Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Whilst the second generation 'new' MINI Cooper faithfully retains the classic appearance of the 2002 MINI, the 2007 onwards model (as this gen MINI arrived Down Under in February 2007) doesn't actually share any body panels – everything’s been subtly changed. Thankfully it still looks damn funky.
Not so good It looks like it’s put on a few kilo's from the previous model (some blame however should go to the front pedestrian crash tests which require vehicles to have higher front bonnets than 5 years ago - which is a good thing).
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Interior is a love/hate affair – we happen to love the cartoon-like big dials and the splash of colour (compared to other competitors' grey or beige 'plain-jane' interiors) - you may not? Also, a unique and funky touch is the cool interior lights, with the flick of a switch you can change the colour to best suit your mood. Our personal favourites are red and aqua.
Not so good Moving the large circular speedo to the centre of the dash means it’s further away from eyesight than ideal; forget about rear seat space – the longer wheelbase Clubman is the answer if you need to carry adults in the back.
Performance

Performance

Good All four of the Cooper engines on offer are up to the task, the entry level naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre petrol engine has 90kW of power and 160Nm of torque, it is smooth throughout its rev range (actually, not one engine on offer isn’t smooth); all gearboxes (manual and automatic) are quality six-speed units that contribute to the fun. For such an economical vehicle the Cooper Diesel is surprisingly zippy, the turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel six-speed Steptronic produces 82kW of power and a generous 270Nm of torque, and it's thanks to this torque figure that taking off at the lights or tackling a hill with the A/C on the Mini Cooper D hands it without breaking a sweat. If it's flat out performance you're after then the Cooper S and the range topping John Cooper Works JCW are the models you're after.
Not so good Pick the base level petrol engine with the auto gearbox and you’ll say goodbye to perky performance.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Handling is what MINI’s were originally famous for and this tradition continues to this day. All models feature superb handling, throw the Mini through a corner at speed and it stays flat and firm. The John Cooper Works JCW grade has brilliant brakes.
Not so good The fully electric steering is slightly less rewarding than the previous electro-hydraulic system, however, fuel economy benefits from the change; the quicker Cooper S grade gets a little fidgety when you’re charging down that favourite mountain back road – it definitely favours smooth driver input; the JCW can be a little too prone to understeer when carrying lots of speed into corners.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good High resale rating; all grades are economical, with the Cooper D (Diesel) extremely so.
Not so good High initial price; expensive options; the 'run-flat' tyres are more expensive to replace than regular tyres; JCW is a big price hike over the already impressive Cooper S.