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2023 MINI Cooper S Hardtop: What's It Like to Live With?

Is there still room for the compact hatchback from BMW?

MINI Hardtop 2 Door 2023
Odometer:Average MPG:

Latest Highlights (updated 09/28/22)

  • We got a Mini Cooper S!
  • Follow along as we rack up the miles over the next 12 months
  • We're keeping an eye on fuel economy early on
  • We got 38.2 mpg on a single tank thanks to smooth sailing on highways
  • How comfortable is our new Mini? Check out our new section to find out

What We Bought And Why

by Nick Yekikian, News Editor

Our test vehicle: 2023 Mini Cooper S Hardtop 2 Door
Base MSRP: $30,900
MSRP as tested: $33,700

A 2023 Mini Cooper S is joining our long-term fleet for an entire year. It's in a classic shade of British Racing Green and comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that makes 189 horsepower and 201 lb-ft of torque under the hood. That power is routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the front wheels only.

What Did We Get?

We went with the S trim for a little extra verve, but considered the John Cooper Works model a bit too expensive and specialized for what we wanted out of our time with the Mini. The Cooper S is a popular trim level, so this gives us a chance to test a car that tens of thousands of buyers a year feel is the best fit for them. Will we think the same? Only time will really tell.

Our new Mini also comes with a few optional goodies like a head-up display, built-in navigation and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. All in, this Mini costs $33,700. That's comparable to other cars in its segment like the Honda Civic Hatchback and even the Volkswagen Golf GTI in its base S trim.

Why did we get it?

Why did we go for something so niche? Well, there are plenty of reasons, but the biggest one is we wanted to see if, in 2022, Mini still has some of the charm that made the original so popular. Call us selfish, but sometimes these things are worth sussing out. So is it still a hot-hatch contender, or just an impractical appliance? We have 12 months and 20,000 miles to go so that we can find out for sure.

Mini loaned Edmunds this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.

2023 MINI Cooper S Hardtop: Real-World Fuel Economy

We've clearly been having a little bit of fun with the Mini so far. We're eating up fuel slightly faster than we expected given the EPA estimates. So far we've averaged 23.6 miles per gallon even though the EPA says we should get 27 mpg combined. Keep in mind, however, that the Mini spends most of its time on city streets, squeezing through gaps in traffic and into tight parking spaces. As a result, our average is far closer to the EPA's city estimate of 23 mpg. All in all, we don't feel too bad about how we've done so far, and if we end up stretching the Mini's legs on a few long road trips, that number will most certainly see a slight bump.

Average lifetime mpg: 26.4
EPA mpg rating: 27 combined ( 23 city / 33 highway )
Best fill mpg: 38.2
Best range (miles): 379.0
Current odometer: 3,728

2023 MINI Cooper S Hardtop: Performance

Does the Cooper S have enough get-up-and-go?

Bottom line: Is the Cooper S fun to drive?

Josh Sadlier isn't thrilled by the Cooper's looks, but he's won over by its performance:

"Stylistically, BMW's first two Mini generations were such home runs, especially the original R50 from 2002, that a letdown was probably inevitable. Still, I've never been able to make peace with the way the current F56 looks. It's bulbous and overgrown where its predecessors were clipped and tidy. There's only one way our F56 long-termer could win me over, and that's by providing the same rambunctious driving experience that set its predecessors apart. Well, guess what: It does. From behind the wheel, where of course you don't have to look at the thing, it's a riot. The throttle's super sensitive, the transmission can't wait to downshift, and the turbo motor just wants to go go go. Oh yeah, and that characteristically twitchy Mini steering? Present and accounted for. The styling is what it is, but I'm relieved to report that the Cooper S continues to drive like a Mini should."

2023 MINI Cooper S Hardtop: Comfort

The MINI is small but does that mean it's uncomfortable?

How are the seats in the Mini?

"The seats are (surprisingly?) comfortable! I'm 6-foot-1 and won't confuse the Mini for 'roomy', but the vehicle makes decent use of its space. It also offers padding on areas where your knees would otherwise meet hard plastic — something high-priced vehicles don't always do." — Jake Sundstrom, editor, CarMax

We haven't been blown away by the climate control

"The air conditioning on this vehicle is not good. A mild heat wave in Orange County (read: 82 degrees Fahrenheit) required the max AC function to properly cool the vehicle — it also needed to be reactivated to keep it cool. Keep that in mind if you live somewhere it gets proper toasty." — Jake Sundstrom, editor, CarMax