By on December 14, 2016

2017 MINI Cooper Hardtop

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — just might be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

When the new Mini was introduced way back in 2000, some saw it as a means to cash in on the burgeoning niche of retro-themed cars, then populated by the New Beetle, PT Cruiser, and — erm — Ford Thunderbird. Oh dear.

Since then, the Mini brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to the jacked-up Countryman. It’s shockingly easy to spend upwards of $40,000 on a Mini today, but how does one stack up as a base model at half that price?

Let’s find out.

Under the bonnet is a diminutive 1.5-liter three-cylinder whose turbocharging and direct injection are good for 134 horsepower at a not-sky-high 4,400 rpm — refreshing when so many of today’s engines need a good wringing to summon all the king’s horses. Lashed to a six-speed manual, the Hardtop should make 60 mph from a standstill in about 7.5 seconds.

The trio of cylinders need only motivate 2,625 pounds. A tidy 98.2-inch wheelbase and a quick-ratio steering tiller mean the Mini Cooper darts around like an ADD-afflicted flea on a hot griddle.

Shoppers in a true Ace of Base mindset will find their color choice lacking: the only $0 options are a tasty Volcanic Orange and an oddly titled Pepper White. Everything else is $500 or part of an optional package. Mini does allow customer to choose from four different roof and side mirror color schemes. Body color, black, or white accents are all gratis, while Melting Silver is part of a fancy-pants option package.

A base price of $20,950 includes a raft of equipment such as heated side mirrors and washer jets for the headlights. Some odd ergonomic excrescences persist, as Mini holds fast to their Switches-N-Things™ design language for the centre stack. The centrally mounted dinner plate used to house a speedometer, which looked like a leftover prop from Bill Nye the Science Guy, now displays high-res infotainment announcements. A small set of gauges directly in front of the driver keep tabs on vitals like speed and revs. Bluetooth technology is present and accounted for on the base model.

Fifteen-inch tires and rims are standard, keeping a lid on replacement costs and providing enough sidewall to stave off getting a blowout every time one runs over a pebble. Rust Belt residents take note: all-season tires are a no cost option, replacing the performance tires fitted to the Hardtop 2 Door as standard equipment.

So a true Ace of Base, then? Not quite. I’d spring for the $100 white turn signal kit, shown in the lead photo. This swaps out the standard amber turn signals, residing in the base of each headlamp, for a set which do not resemble infected tear ducts. Considering the level of standard equipment and the price walk to Cooper S and beyond (*ahem* JCW *ahem*), a base MINI Cooper makes a good case for itself in this series.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections and recommend your own.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

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67 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door...”


  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I’m not at all a Mini fan, but if I was, I’d have to go all in and option the hell out of one. My neighbor has one that’s pretty cool looking (for a Mini), but it has a really nice wheel & tire package and sits with a really nice stance (again, for a Mini), as well as some racing stripes. Even though it’s not my kind of car, it’s definitely pretty cool looking.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Nose that little sucker up to your garage workbench for a comfy seat!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Is it elusive on dealer’s lots like the base Golf?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The lowest priced one I can find on my local dealer’s website is just short of $25,000, which would get your a better equipped Fusion SE or an Accord Sport with a CVT. I always thought that Mini asks a lot of money for what you get.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      More like “non-existent” than “elusive.” I searched autotrader.com for 3-cyl manual Minis, and apparently the lowest-priced new Mini Cooper within 100mi of Columbus, OH is $23,550, and it’s a leftover 2016 model.

      The most expensive was a 2016 Mini Cooper Clubman (still with the 3-cyl) for $37,745 at Mini of Cleveland. Ouch.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        I could be wrong but I think most people order one exactly the way they want it. It seems to allow infinite customization with most options available separately on all trim levels. Want sport suspension with 15 inch wheels — no problem. Try that with your Honda.

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          Yep, Mini’s more than happy to spec out your car exactly how you want it. You’ll have to wait a few months, and probably won’t haggle much off the price, but giving you exactly what you want is their schtick.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    4400 RPM peak HP. We are deep into the dieselfication era. A real shame too as triples have great exhaust notes when they are allowed to sing.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    The Pepper White color is almost identical to the color of….white pepper.
    Chef/ MINI S owner

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yeah, when we bought our MINI I swore wouldn’t buy a boring white car. Saw the pepper white and bought one. It’s very different from the stark white most cars come in. Has a soft, creamy sheen to it.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I somehow “lucked” into a Mini as a rental a few years back during the winter (the second gen I think). If ever there were a more inappropriate vehicle for two grown men to drive through winter weather on Midwestern highways, I’d like to see it. Just a horrible experience all around. Wearing winter coats we were basically rubbing shoulders. The drivetrain (whatever engine it was) saddled with the automatic was pretty lethargic and noisy, the ride was poor and the short wheelbase did no favors in terms of stability. I would have happily taken the 35k mile Lancer instead that had been my previous rental low-point. With a 5spd and on fun roads I’m sure the Mini comes into its element. Driving across Midwestern interstates in the winter on business is not its element.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’m quite tall (6’9″) and while I haven’t driven this generation of Mini, I have found that that older ones are actually really good for taller people.

      Admittedly, yes, they’re narrow across.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I have a “parchment” (or is it pepper?) white 09 Clubman S. It’s kind of blah on the outside, even with the black roof and wheel trim. It certainly doesn’t get the looks like my wife’s 03 Cooper yellow with black stripes.

    The Clubman is supposed to become her car so I can get something different – we need something bigger for my 6’4″ tall son and future family additions. But I will miss the handling of the Clubman S, which is actually a stepdown from her ’03 S.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    At half the price, the Fiat 500 offers almost exactly the same performance in a base model without needing a turbocharger to boost three cylinders–offering almost 4x the reliability at a fraction of the price. Even Fiat’s turbocharged model falls well under that base Cooper’s price for the same horsepower and Fiat’s performance model, the Abarth, is very nearly the same price as the Cooper with 40 more horses.

    With the Cooper you get the BMW problems of high price and expensive repairs mixed with a questionable reliability according to actual owners.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Yes, but when I sit in the 500, I feel like I am in the wrong place at the wrong time. The seating position in the Mini is the best I have ever experienced and the seating position in the 500 is the worst I have ever experienced. These two cars really could not be more different, as far as I am concerned.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Well, admittedly seat comfort is an individual analysis but I found the 500 to be remarkably comfortable when compared to my Jeep Wrangler or Ford Ranger with the exception that even with my short legs I had to reach out farther than I like for the steering wheel. Even so, on drives of 300 miles and more I never had any issues or complaints about the seats themselves.

        My wife is 6′ tall with long arms and she found the reach extremely comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Agreed. My wife had a MINI convertible up until our daughter was born and I was always comfortable driving it. My mom has a 500 and I always feel like I’m sitting on a barstool when I’m in that car. It’s a bad seating position for me.

        Plus, the stick on a 500 comes out of the dash…

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      The Fiat starts at 15 grand, so that’s about 3/4 the price, not half. Base engine has 101 hp…which is about 3/4 the hp of the Mini. The base Mini will smoke it. I haven’t driven the 500, and it does seem to be a good value, but if I’m spending your money I’ll take the Mini in a heartbeat. If I’m spending my money, I’d give the 500 a look.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Not so sure the Mini would “smoke it”. I’ve owned the 500 and it’s a surprisingly quick car. Fiat has also lowered the price on the base model (and reduced trim packages) to make them more affordable. Honestly, the 500 is a lot of fun for 101 horses (non-turbo) at 2700#.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      LOL!! 4x the reliability? How do you even quantify that? However, it turns our you’re completely wrong. MINI at #13, and FIAT at #…..whichever LAST PLACE was on CR’s latest list.

      I’m an actual owner, since that’s what you ordered. My experience: 3 years in, and ZERO issues.

      It’s also a class above the FIAT 500, in terms of size and more importantly, in terms of “premiumness.”

      Despite superficial similarities, the two cars are not really comparable.

