2008 MINI Cooper Review | Edmunds.com

2008 MINI Cooper

MINI Cooper Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.6 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 118 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 28/37 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 MINI Cooper

  • Replete with British charm and German engineering, the 2008 Mini Cooper is a stylish, affordable go-kart for adults.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Retro British style with modern BMW engineering, incredibly fun to drive, highly customizable, excellent fuel economy, free scheduled maintenance for three years.

  • Cons

    Hatchback's awkward interior controls, scant backseat legroom, squeaks and rattles galore, suspension may be too stiff for some, convertible's limited rear visibility.

  • What's New for 2008

    All Mini Coopers add long-awaited auto up/down windows for 2008.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (21 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Fun to drive, lots of

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Vehicle: 2008 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)

I bought this car used and I am perhaps the wrong demographic to own such a car. If it wasn't so fun to drive, I would hate it- if that makes any sense at all! Noisy on highway, base engine strains when pushed. Automatic trans is clunky on downshifts and has trouble making decisions. This car had some type of solenoid problem before I bought it and found that out later. Very finicky about fuel- Mini will almost spit out anything less than 93 octane. Carbon buildup problems exist and on such a tightly built engine, that becomes worrisome. The Mini, for me, is like someone that you just date but wouldn't marry.



1 of 5 people found this review helpful

Great car

by on
Vehicle: 2008 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)

Has been virtually trouble free and I have 48,000 miles on the car in two years. I am 6'5" tall and it is very comfortable..tons of room. My 6'6" son can sit in the back seat behind my wife on the passenger side. We can fit 5-6 bags of grocery even with four in the car. It accelerates very well with 4 in the car even up hills. Ride is firm but has no rattles. The six speed manual is smooth and the engine improves with mileage. I like it better now than when I got it...smoother and quicker. Still gets tons of looks and comments. People pull up asking me roll down my window to say the car is great. Nothing performs as well for the money and 40+ MPG. Great in snow and cold. Strong heater.




Unreliable go-kart

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Vehicle: 2008 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)

DO NOT BUY A MINI!!! I was excited to pick up my Mini a couple of years ago; it had go-kart handling and almost 40mpg. However shortly after I picked up the car the problems started; engine overheating, windows not rolling up, various engine lights coming on, etc... Each time the dealer would help me resolve the issue, but as this wasn't scheduled maintenance, I had to arrange alternative transportation. In addition we live about an hour from the dealer so it was two hours of driving with my wife following me. This wouldn't have been such a big deal if it wasn't in the shop at least once a month. Moritz would not work with me, and I finally sold the car for a much more reliable Nissan.




Beware of "warranty"

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Vehicle: 2008 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)

I bought my car brand new a year ago -- have loved it despite quirks with the windows (no fix for it yet...supposedly coming in late 2008). Drove it responsibly for 14,000 miles in the year to include a trip across country. Now the clutch is "burnt" and its not covered under the warranty. They are blaming me, which is ridiculous. I would be wary of buying one again.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Wild maus (mouse)

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Vehicle: 2008 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)

This is my second burgundy Mini. My first was a 1967 that I brought back from Europe. Both cars were/are go- carts. The '67 cornered better, but was underpowered. The '08 has the power but it overpowers the steering. No complaints, mine you! Lord, what a fun car to drive. By the way, the title refers to a carnival ride, "The Wild Maus." It would snap your head off your shoulders, if you weren't careful. Read the complaints: Bumpy ride: It is a sports car - dodge them. Limited space: drop the back seats and think again. Odd radio controls: It has a radio? - who knew! I love to hear it purr!




45,000 and still going!

by on
Vehicle: 2008 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)

OMFG THIS THING IS A BLAST!!! From the very get go I fell in love with a car my wife had suggested when I thought of getting a bug... I'm glad I went with the Mini. First of all I commute 184 Miles a day up and down from the mountains. Phx to Payson AZ of an elevation change of over 5000 ft. I needed something reliable and could handle the road and elements. This little car has sold me for LIFE! I love the Tech with the Sports handling. If you're thinking of buying your wasting precious time you could be driving. =)



Full 2008 MINI Cooper Review

What's New for 2008

All Mini Coopers add long-awaited auto up/down windows for 2008.

