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Used 2012 MINI Cooper Base Hatchback Review

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 MINI Cooper Base Hatchback.

5 star(18%)
4 star(64%)
3 star(18%)
2 star(0%)
1 star(0%)
4.0 out of 5 stars
11 reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

3 out of 5 stars
2012 Base Mini, Manual Trans, Lemon
2012 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
I traded in my trouble plagued 2002 Mini, for what I thought was a major upgrade. I purchased my 2012 Base Model Mini with manual transmission last Aug. with 31,000 miles. While driving down to my favorite eatery, shifting from 1st to 2nd shifter know came off in my hand. I managed to replace it and continued on. A couple of days later a aprox. 32,000 miles I began to notice a … clatter from the engine at first start up in the morning, during the next few weeks it became progressively worse. I took it to the local Mini dealer and was informed the clatter was the clutch failing. Being a mechanic for 40 plus years I called BS, told them to keep the car for a cold start test the next day. Low and behold it was determined the timing chain was at fault, these engines apparently have chain tensioners prone to failure. The timing chain was replaced along with tensioners and gears. The dealer Seattle Mini stuck by their story that my clutch was failing and would be 2400.00 to replace, but offered me an extended warranty that would cover the clutch for 1895.00. What a way to cover the cost of the warranty work. About 2 weeks after having the work down, the engine began to misfire badly, had it towed to the dealer, they replaced the coil packs for the ignition, and spark plugs and wires. So here we are today, 41,102 miles, the engine is beginning to clatter again from the exact same location. Under warranty to 50,000 miles. Soon as it gets worse to justify the warranty work and before 50,000 miles back in again for another timing chain, followed by a quick trade in for another car, not MINI. Oh and did I mention that Seattle Mini tried the whole your clutch is failing routine on me a 2nd time with offer of the extended warranty when I took it in for the Misfire problem I mentioned earlier. By the way the clutch still works perfect, however the manual transmission has always been clunky when shifting, the transition from 1st to 2nd requires a firm pull, it also has no reverse lock out, on 2 separate occasions I have been at a light and forgot to downshift into first, while quickly doing so as to not block traffic, it went into reverse. Luckily caught it before I hit someone behind me. Been driving manual for years.
5 out of 5 stars
Great city car !
2012 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
I bought a 2012 MINI Cooper (Base Hardtop with 1.6L engine and 6 speed automatic transmission) for my wife as a birthday present and we absolutely love it ! We've owned it for about 6 months and put 5000 miles on it (had 47k when we purchased it). So far, it's been decently reliable and economical car to own. We've been averaging around 33 mpg under mixed conditions and around 38 -40 mpg … on highways (the computer calculated mileage it displays is usually 2-4 mpg higher, but I'm happy it's getting the advertised mileage from the EPA/MINI). Oil changes are very cheap since it only requires 4.4 quarts and it costs less than $50 for synthetic oil+filter if you're a DIY person. The car has very good visibility and decent cargo storage when you fold the rear seats down because let's face it, you're almost never going to have anyone sitting in the back. The stereo is excellent and all the electronics have been working perfectly. The brakes on the car are incredible which is probably because of how light the car is! The only reliability related issue we've had is a rough metallic clunky noise (sounds like a bucket of bucket of bolts) which turned out to be because of running very low on engine oil. It was particularly evident on coldstarts in the morning and would almost stall when you come to a stop even after the engine warmed up. My initial thought was that it was the infamous timing chain tensioner and I ended up replacing it during the oil change, but the part I removed was perfectly fine so it must have just been low oil causing the issue. Thankfully, the OEM tensioner only cost me $25 and was simple to replace, and I don't have to worry about it for at least another 50k miles. I do not have any oil burning issues, so it might just be that the previous owner did not fill sufficient oil. From a driving perspective, the throttle/engine/transmission combination is sometimes hesitant and sluggish to respond when you take off from a stop, but sport mode usually fixes that. The seats are excellent quality and won't hurt your back on a long road trip. Overall, it's a really fun car particularly in the city (road and wind noise is a little loud at highway speeds) and I'd highly recommend this car to anyone!
4.25 out of 5 stars
New Mini Owner 2012
2012 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
I just purchased a 2012 mini hardtop bayswater package. love the vehicles looks in and out, quite roomy for a little car, the back seat is a joke. think of this as a 2 seater, we keep the seat folded and just use the back for transporting goods for the store or the dogs.
4 out of 5 stars
Love my Mini
2012 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
I bought my car about a year ago, the Bayswater package. It is everything I ever wanted in a car! It's fun to drive, easy to park (I work on a college campus and I can always squeeze it in somewhere), has style and good gas mileage too. I've only had a couple of issues, 1) the service engine light came on after a few months and the dealer said I must have put regular gas in it, not the … premium, and 2) the door is hard to open sometimes. I'm taking it in for a year service next week so I hope to get that fixed. Press the button door locking is my favorite feature. I also drive on gravel everyday and it handles great.

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2012 MINI Cooper Base Hatchback

Pros & Cons

  • Sharp handling
  • stellar fuel economy
  • excellent all-around performance in S and JCW trims
  • endearing retro styling
  • innovative convertible roof
  • highly customizable.
  • Poor rearward visibility in convertible
  • stiff and noisy ride
  • lacks rear legroom
  • weak base stereo.

Full Edmunds Review: 2012 MINI Cooper Hatchback

What’s new

For 2012, the Mini Cooper offers the "Mini Yours" series of high-end customization options. A leather-covered dashboard, unique wheels and leather upholstery with contrasting striping and piping are among those optional highlights. A few more standard features, such as an aero kit for JCW versions and floor mats for all Coopers, round out the changes.

Edmunds says

Thanks to British character and German engineering, the 2012 Mini Cooper is a great pick for a small coupe or convertible.

Vehicle overview

It doesn't come around very often, but driving an eco-friendly car and enjoying the experience needn't be mutually exclusive. The 2012 Mini Cooper is a prime example. It offers up an engaging drive and plenty of charm, all the while returning fuel mileage similar to what you'd get from a boring economy car. As such, it's no surprise the modern Mini Cooper has remained so popular since its debut about a decade ago.

Pleasingly, you needn't step up to the sportiest trim levels to get lively performance. Thanks to the Cooper's light weight, even the base model's 121-horsepower inline-4 provides enough of a kick for most folks. Then again, the turbocharged Cooper S's more spirited acceleration doesn't exact much of a fuel penalty either. Should you want the maximum in Mini performance, you could opt for the fired-up John Cooper Works edition, which provides 208 hp while still maintaining a measure of frugality with fuel.

In addition to making it easy to place on a tight, winding road, the Mini Cooper's small size makes it a breeze to park on crowded city streets, enabling it to snag a curbside spot that most every other car would have to pass up. Yet inside, the Cooper is surprisingly spacious for two people. Adding to its cheeky appeal, Mini offers plenty of factory personalization options and dealer-installed accessories to make your Mini "mine."

But despite this Mini's fun-loving nature, it's not without a few faults. The trade-off for the Cooper's nimble handing is a rather firm ride that may strike some as too stiff. And that backseat? It's barely big enough for kids, as its lack of legroom is almost comical. That said, you can always check out the longer-wheelbase Cooper Clubman or four-door Countryman should you need true four-seat capacity.

Still, should you find the compromises in comfort outweighing the fun factor, you may want to check out the similarly small (though not quite as sprightly) Fiat 500. Another intriguing choice this year is the new Hyundai Veloster; this innovative hatchback is roomier and cheaper than the Cooper. For alternative drop tops, there are the 500 convertible, BMW's more refined 1 Series and Volkswagen's comfortable Eos. But overall, none of these cars can quite match the Cooper's unique blend of personality, performance and frugalness. If those are priorities for you, the 2012 Mini Cooper is hard to beat.

2012 MINI Cooper models

The 2012 Mini Cooper is available in two-door hatchback and convertible body styles. Each is available in three trim levels: Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works (JCW).

