2012 MINI Cooper Review
2012 MINI Cooper Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- 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.
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.
Thanks to British character and German engineering, the 2012 Mini Cooper is a great pick for a small coupe or convertible.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2012 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $4.15 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Avg. Compact Car
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.
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.
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.
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.63 out of 5 stars
Rocket on wheels
2012 MINI Cooper 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!
2 out of 5 stars
MINI is a big LEMON
2011 MINI Cooper S 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
You could buy a MINI...or you could throw a pile of cash into a burning dumpster and get the same value. I have a 2011 MINI S, with 63k miles. Car is CONSTANTLY in need of repair. To date, I've replaced the ignition coils and spark plugs three times apiece--THREE TIMES!-- plus hoses, a water pump, drive wheel, fly wheel, water pump pulley, and the AC compressor. Now, the radio is fried … and the replacement is $1,000.00 installed. It's hugely expensive and frustrating, and I would NEVER buy another MINI. I've spoke with the customer relations team several times, and although they are very nice and do their best to placate customers, that's all they do--placate you. There is never an actual solution provided. I'm hoping a class-action suit is filed against MINI soon, because I believe they are defrauding consumers with poorly-built cars and hiding the true costs of ownership. This is the worst ownership experience I've had in 25+ years of driving.
4 out of 5 stars
2011 Mini Cooper Update
2011 MINI Cooper S 2dr Convertible (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I have to update the 2011 Mini Cooper review I had previously posted a a Money Pit. It has gone for a great many months without any repairs whatsoever other than routine maintenance. Apparently it was not fairing too well as a garage queen and now that it ha been driven everyday as a back and forth to work car it seems to be thriving and it just keeps on going day after day without the … need for anyt repairs. As previously mentioned, it is so fun to drive always and now that all the kinks seem to have been ironed out of it, it feels like a car I will be wanting to keep for a great many more years. Even if I were to get a larger and safer car for back and forth to work, I would still keep the Convertible Mini just because it is so much fun. Advice? Drive it every day to keep it in shape!
3 out of 5 stars
Wish I had read up more on the common problems....
2011 MINI Cooper 2dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl 6M)
I bought my 2011 manual base Cooper with 35,000 miles on it....now, at 54,000 miles, it has had a failure of two coils. This turns out to be VERY common with Minis when you go to the various forums. The car will sputter on acceleration, take up to 10 seconds to turn over in the morning, etc. and the problem only worsens unless tended to. Cost at an independent mechanic to fix? … $650. Another common problem is dirty injectors at this point. Oh, and it needs a full synthetic oil....so, when you were hoping to get the $19.99 oil change at Car-X, it quickly triples that cost. :/ And the brakes are about gone now, too, despite mostly highway driving. And the worst part? Don't get a flat tire. There is NO SPARE. NONE. The only good part of this car is the gas mileage, but even then, it's not as good as other manuals out there. I get about 33 mpg with, as I said, mostly highway driving.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2012 MINI Cooper, so we've included reviews for other years of the Cooper since its last redesign.
2012 MINI Cooper Convertible Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 27 City / 35 Hwy / 30 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal. capacity
- 4 seats
- Type: front wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Inline 4 cylinder
- Horsepower: 121 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 114 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 4 yr./ 50,000 mi.
- Length: 146.6 in. / Height: 55.7 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 66.3 in.
- Curb Weight: 2,701 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 6.0 cu.ft.
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriverNot RatedPassengerNot Rated
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriverNot RatedPassengerNot Rated
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk 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.
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 S is priced between $9,500 and$18,990 with odometer readings between 30444 and104446 miles.
- The Used 2012 MINI Cooper Base is priced between $7,450 and$17,998 with odometer readings between 29042 and113155 miles.
- The Used 2012 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works is priced between $18,590 and$20,990 with odometer readings between 40237 and71694 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 60 used and CPO 2012 Coopers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,450 and mileage as low as 29042 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.
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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.