      Tell me, why is it that MINI sells everything it makes, at full-price, but FIAT cannot give 500s away, at any price? Hmmm?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        CR is no longer a reliable source for new car data; your own referenced numbers show that. I’m an actual owner too, of a ’14 Fiat 500 Pop originally purchased in April of ’14. Never once did that car have to go in for repairs. The only reason I no longer have it is that my family is two people and we had three cars/trucks: the 500, a Wrangler and a Ranger. We needed to keep the Ranger but we no longer trusted the Wrangler (Daimler built) and we needed to retain at least some of the interior carrying capacity AND 4WD. We also simply don’t need three separate vehicles. So we traded the Wrangler and the Fiat for a Renegade. Now we have a good compromise of both vehicles as the Renegade is still quick, agile and gives better fuel economy than the Wrangler as well as significantly quieter and better riding than the Wrangler. We’re happy with our choice and I expect we’ll be keeping it at least as long as we kept the Wrangler (9 years) if not as long as we kept our first-year Saturn Vue (12 years.)

  • avatar
    vvk

    My absolute favorite. I would spring for sport seats, though.

    If all the pickup truck and SUV drivers were raptured off the face of the earth suddenly, this would surely be the car I would drive. Amazing and perfect for me.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    I thought MINI One was the base model, with Cooper being high specification sports models?

    Or have I been reading out of date MINI brochures?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    the only $0 options are a tasty Volcanic Orange and an oddly titled Pepper White. Everything else is $500 or part of an optional package.

    This is a very annoying trend. I was nosing around the GMC website and unless you want white, black, or silver the paint is a $595 dollar option. SERIOUSLY!?!? You’d like me to pay for the privilege of driving a color that won’t be mistaken for part of a rental fleet or law enforcement agency?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I guess they figure if it’s good enough for Porsche, it’s good enough for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I noticed that on the 2017 LaCrosse as well. It is annoying, but unless you’re ordering your car or buying it when it’s just come out, I bet you can get the dealer to eat the $600 cost of the “premium” paint. At least MINI gives you a cool color at no additional charge with the Volcanic Orange. And Pepper White, which is a subtle porcelain color, is also nice.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Oh I’m sure most dealers will eat the cost as well but it just makes you look like a jacka$$ as a manufacturer saying: “Oh any actual “color”? That will cost you.”

        I also chuckle when I see a fairly base vehicle painted an extra cost color. GM had that the “Rain Forest Green” color a few years back and I would smile when I would see a Cruze LS or a Silverado LS painted a color that cost extra. You KNEW the dealer was going to eat that cost on a vehicle that very price conscious shoppers were going to be the primary customers for.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Yes the whole charging for a paint color seems to be the new way to wring more money out of people’s wallets. No wonder why everyone seems to have a black, white or silver car these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      When I bought my Mini in ’09 there were 5 or 6 free colors, sad that they’ve pared that down to two. I mean, you pay extra for black?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “The trio of cylinders need only motivate 2,625 pounds.”

    “Only”?

    The death of the sub-ton car was not reported, and no one showed up for the funeral.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I can’t completely endorse this. $20k for a small car that doesn’t even include Satellite radio? As others have pointed out, a Fiat 500 is a far better candidate for those wanting small car charm and personality. The $20k price of this gets you an Abarth. If you want to get a standard 500, the savings will pay for one of Fiat’s nice long warranties, which you’ll wish you had when your Mini’s runs out. Alternatively for those seeking the Euro option, a base VW Golf is the same price, offers way more features, space, power, and refinement, comparable efficiency, and is still a relative lightweight at 2900 lbs, not to mention a likely desperate dealer who’s probably more inclined to deal to make a sale.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Drove them both when I was car hunting, ended up with the Fiat 500c Abarth. Just liked the way it drove better than the Mini, the price was a lot better, and I don’t particularly feel like I’m giving up my motorcycle on a day when it isn’t motorcycle weather.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I had a similar experience. I was test driving previous generation mini’s and I thought the comparable Fiats were more fun to drive. The Minis were the better cars, but I felt like I had to push them hard to get the most out of them and really have fun. at 8/10 and 9/10 they were quite brilliant and way better than the 500s, but they were not as much fun at 5/10 and 6/10. That accounting for pricing meant regular Coopers were going up against Abarths only made that decision easier. I ended up with an Abarth hatchback.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    My best friend has a 2009 MINI Convertible, and we both agree that it feels too flimsy to be a daily-driver. Ditto for most of the other “previous-era” MINIs, including the Coupe, Clubman and Roadster. However, I drove a deeply-discounted Paceman, and found it to be a lot more solid-feeling, and perfectly suitable for a daily-driver. I’m sure the Paceman’s four-door counterpart, the Countryman, is the same.

