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Mini Cooper S Joins Our Long-Term Fleet

12 months in the Mini. Let's see how it stacks up.

2023 Mini Cooper S

When you think "hot hatch," names like the Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R, and the soon-to-be-discontinued Hyundai Veloster N all likely spring to mind. They're usable everyday, fun to drive when you want to get a little head of steam on, and small enough that they work in city environments while still being practical. They're versatile, capable, and a huge hit with enthusiasts the world over. Well, most of them are. Cue the 2023 Mini Cooper S, the latest addition to our long-term test fleet, and arguably the most specialized of the vehicles named here.

2023 Mini Cooper S

But why would we pick something so niche, you might be wondering. Allow us to avail you, dear reader. Edmunds is based right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Santa Monica, California. Its diminutive size might still make it the perfect, everyday city commuter. An automatic transmission means the burden of dealing with the slog of LA's infamous traffic is mitigated (to some extent), and its small engine means it's a fuel-sipper, a potential boon for buyers who want something both efficient and fun.

How does the Mini work as an everyday machine in the city? Is it too small, or just right, and how much is it going to cost to run after all is said and done? We're going to keep track of all this and more to vet the Mini and see if it's still a perfect little city car.

2023 Mini Cooper S

Secondly, does our test Cooper S really stack up with the likes of the GTI and Civic Si — its most direct competitors despite the latter being a sedan — in performance terms? The S, if you're not familiar, is the midtier performance Mini that slots between the base model and the hi-po John Cooper Works trim. Or does that S stand in for "Sorry about that, old chum, we'll get 'em next time"? We'll wait until we performance test it to pass final judgment, but on paper it doesn't look great for the Cooper S. While the Si and GTI have upward of 200 horsepower, the Mini has to make do with 189 ponies under its bonnet. Sorry, hood. The question of whether it can keep up with its natural competitors is one we'll answer in our time with the Mini.

Lastly, and this is potentially the least measurable of all metrics, does the Mini still have that razor-sharp feel to it? Is the charm that Alec Issigonis (the original Mini's engineer) and John Cooper endowed those early cars with here, or is the Mini just an A-to-B appliance like so many other cars? We don't know, but we're are certainly determined to find out over the next 12 months.

2023 Mini Cooper S

Over the course of our test we'll log reliability, talk about the dealership experience, get real-world fuel economy numbers, and much more. Stay tuned for updates — it's going to be an interesting ride. If you want to check out the rest of our long-term fleet, follow this link to see just what else we've been driving over the last year.

Edmunds says

It might not seem like an obvious choice, but we're excited about the prospect of a year with the Mini.