Introduction

The 2008 Mini Cooper is a "but…" car. It's tremendously fun to drive, but its taut suspension can be jarring on a daily basis. Its compact dimensions make parking and maneuvering through traffic a snap, but transporting four people and their stuff can be an iffy proposition. The modernistic interior is a design student's dream, but an ergonomic specialist's nightmare. The convertible is a whole bunch of fun in the sun, but rear visibility is poor regardless of whether the top is up or down.

All of these "but" scenarios would seem to indicate a car filled with compromises. However, like a good marriage, those compromises bring beautiful rewards. Since its North American reintroduction for 2002, the Mini brand has been in constant demand by a growing, loyal customer base. It is simultaneously a cultural icon, a sales success and a car enthusiast's plaything.

Despite this success, parent company BMW didn't rest on its laurels, completely redesigning the Cooper hatchback last year to address areas of weakness and reduce build costs. The result is a car that rides more comfortably, has better performance and has a friendlier driving position, all without losing the friendly and frisky nature that makes a Mini a Mini. The Cooper convertible maintains its previous-generation architecture for 2008, but its overall goodness goes to show that BMW probably could've waited a few more years before it conducted its redesign of the coupe.

The changes made on the new-generation Mini coupe (they'll eventually show up in a redesigned convertible) are best seen in the engine bay. A pair of new engines are more refined, more powerful and substantially more fuel-efficient. The base hatchback engine is a particularly impressive improvement and as such, most buyers should now find the regular Cooper to be more than adequate for their daily driving needs. The excellent turbocharged engine in the Cooper S is practically overkill. The convertible is a different story, and with the drop top we'd stick with the supercharged Cooper S.

Regardless of the generational differences between body styles, we wholeheartedly recommend the 2008 Mini Cooper. Although the Saturn Astra, Volvo C30 and VW Eos and GTI are worth a look, the Cooper oftentimes defies rationality and is a car almost without equal. There are plenty of "but" compromises surrounding the 2008 Mini; however, there's one attribute that's undeniable: It's a blast. No ifs, ands or especially buts about it.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Mini Cooper is available in two body styles: a hatchback coupe and a convertible. The hatchback coupe was completely redesigned last year, whereas the convertible carries over on the same platform introduced for 2002. Both body styles are available in Cooper and Cooper S trim levels.

The base Cooper hatchback comes standard with 15-inch alloy wheels, a selectable Sport setting for steering and accelerator response, full power accessories with auto up/down windows, air-conditioning, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, multicolor mood lighting, a tilt-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer and a six-speaker stereo with CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Cooper S hatchback adds a more powerful engine, 16-inch wheels with run-flat tires, firmer suspension tuning and sport seats (optional on the base Cooper). The Cooper and Cooper S convertibles differ from the coupes mostly by offering a power-retractable soft top (with a sunroof function) and rear parking sensors, but do not come standard with an auxiliary audio jack, while the telescoping wheel and Sport settings are not available.

The options list is substantially larger than the car itself, with features available both à la carte and within packages. Mini is one of the few brands that encourages its customers to customize and special order their cars. These features include different wheel designs, a panoramic dual-pane sunroof (hatchback), xenon headlights, cruise control, rear parking assist (hatchback), front and/or rear foglamps, automatic climate control, leather and/or cloth upholstery, multiple interior color schemes, heated seats, heated power-folding mirrors, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition/entry (hatchback only), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an integrated navigation system, a portable navigation system, HD radio, satellite radio, iPod connectivity and a variety of dealer-installed features and styling items. Each body style is also available with its own upgraded audio system: an eight-speaker Harman Kardon system in the convertible and a 10-speaker Hi-Fi system on the hatchback. The convertible can also be fitted with a Sidewalk Package that bundles numerous optional items with special exterior and interior styling elements.

