2018 Mini Hardtop 2 Door

2018 MINI Hardtop 2 Door Review

The 2018 Mini Hardtop stands out with its playful personality and distinctive flair.
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

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

A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are now standard on all Hardtop models, and last year's Technology package (which added these features) now includes front parking sensors and an automated parallel parking system. A few interior control modifications have been implemented for 2018 as well.

We recommend

A strong case can be made for either the Cooper or Cooper S — it really depends on how you view the Hardtop. Those who primarily consider it a playful, highly customizable alternative to vanilla subcompacts will be happy with the Cooper's fuel-efficient yet peppy turbo three-cylinder. If you have visions of The Italian Job dancing in your head (as we do), only the Cooper S will satisfy your thirst for power and excitement. It strikes a nice balance of ride and comfort, and it's far easier to live with every day than the rougher-riding and more expensive John Cooper Works model.




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.



Trim tested

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.

Driving

The Hardtop's reputation for playful driving dynamics is confirmed, even on this base model. The high level of confidence encourages spirited driving, but the car stumbles during traffic-filled commuting, with unsavory lurches at low speeds from the optional six-speed automatic transmission.

Acceleration

Even in the base model, the Hardtop is one of the quickest cars in this class/price range. With only 134 horsepower on tap from a turbocharged three-cylinder, it manages an impressive 0 to 60 mph time of 7.4 seconds. Our test vehicle was prone to uneven acceleration and unexpected surges, though.

Braking

Stopping from 60 mph required 114 feet, a bit long for a car so small with summer tires. In everyday driving, the automatic transmission causes clumsy lurches as you roll to a stop.

Steering

Steering feel is sharp and direct, great for drivers with a penchant for curvy roads. For the typical commuter, it could feel a bit too busy or quick, particularly on the highway, as it reacts to small or unintentional inputs.

Handling

Even though this is just the base Cooper model, the Hardtop is surprisingly capable when cornering hard. The front tires lose grip first, but it's predictable and controllable. The Cooper feels playful and nimble thanks to its small footprint.

Drivability

The Mini Hardtop is a fun little car to blast through the canyons, but it suffers during more mundane driving. The lurches under slow acceleration and braking are the main culprits, along with a noticeable shudder through the cabin from the engine's stop-start function.

Comfort

The Mini doesn't rate high in comfort, thanks to its emphasis on athleticism. The stiff ride quality can be jarring, partially a result of our test car's optional 17-inch wheels and standard run-flat tires. Less spirited drivers should stick with the smaller standard wheels.

Seat comfort

The optional sport seats provide excellent all-around support for drivers with average builds. Wider body types will likely find the narrow, aggressive bolsters constricting or intrusive. Cushioning is adequate for longer drives.

Ride comfort

The Mini has a stiff ride quality with initial impact harshness that may be attributed to the larger optional wheels and run-flat tires. Enthusiasts will probably be OK with it, but we think most drivers will find it tiresome.

Noise & vibration

At idle, the three-cylinder engine has an unrefined diesel-like clatter. Once underway, it sounds much better, with a pleasant burble. There's a noticeable amount of road noise, and at highway speeds there's some wind noise, too.

Interior

Although this latest generation Mini Cooper is larger than ever, it's still challenged when it comes to interior space and cargo capacity, both of which are smaller than some rivals. The placement of the infotainment controller is far from ideal. You do get a lot of personality, though.

Ease of use

The low-mounted infotainment dial makes operation challenging as it is obstructed by the center armrest and parking brake. The system itself is well executed, as are the many logically placed switches and buttons.

Getting in/getting out

The short (lengthwise) doors and tall opening make getting in and out of the front seats easy, even in tight spots. They do, however, complicate access to the rear seats, forcing an inelegant stoop and crawl.

Roominess

There's plenty of headroom in the front for taller drivers, but the Mini still feels quite compact because of its narrow width. The rear seats are very small, even for children, with little legroom and low-mounted seat cushions.

Visibility

Outward visibility is excellent. The tall side windows and upright windshield afford a nearly unobstructed view, and the mirrors are thoughtfully placed and sized. A rearview camera now comes standard on all trim levels, but there's really no need for one when backing into a tight parking spot.

Quality

For the most part, the Mini has excellent interior materials, using less hard plastic than competitors. We did detect occasional creaks, and that tends to slightly diminish the overall impression of quality.

Utility

Cargo space is tight, at a tiny 8.7 cubic feet, as is interior storage with small but numerous bins. Maximum cargo is slightly above average at 38 cubes. A clever trunk floor panel keeps the load surface flat and hides a bin underneath.

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.