    I’ve not driven the “current-era” MINIs (2015+ Coupe and Convertible, 2016+ Clubman).

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I had an 09 Clubman, the thing felt very solid to me. Name any convertible that feels solid.

      • 0 avatar
        jonnyanalog

        My 2011 Clubby feels really solid as well.
        The current generation (F-XX) are really pretty nice vehicles. I had a brand new base Clubman as loaner car while mine was in the shop. It was a huge step up in terms of refinement and materials. It is a bit of an oxymoron though as its really quite a bit larger than my 11.
        Still, I’d consider a new Clubman if I decided to sell mine. However, I’d buy it used. New ones are astronomically priced.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        S2000, but the point stands.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        My SLK feels super solid. My 3er convertible also feels very solid but not quite carved out of a block of granite like the SLK does. Both are extremely smooth, comfortable and quiet.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Fiat 500c. OK, it’s not truly a convertible, but having the window rails in place definitely makes the car solid.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I have to agree with the folks calling out the Fiat 500 as the deal if you want/need a city car. I think the MINI, while nice, is a pricey item. At least one of the standard colors isn’t gray.

    My wife wants a Clubman for her next car. From many of the (admittedly apocryphal) stories I’ve heard about these cars, I can’t see spending the money.

    I think I would take a chance on a Fiat 500L over one of these, at least I won’t be in for so much money on the note. OTOH, the 500L must have near 30-35% resale value, so maybe I should convince her to get a nice Equinox instead…

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Just buy it when it’s a couple of years old. MINIs tend to have astronomic depreciation, unless they’re rare JCW trims or something. I was looking at a 2014 Paceman S last month, loaded up with nav, HIDs, automatic climate cntrol, and everything else. And it only had 30K miles. The original MSRP was something like $38K; the local BMW / MINI dealership was selling it for $17,900.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        This is very true: the drop like a rock.

        Even CPO Minis can be had for a reasonable amount. Honestly, that’s the route I would go.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        All cars depreciate, but MINIs actually have one of the lowest depreciations of any car.

        I had a 2005 Cooper, and paid $23,000 for it. When I sold it, seven years later, I got $13,000 for it. Pretty damned good, if you ask me! Try getting that on any Ford, or FIAT, or Chrysler. You won’t!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Personally, geozinger, I’d recommend the 500x over the 500L for the AWD capability. (Of course, this depends on where you live as the L would probably serve well in warmer climates where the risk of snow and ice are minimal (not Atlanta.)) You could also consider the Jeep models like the Renegade or upcoming Compass where trade-in value should be higher. (I tend to keep my cars for at least 8 years, so I’m not nearly as concerned about depreciation as others.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Kyree and Vulpine: If we buy a new car for her, we keep it for a number of years. We’re on year eight with the G6. Part of the expense of buying new is the new car warranty. My father used to say about used cars is that you were getting someone else’s troubles. After having bought about 20 or so used cars over the years, it was an astute observation.

      WRT 500L vs. 500X: Again, car for the wife. She likes the Clubman and the 500L, which is odd that she likes these “wagons”. (This is the woman who would not be seen driving a minivan…) Regardless, she wasn’t impressed by either the 500X or the Renegade.

      She liked the old Compass and I like the looks of the new Compass, but the value play would be the 500L. We can go over to Detroit and pick them up pretty inexpensively. Besides, with the right tires, I’ve never had an issue with driving in the snow. The 500L is pretty cleverly packaged, and I geek out over the idea of a turbo’d, intercooled station wagon (essentially).