Powertrains and Performance

The Mini hatchback and convertible come with completely different powertrains. The Cooper hatchback comes with a newly designed 1.6-liter four-cylinder that produces 118 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. The Cooper S hatchback features a turbocharged version of the same engine that produces 172 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. Both come standard with a six-speed manual, and a six-speed automatic with manual shift control is optional.

In performance testing, the Cooper S sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. As for the base coupe, Mini claims it'll do the 0-60 drill in 8.5 seconds – but it feels even quicker, especially compared to the previous coupe. Fuel economy with a manual transmission is 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway for the Cooper and 26/34 mpg for the Cooper S. The automatic drops fuel economy by 2-3 mpg.

The Cooper convertible also comes with a pair of 1.6-liter four-cylinders, but they are older, less refined designs. The base engine makes 115 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque, while the Cooper S has a supercharged 1.6-liter that makes 168 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. The base Cooper comes with a five-speed manual, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional. The Cooper S convertible has a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph is accomplished in around 7 seconds in the Cooper S convertible, while the base Cooper is about 2 seconds slower. Fuel economy with manual transmissions is 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for the Cooper convertible, and 21/29 mpg for the Cooper S.

Safety

All 2008 Mini Coopers come with antilock disc brakes and side airbags. The S model also includes traction control, while stability control is optional on all models. The hatchback also comes standard with full-length side curtain airbags. The Mini Cooper convertible features fixed roll bars perched just behind the rear seat. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, the Cooper hatchback achieved the best rating of "Good." The previous-generation hatchback, upon which the convertible is based, also achieved a rating of "Good."

Interior Design and Special Features

Since they technically represent different Mini generations, the hatchback and convertible Coopers feature much different interior designs -- although actual interior space is about equal. While the redesigned hatchback features a much snazzier, modernistic control setup, it's a prime example of something looking great on paper, but working terribly in practice. The audio controls are bunched confusingly into the huge center speedometer, and both manual and automatic climate controls are also poorly designed. The convertible's, on the other hand, are much simpler and user-friendly, even if they don't look as cool. Otherwise, the hatchback's seat comfort and driving position are far superior to the convertible. Although numerous squeaks and rattles seem to be a Mini hallmark, materials and build quality do seem better on the hatchback.

Despite its small size, the Mini Cooper is actually surprisingly spacious for a wide variety of driver sizes. Even those taller than 6 feet will find a comfortable seating position. (The hatchback's telescoping wheel is a big help.) With those tall folks up front, though, rear seat leg space is practically non-existent, even if headroom is ample. Trunk space in both body styles -- especially the convertible -- is rather limited, but folding down the 50/50-split rear seat creates a rather useful cargo area.

Driving Impressions

They may look alike, but under the skin, the two 2008 Mini Cooper body styles are drastically different. The hatchback's new engines are much more refined and efficient, and provide more useful power. Despite its modest power numbers, the base Cooper hatchback's engine provides more than enough gusto for most buyers. The turbocharged version found in the Cooper S, meanwhile, is terrific, providing particularly strong acceleration when the special "overboost" mode is active. In contrast, the base convertible's engine is unimpressive (especially when attached to the CVT) and we'd suggest sticking with the supercharged Cooper S.

Although steering and ride are fairly different between body styles, all Mini Coopers are characterized by their phenomenally fun driving experience. 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 electric power steering makes turning at slow speeds less of an arm workout, while its standard Sport feature tightens it up to match the convertible's constantly stiff, go-kart feel. This sporty nature comes at the expense of a somewhat stiff ride quality, particularly on models equipped with the sport-tuned suspension. But no matter what Cooper you choose, prepare to have fun.

Read our Mini Cooper S Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

Talk About The 2008 Cooper

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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 28
  • cty
/
  • 37
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs