2018 MINI Hardtop 2 Door John Cooper Works Review
Edmunds expert review
While financial considerations typically drive the purchase of a subcompact car, the 2018 Mini Hardtop is something else entirely. It has the hallmarks of a tiny coupe, such as limited cargo volume and a mostly useless back seat, but the Hardtop has some qualities that justify its high price tag.
Unlike other pint-size runabouts, the Hardtop emphasizes quality. Its elegant cabin is trimmed with upscale materials, and the precision switchgear bears no resemblance to the flimsy buttons you'll find in other cars in the class.
Subcompacts are often a snooze to drive, but the Cooper Hardtop bucks this trend with its excellent handling. It absolutely flies around corners, allowing you to have some fun and do your best Italian Job impression even if you don't opt for one of the more powerful engines. And with more customization options than any vehicle less expensive than a Porsche, your Mini can be tailored down to the design of the mirror caps.
There are drawbacks, of course. With so many options available, your perfect car will be hard to find on a dealer lot, and custom orders can quickly reach stratospheric prices as you add features such as an upgraded engine, navigation and leather seats. And on a more intrinsic level, the small wheelbase, sporty suspension and low-profile tires mean the ride is almost always choppy.
The two-door Mini Hardtop offers far more personality and fun than you'll get in most any other small car, though. If you can set aside the rough ride and limited interior space, you might just find that the 2018 Mini Hardtop is worth the premium paid.
What's new for 2018
Trim levels & features
The 2018 Mini Hardtop two-door hatchback is sold in three trims, each with its own powertrain. The Cooper is fairly expensive for a subcompact, but its high-quality materials and playful personality elevate it far above the rest of the class. The Cooper S adds a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a few performance goodies, well worth its extra cost. The John Cooper Works tops the Hardtop range, with extra power under the hood, an exterior body kit and a sport-tuned suspension.
The base Cooper is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine (134 horsepower, 162 pound-feet of torque) that drives the front wheels via a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission. Standard features include 15-inch alloy wheels, an electronic limited-slip differential, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, keyless ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a cooled glovebox, height-adjustable front seats, simulated leather upholstery and 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks. Technology highlights include Bluetooth, smartphone app integration, a 6.5-inch display screen, and a six-speaker sound system with HD radio and a USB port.
The Cooper S adds a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (189 hp, 207 lb-ft), a hood scoop, dual center-mounted exhaust tips, 16-inch wheels with run-flat tires (regular tires are optional), LED foglights, sport seats and adjustable driving modes.
Going with the John Cooper Works gets you a more powerful version of the Cooper S motor (228 hp, 236 lb-ft) plus 17-inch wheels, Brembo front brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, LED headlights, an aerodynamic body kit, a rear spoiler, a sport steering wheel and special seats with cloth upholstery. The standard suspension is available as a no-cost option for the JCW.
Although there are many stand-alone options, most are bundled into packages, most of which are available on all three trims. The Premium package consists of keyless entry, a dual-pane sunroof and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The Sport package (Cooper and Cooper S only) includes adjustable suspension dampers, 16-inch wheels (17-inch wheels on the Cooper S), sport seats, adjustable driving modes and LED headlights. The Technology package bundles front parking sensors, an automated parallel parking system, a navigation system and an 8.8-inch display screen. The Fully Loaded package (Cooper and Cooper S only) combines all three packages, while a separate Cold Weather package adds auto-dimming mirrors, power-folding exterior mirrors and heated front seats.
Other available features include all-season tires, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control and cloth or leather upholstery. Even more personalization is available through a large selection of custom details such as hood stripes, contrasting hardtop roof colors and special interior trim pieces.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2014 Mini Hardtop Cooper (turbo 1.5L inline-3 | 6-speed automatic | FWD)
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Mini Cooper has received a few minor revisions but our findings remain applicable to this year's Cooper Hardtop.
Noise & vibration
Ease of use
Getting in/getting out
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.