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2022 Mini Cooper First Look


The 2022 Mini Cooper is a premium subcompact hatchback with either two doors or four. Or a soft-top with two doors and seating for four. We thought we’d start with the basics, in case anyone reading this has just arrived on the planet and might be thinking of buying an interesting and engaging car. It’s what a lot of Earthlings do.

A Mini Cooper could be an excellent choice for terrestrials or anyone else with a head and limbs in all the usual places. It makes a virtue of its modest size by being wonderfully agile. Power goes only to the front wheels, yet even rear-drive die-hards can appreciate the sheer joy of driving a Mini through a fast set of curves and the way it changes direction so eagerly.

Engine size isn’t really an issue. Even the least powerful version is still fun, while the hardcore John Cooper Works (JCW) models can create track-day adventures. Praising the dynamics of a Mini Cooper is, however, only part of the story.

People who aren’t necessarily driving enthusiasts can still find plenty of other things about the Cooper to enthuse over. Like the styling that makes a vague nod to classic Minis of the 20th century, but has really taken on a personality of its own.

Let the masses drive their crossovers, Minis have a special something that appeals to non-conformists, yet still bring a sense of community with other owners. Every Mini Cooper also has the chance to be a one-off, because of the many and varied cosmetic options as well as the different drivetrains, including an all-electric version, the Cooper SE.

Don’t let reliability be a worry either. According to information for 2019 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Mini Cooper was the subject of just seven complaints. It has a 95-percent reliability rating and only 7.3 percent of owners had more than one issue. This factor, along with all the other particular Mini attributes, means that resale values are strong.

The 2022 Mini Cooper range goes on sale around mid-April 2021.

What’s New for 2022?

It’s hard to tell unless there’s a new Mini Cooper parked right next to last year’s model, but there have been some styling revisions. The front and rear fascias are revised, with more changes higher up the trim level ladder.

The basic Cooper loses its fog lights and substitutes extra air inlets. The now-standard LED headlights have what Mini calls “bad weather lighting” incorporated into these units. Black plastic trim frames the wheels.

The Cooper S comes with gloss black surrounds for the grille and headlights, extra air inlets up front and dual exhaust pipes at the back. The JCW model has more air intakes but retains that red stripe across the grille.

The yellow stripe that adorned the nose of last year’s all-electric Mini Cooper SE has gone, though. Other than a hood scoop and closed-in grille, it doesn’t look that different from a regular Cooper.

The whole 2021 Cooper range benefits from new designs of alloy wheels. Mini is offering a new contrasting Multitone roof that fades from dark blue to light blue to black in a wet-on-wet painting process. New exterior colors are Island Blue, Zesty Yellow and Rooftop Grey. And optional details now include the door handles, Mini hood badge and the fuel filler cap finished in gloss black.

Changes have taken place in the cabin as well, with a restyled dashboard housing new air vents, plus an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen as standard (the previous unit measured 6.5 inches) along with a digital driver information display that’s also standard (Sport mode has its own “page”). Incidentally, the software for the infotainment system has also received an update.

The steering wheel has been redesigned and now offers the option of a heating element. Cloth Leatherette Black Pearl/Light Chequered  is a new upholstery option.

This extra equipment, plus satellite radio and lane departure warning now included in the entry level Cooper, would all add up to about $2,000. But some models have only gone up by $500 and the Cooper SE keeps the same prices it’s had for the previous two years. See the 2022 Mini Cooper models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Fun at the base level, thrilling at the top level
  • Distinctive looks inside and out
  • Quite spacious up front
  • Suitably premium cabin materials
  • Wide array of options

What We Don’t

  • Apple CarPlay not standard
  • Android Auto smartphone integration not available
  • Bigger wheels and firmer sport suspension can create a choppy ride

How Much?

$23,750 – $45,750

Fuel Economy

Front-wheel drive (FWD) is employed throughout the 2021 Mini Cooper range. And premium gasoline is recommended in those versions that have an internal combustion engine.

The base Cooper versions have a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine developing 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. It’s linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) --  think of it as a high-performance automatic.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the drivetrain achieves 28 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg in combined driving, regardless of body style.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit propels Cooper S versions with 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Mini also offers a 6-speed manual transmission with this engine, in addition to the 7-Speed DCT.

Fuel consumption for both Hardtop models is estimated at 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway/27 mpg combined (manual) or 26 mpg city/35 mpg highway/30 mpg combined (DCT).

The Cooper S Convertible returns 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway/26 mpg combined (manual) or 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined (DCT).

John Cooper Works models take the Cooper S engine and boost it to 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Again, a 6-speed manual transmission is available, but not in the JCW Convertible, which is exclusively automatic.

The automatic transmission in these JCW cars is an 8-speed unit with a conventional planetary gear setup. Fuel economy for the JCW Hardtop is 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 combined (manual) or 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined (automatic). The JCW convertible manages 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway/28 mpg combined (automatic only).

The all-electric Cooper SE Hardtop 2 Door has miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) numbers of 115 MPGe city/100 MPGe highway/108 MPGe combined. Maximum range from a full charge of the lithium-ion battery pack is 110 miles. Its electric motor generates 181 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. A full charge when connected to a fast-charging station takes about 1.4 hours.

These EPA figures are from 2021, but since Mini has not made any changes in this area, we’re not expecting 2022’s to be any different.

Standard Features and Options

The 2022 Mini Cooper range of hatchbacks and convertibles comes in sub-trims of Classic, Signature and Iconic that complement the different drivetrains. Add $1,000 to the price of the Hardtop 2 Door versions to get the cost of the corresponding Hardtop 4 Door model.

All vehicle prices include a destination charge of $850. The electric Cooper SE models are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and other state incentives.

The Cooper Classic (Hardtop 2 Door: $23,750; Convertible: $28,750) comes with 15-in alloy wheels, automatic on/off LED headlights, LED taillights, heated side mirrors, rear parking sensors, manual climate control, height-adjustable front seats, split-folding rear seats, simulated leather upholstery, multi-function steering wheel, digital instrument cluster, lane departure warning, low-speed braking with pedestrian detection, high-speed emergency braking assistance, Dynamic Cruise Control, 8.8-in central infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth, USB port, auxiliary audio input, satellite/HD radio, and a 6-speaker sound system.

The Cooper S Classic (Hardtop 2 Door: $27,750; Convertible $32,750) swaps in the 2.0-liter engine, plus 16-in alloy wheels with run-flat tires, selectable driving modes, automatic climate control, and heated sport seats. Except for the engine, these extras are available as options in the Cooper.

High-performance John Cooper Works versions come as a Hardtop 2 Door ($33,750) or a Convertible ($39,750). For these cars, Classic trim entails 17-in alloy wheels, cornering lights, fixed rear wing, sport-tuned suspension (the standard suspension is a no-cost option), upgraded brakes, trim-specific styling, sport front seats, leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, upgraded headliner, and trim-specific cloth upholstery.

The Cooper Signature (Hardtop 2 Door: $27,750; Convertible: $32,750) brings 16-in alloy wheels, keyless entry, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, automatic climate control, and piano black interior accents.

The all-electric Cooper SE Hardtop 2 Door ($30,750) starts in Signature trim, with dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and navigation as standard.

Cooper S Signature (Hardtop 2 Door: $31,750; Convertible $36,750) adds a John Cooper Works steering wheel to most of the above Signature features.

John Cooper Works Signature (Hardtop 2 Door: $36,750; Convertible: $41,500) augments the JCW Classic with those Signature additions.

The Cooper SE also has its own Signature Plus trim ($34,750) with 17-in alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, panoramic moonroof, and a Harman Kardon audio system.

The Cooper Iconic (Hardtop 2 Door: $31,750; Convertible: $36,750) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-folding/self-dimming side mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, self-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, cornering lights, Harman Kardon surround-sound system, Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, navigation with real-time traffic updates, and wireless device charging.

The Cooper S Iconic (Hardtop 2 Door: $35,750; Convertible: $40,250) also gains a head-up display.

The Cooper SE Iconic ($37,750) adds front parking sensors.

The John Cooper Works Iconic (Hardtop 2 Door: $40,750; Convertible: $45,750) runs on 18-in alloy wheels.

Many of the standard features in the higher trims are available as options further down. Other extras include keyless entry/ignition, adaptive cruise control, real leather upholstery, and an automated parallel parking system.

Opportunities for personalization are plentiful. There are different wheel designs, contrasting roof colors, stripes, a Union Jack motif for the Convertible’s fabric roof, and a choice of interior color schemes.

Safety

Mandatory safety equipment for the 2022 Mini Cooper range includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, rearview camera, front side airbags, front knee airbags and side curtain airbags.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not crash-tested this newly updated 2022 Cooper model, but earlier years have earned an overall score of four out of a maximum five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Hardtop 2 Door top scores of Good in all the major crash test categories.

Behind the Wheel

The Mini Cooper has matured into a convincingly premium car. Those special touches like the row of aircraft-style toggle switches and the large circular display are still in place. This latter item’s surround now includes LEDs that can act as a rev counter, parking sensor indicator or navigation aid. Cabin materials are also appropriately classy.

Although the Cooper’s 1.5-liter engine only has three cylinders, they are at least turbocharged. In a car this small, it provides a pleasant amount of zip that’s fine for running around town and the occasional jaunt along a winding canyon road.

The 4-cylinder engines in the Cooper S and JCW models are naturally better at exploiting the Mini Cooper’s baked-in cornering abilities. For every extra horsepower, there’s another thrill to be had.

The Cooper SE keeps the Mini flag flying in a zero-emissions manner. The maximum range of 110 miles isn’t great, but this is an affordable premium all-electric vehicle with definite driver appeal.

There’s a relatively nice amount of occupant space up front, but subcompact cars are never going to have a lot of room for rear passengers or cargo. The Mini Cooper makes up for it by being characterful and involving. 

Other Cars to Consider

2022 Mini Clubman -- Plenty of Mini personality and engagement in a roomier package. And also updated for 2022, with no price increase over last year. No convertible version, however.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI -- Roomier and more comfortable than a Mini. An all-new 241-hp version is set for the 2022 model year.

2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata -- Admittedly a 2-seater roadster with rear-wheel-drive, but one of the finest examples of accessible driving thrills at affordable prices.

2022 Hyundai Veloster N -- After attracting some former BMW engineers, Hyundai has produced the entertaining and affordable 275-hp Veloster N front-drive performance hatchback.

Used BMW 2 Series -- More prestigious and more serious than a Mini. Yet still with fantastic driver engagement as well as plenty of tech. Check out BMW’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Autotrader’s Advice

Each potential buyer of a new Mini will have their own ideas of how it should be. Whether it’s a Hardtop or a Convertible, for example, or which drivetrain is deployed. We’d just say that the top Iconic trim levels are a bit pricey and don’t get too carried away with the options. Find a Mini Cooper for sale

Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More about Colin Ryan

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