      If it were a car for me, I’d like an Abarth, I think. I really have to drive one to be sure, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Whichever one she chooses, geozinger, I’m sure she’ll enjoy it. I really enjoyed my 500Pop and am loving the Renegade.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        Isn’t the fact that the 500L is pretty much a universally hated car by every single reviewer who ever tested it, not to mention the fact that it’s officially a sales failure, an important factor for you? Heck, even Sergio would caution you against buying one, I’m sure.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “Isn’t the fact that the 500L is pretty much a universally hated car by every single review who ever tested it, ”

          Considering my personal experience with the cars, I believe those reviews are biased. Yes, I agree it’s a sales flop of sorts but that, too, is more due to the bias against the brand than to anything actually wrong with the cars.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          Not every reviewer hated it. There’s a boat load of YouTube reviews out there of the early ones in particular. The greatest complaint is/was the DDCT and the styling. Having owned three Azteks (and two Yugos), I can live with the styling.

          The DDCT has been replaced with a 6 speed Aisin torque converter automatic and the styling, it is what it is. I really appreciate the clever packaging of the car, as it has the most head- and leg- room of anything that size.

          The rear package shelf can be placed in different positions to make the most of cargo space. My old Malibu Maxx had that, and it was truly useful.

          I used to borrow my in-laws’ original Chrysler minivan years ago when my kids were little and I really liked everything about it except for the 2.6 Mitsu motor. Not because it was bad, just weak. Everything was weak back then.

          This car is roughly the same size as the original Caravan, but no sliding doors. So is the MINI Clubman, which is why these cars are on the radar.

  • avatar
    StarAZ

    Make sure you don’t test drive the S or the JCW if you are determined to get the base.
    You wouldn’t be able to go back otherwise.

  • avatar

    The pricing on these is insulting.

    Pay more, get less. That’s the MINI way.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Gotta disagree on this one. I ACTUALLY OWN a current Cooper (5dr, 3cyls), and having had to live with base, non-optioned loaners, they’re pretty blah. It’s not like mine’s loaded to the hilt; There were still $10k of options I didn’t take. But the base seats are flat and have terrible, rubbery upholstery, the ‘infotainment’ is circa 1999 BMW, etc.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    When we went for the current Mini Cooper we also considered a Fiat 500 but just felt that cabin quality was better in the mini and it just felt like a better car. Also the Coopers engine is really rather good making a nice raspy sound when accelerating fast.

    I’d strongly recommend a MINI to anyone now to the point where every other small car just feels cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If you’re willing to pay the extra bucks now and down the road, then go for it. I spent almost nothing on my Fiat 500 during my ownership and never had any issues with drivability. By no means was it slow even with the base engine and the agility was equal, if not superior, to the Mini’s.

      Interesting thing. The wife originally wanted a Beetle, but when the “new, New Beetle” came out, she was disgusted by the look and subsequently fell in love with the Fiat. As for the Mini… she never even considered one; not even for a test drive.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        That there, is the reason why you don’t know any better. Had you test-driven the current-gen MINI, you would feel silly for all the uninformed opinions that you’ve written here in this thread.

        I rented a 500 once. It was more fun than I expected, but it is an incredibly cheap-feeling car, as well as a very cramped-feeling car. MINI’s do not feel cramped inside. The build quality between the 500 and a 3rd Gen MINI is seriously night-and-day. There is no comparison.

        You really ought to test-drive one, and you’ll see the error of your ways.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          All I have to do is see how many times the TWO Minis in my neighborhood get hauled out on rollbacks compared to how many times my Fiat was (zero) and I very definitely question the reliability of the Mini product. Neither Mini has spent less than three days in the shop when they get carried out.

  • avatar
    darex

    I find it puzzling how the author could have actually been in possession of, or even seen, a 2017 MINI Cooper, when two of the items mentioned in the article are completely incorrect.

    Headlamp washers have not been available on any F56 model year. They existed on the 1st Gen MINI Cooper, but certainly not for the 3rd Gen.

    The side/repeater turn signals can be swapped out, white for amber, but you cannot do anything to change the amber turn signals beneath the headlamps, which is what you’re claiming.

    How do mistakes like this happen, if the author’s credibility is to remain intact? Did he just phone this one in?

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Who makes the 3-cylinder in there, by the way? Peugeot?


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