The base Cooper comes standard with 15-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, floor mats, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, multicolor ambient lighting and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, HD radio, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Cooper convertible models add 16-inch alloy wheels and a full power convertible top that includes a sunroof feature. The Cooper's Sport package adds 16-inch wheels on the hatchback and 17-inch wheels on the convertible, foglamps, traction control, a rear spoiler, sport seats and hood stripes.

The Cooper S adds 16-inch wheels, a turbocharged engine, firmer suspension tuning, foglamps, sport seats and alloy pedals. The Cooper S Sport package adds 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, traction control and hood stripes. The John Cooper Works includes a more powerful turbo engine, upgraded Brembo brakes, an aerodynamic body kit and cloth upholstery. A limited-slip differential and a firmer suspension can be fitted to both the S and the John Cooper Works.

Major optional features (some of which are grouped in packages) include adaptive xenon headlights, a dual-pane sunroof, automatic climate control, heated front seats, keyless ignition/entry, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, Bluetooth and an iPod interface. Others include different wheels, parking sensors, cloth or leather upholstery, a navigation system and a multitude of different interior trims and materials. Furthermore, a multitude of dealer-installed features are additionally available.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Mini Cooper comes with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine good for 121 hp and 114 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual with hill-start assist is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional. Mini estimates a manual-equipped hatchback will go from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds (9.7 seconds with the automatic). EPA-estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined with the manual (27/35/31 convertible) and 28/36/31 with the automatic.

The Cooper S has a turbocharged version of the same engine good for 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque (192 lb-ft at full throttle thanks to an overboost function). Mini estimates 0-60-mph acceleration in 6.6 seconds for the manual and 6.8 seconds for the automatic. EPA estimated fuel economy is 27/36/30 with the manual and 26/34/29 with the auto.

The John Cooper Works cranks up the turbo boost to produce 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only available transmission. Mini estimates a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds for the hatchback and 6.6 for the convertible. Fuel economy is 25/33/28.


All 2012 Mini Coopers come standard with antilock disc brakes, stability control and front-seat side airbags. Side curtain airbags are standard on the hatchback, while the convertible features pop-up rollover bars and larger front side airbags that extend to head height. Traction control is optional. In Edmunds braking, various Mini Cooper S models with 17-inch wheels stopped from 60 mph between 112 and 115 feet -- excellent results.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the hatchback its best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset test, and its second-best score of "Average" in the side-impact and roof-crush tests.


No matter which flavor of 2012 Mini Cooper you might be interested in, you can expect thrilling handling and quick responses to driver inputs. On the downside, the Mini's ride is on the stiff side, and can be rather loud as well. Opting for the Cooper S or John Cooper Works models further stiffens the ride, leading us to recommend that mainstream buyers forego the sport suspension and larger wheels.

The base Cooper will likely satisfy most drivers, while the S adds quite a bit of excitement and the JCW turns the fun dial up to 11. The six-speed manual transmission is notable for its precise shifter and compliant clutch. The automatic isn't the smoothest-shifting unit in the world, but in Manual mode it responds quickly to the driver's inputs to the shift paddles on the steering wheel.


Of all the ways to describe the Mini Cooper's interior, we doubt anyone would call it boring. The massive center-mounted speedometer is a nod to the original Mini, but in terms of practicality, it comes off as a bit gimmicky. Despite the Mini Cooper's small size, the front seats are surprisingly spacious. There is no shortage of headroom or legroom and the cabin feels extraordinarily airy. The rear seats, by comparison, are much less accommodating, with a notable lack of legroom. Cargo space is also restrictive, at a very meager 5.7 cubic feet, but folding the rear seats flat increases that to a very usable 24 cubes.

The convertible features a sunroof function in which you can retract the forward portion of the soft top as opposed to lowering it completely. The convertible's tailgate-style trunk opening has an upper package tray that can be raised to allow larger items to fit in the tiny 6-cubic-foot trunk. Unlike with most convertibles, the Mini's rear seats can be folded flat to accommodate larger items, but the rollover hoops and soft-top mechanism prevent the loading of bulkier objects. Rear visibility for the convertible is poor with the top down (as it stacks rather high) and even worse with the top up.

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 MINI Cooper in Virginia is:

not available