering wheel, a centrally mounted speedometer, a tire-pressure monitoring system, air-conditioning with micron filtration, a six-speaker CD stereo and power windows, locks and mirrors. The Cooper S adds 16-inch wheels with run-flat performance tires, firmer suspension tuning, sport seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. All Mini Cooper convertibles are equipped with rear parking sensors.
A wide range of customizing packages is available, along with options like a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, seat heaters, a navigation system and a Harman Kardon sound system. The Sport Package is a popular add-on for all Mini Coopers. On regular Coopers, it provides firmer suspension tuning, 16-inch wheels with run-flat tires, xenon HID headlights and stability control. On the Cooper S, there's no change in suspension tuning, but you size up to 17-inch wheels. New items available on the redesigned hatchback include the Hyper-Sport Package (with a lower body kit and thicker antiroll bars), keyless startup and high-definition radio.
Powertrains and Performance
Since the hatchback is all-new this year, while the convertible is a carryover, there are four different engines available on the front-wheel-drive Mini Cooper in 2007. Motivating the base Cooper hatchback is a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 118 hp. The base Mini Cooper convertible has a different 1.6-liter engine rated for 115 hp. The base hatchback comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The base convertible has a five-speed manual as standard, with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) available as an option.
The sporty Mini Cooper S hatchback uses a turbocharged version of the newer 1.6-liter engine, allowing it to pump out 172 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. The Cooper S convertible has a supercharged 1.6-liter capable of 168 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on both versions of the Cooper S, with a six-speed automatic optional.
All 2007 Mini Coopers come with antilock disc brakes and a tire-pressure monitor. The S model also includes traction control, and should you equip either model with the Sport package, you'll get BMW's Dynamic Stability Control. Other standard safety features include a tire-pressure monitoring system, side airbags for front occupants and full-length side curtain airbags in the hatchback. The Mini Cooper convertible features fixed roll bars perched just behind the rear seat.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Cooper's cabin is just as distinctively stylish as its exterior. A saucer-sized speedometer dominates the dash. In the hatchback version, buttons on the center stack are arranged in a shape that echoes that of the Mini logo; switchgear is ergonomically arranged, save for the climate control buttons, which are inconveniently placed. The convertible's interior is attractive enough, but some of the plastics used are low in quality. As you'd suspect, the Mini Cooper isn't big on passenger or cargo room; still, even taller drivers should find its cabin livable, if not spacious.
Engine power is modest in all versions of the 2007 Mini Cooper. All of the cars get by just fine in traffic, but the new engines in the hatchback are smoother, with meatier power bands. Notably, the turbocharged engine in the Cooper S hatch has a stronger low-rpm kick than the supercharged motor in the Cooper S convertible, though Mini purists may miss the old car's characteristic supercharger whine. Both generations of the Cooper offer lively handling, particularly when equipped with the Sport Package. Responses to driver input are quick, and the Cooper sucks its driver into the experience, delivering lots of feedback through the steering wheel, driver seat and pedals. The hatchback's revised suspension and upgraded run-flat tires provide a better-controlled ride over bumps and ruts.
Read our Mini Cooper S Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test