2012 MINI Cooper Review

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.
List Price Range
$12,490 - $16,500

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

2012 Highlights

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.

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 MINI Cooper.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3 out of 5 stars
2012 Base Mini, Manual Trans, Lemon
Kevin,03/09/2016
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.
4.63 out of 5 stars
Rocket on wheels
joejh,02/15/2012
S 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I'm always shocked at how exciting this ride is everytime my foot touches the accelerator. It's the grown-up's go-kart, on steroids. Mario can eat my dust! How did they put such a large herd of horses under that tiny hood? This car literally growls and thunders when I hit the starter. And what's even more shocking is the fuel economy. Still get low 30's even with my happy feet dancing on that gas pedal. And the bucket seats are perfection - I heard BMW has a PhD designing their seats. It has to be perfect in order to keep you in it!
4.25 out of 5 stars
New Mini Owner 2012
marymouse,06/17/2012
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.
5 out of 5 stars
2012 R58
bcz,02/21/2014
S 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
A more accurate description is a 12' S Coupe w/ automatic and LOADED. Bought this car in December 2011 and have driven 42k miles so far. I am a commuter from a rural area into a college town and was looking for an economy car, but not one that was underpowered or cheap. This is likely to be the brand I stick with for awhile, they are SO fun to drive and cannot be beat in city traffic (only two wheels have it better). It feels safe because you know that the car has very respectable handling and power to get you around, and deal with occasional poor drivers on the open roads. Rather expensive based on size alone, it has taken the miles and years of ownership to gain a greater appreciation. *September 2020, still have the car (88k) and no intentions of getting rid of it any time soon. It is no longer a daily driver but a spirited part-time weekender, and plenty of suspension mods have been taking place. Don't get me wrong, we're just enhancing what is already tight and responsive handling...you just get greedy!

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.1%

More about the 2012 MINI Cooper

Used 2012 MINI Cooper Overview

The Used 2012 MINI Cooper is offered in the following submodels: Cooper Hatchback, Cooper John Cooper Works, Cooper Convertible. Available styles include 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M), S 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 2dr Convertible (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2dr Convertible (1.6L 4cyl 6M), John Cooper Works 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and John Cooper Works 2dr Convertible (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M). Pre-owned MINI Cooper models are available with a 1.6 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 181 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 MINI Cooper comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual. The Used 2012 MINI Cooper comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2012 MINI Cooper?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 MINI Cooper trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 MINI Cooper Base is priced between $7,995 and$15,480 with odometer readings between 73073 and96178 miles.
  • The Used 2012 MINI Cooper S is priced between $13,495 and$16,500 with odometer readings between 65935 and95966 miles.
  • The Used 2012 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works is priced between $12,500 and$12,500 with odometer readings between 119231 and119231 miles.

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Which used 2012 MINI Coopers are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 MINI Cooper for sale near. There are currently 10 used and CPO 2012 Coopers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,995 and mileage as low as 65935 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 MINI Cooper.

Can't find a used 2012 MINI Coopers you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used MINI Cooper for sale - 11 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $22,243.

Find a used MINI for sale - 7 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $23,859.

Find a used certified pre-owned MINI Cooper for sale - 10 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $20,146.

Find a used certified pre-owned MINI for sale - 5 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $23,574.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 MINI Cooper?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out MINI lease specials
Check out MINI Cooper lease specials