2017 MINI Hardtop 2 Door Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- All available engines blend quickness and fuel efficiency
- Nimble handling helps keep the Mini glued to the road
- Lots of available add-ons mean a high degree of personalization
- Interior looks classy and upscale
- Ride can be stiff and jittery, especially with larger tires
- Manual transmission has a vague clutch and shifter
- More expensive than most rivals
The 2017 Mini Hardtop's small footprint, low center of gravity and light weight give it excellent handling characteristics. This is a fun car to drive no matter which engine powers it. Even just zipping around town, it feels playful and engaging, and parking in tight spots is a cinch. Along curvy roads, the Hardtop feels taut and tenacious, clawing for grip with rare enthusiasm.
The trade-off for its sharp handling, however, is a firm ride quality that borders on harsh, especially with the JCW version or larger wheels specified. Ordering the adaptive suspension dampers for the JCW is highly recommended, as we've found them to noticeably smooth out the ride. We've also noticed that the four-door Hardtop, with its longer wheelbase, is a bit more comfortable than the two-door and sacrifices little in the way of performance. Both body styles are relatively quiet at highway speeds, although we've heard interior panels squeak and creak over hard bumps.
The base engine provides impressive power considering its diminutive size. It loses some steam at higher rpm, but for most drivers it's a very solid pick. Both turbocharged four-cylinder engines have the Mini punching above its class, allowing it to keep up with larger cars such as the Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The automatic transmission is smooth and shifts quickly, while the manual can be a bit difficult to drive because of its vague clutch action, long throws and imprecise gates. The automatic engine stop-start function can be distractingly rough as it brings the engine back to life after a stop. Fortunately, it's easy to disable via a toggle switch, and the car remembers your preference between drives.
Step into the 2017 Mini Hardtop and you'll find a cabin with materials of a higher quality than those in other small cars. Soft-touch plastics coat the doors and dashboard, which can be customized with several different trim coverings. Ambient lighting on the doors changes color depending on which driving mode is selected.
The Mini's controls are easy to reach, and the toggle switches on the lower part of the center stack are a cool touch. We like the Hardtop's easy-to-read gauges, and the available 8.8-inch central display screen is notable for its sophisticated feature set and exceptionally crisp graphics. Similar to BMW's iDrive, the display is operated by a controller knob on the center console. It takes some time to learn how to use, but overall it's a comprehensive and very useful system. One downside is that when you lower the center armrest, it's nearly impossible to reach the low-mounted infotainment controller.
The Hardtop's front seats offer firm support and an ideal driving position. Whether you choose the two-door or the four-door, though, rear passenger space is pretty tight. Cargo capacity for the two-door measures a puny 8.7 cubic feet behind the rear seatbacks, expanding to 34 cubes with those seatbacks folded down. The four-door expands to 13.1 and 40.7 cubic feet, respectively. Even the two-door's numbers actually aren't terrible for the subcompact class, and as we learned from a yearlong test of a 2014 Mini Cooper hatchback, the car's boxy shape makes it more versatile than you might think.