Review: MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013)

Rating:

Great performance from Cooper S, much smoother and more sophisticated than first generation, capable of travelling distances in comfort.

17-inch wheels with Sport suspension destroy both ride and road feel, air conditioning wasn't standard on models before January 2009.

Recently Added To This Review

22 August 2019

Report of problem with Peugeot engine of R57 MINI Cooper convertible now at 38,000 miles. "Aluminium bracket that holds the top part of the timing chain guide broke off whilst the car was on the motorway.... Read more

20 August 2019

Report of gears of 60,000 km 2007 MINI Cooper automatic not selecting correctly and changing up and down randomly without warning. After a rebooting of the software failed, owner (resident in France)... Read more

27 June 2019

Report of 51,000 mile 2010 MINI Cooper using full sump of oil in 800 miles. Read more

MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013): At A Glance

Has BMW taken the fun out of the MINI?

First reports from "first drives" a tended to end with that conclusion, And seemed to be worrying MINI Project Leader Horst Radibojevic as he cross-examined us after our own first drive.

Happily we, and others, of course, were listened to and by the time R56 MINIs started reaching customers they felt and handled a lot better.

 

What does a MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013) cost?

Contract hire from £285.56 per month
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MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 3723–3729 mm
Width 1683 mm
Height 1407 mm
Wheelbase 2467 mm

Full specifications

Other features of the car all work fine. I reckon it's better looking than its predecessor, and just as cheeky. It's a bit roomier inside with more leg-space for rear passengers and a bigger boot. BMW has gone back to the central speedometer and made that huge so everyone in the car and can see what speed you're doing. The steering wheel adjusts in and out as well as up and down, and takes the rev counter with it. There are thoughtful touches like a side sunvisor for the driver. Some great new colours including an ochre yellow.

Remember, however, that the must-have aircon isn't standard, even on the Cooper S. It's an extra £660. And if you go for the Chili Pack, on the Cooper S that brings with it 17" wheels which you may not want. As before you need to spec your car up very carefully from the options list and that can bump up the price substantially.

The hugely improved ride and refinement will make the new MINI an even hotter seller than the old one and will hang onto its value in exactly the same way.

 

Child seats that fit a MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013) like to drive?

Second and third in BMW's list of ‘What's the same' about the new MINI are "the kart-like handling" and "the wheel-at-each-corner control". And from our experience that patently was not true.

The thing about the original Mini, Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S on their tiny 10" wheels was that they did feel exactly like go-karts. The steering wheel connected you directly to the road with no sponge pudding in between. It informed you exactly what each wheel was doing and fed every ripple, pebble and grain of sand to your hands. At lower speeds you could change direction so alarmingly quickly that your passenger wasn't firmly strapped down she could land on your lap.

Despite 15", 16" and 17" wheels, BMW managed to hang onto the fun factor with its rejuvenated MINI. A fully loaded supercharged MINI Cooper S convertible on 17" wheels could sometimes feel exactly like an original MINI 1275S.

But the new MINI Cooper S turbo we had been driving just didn't.

It was very refined, like no MINI ever has been before, and an excellent Motorway cruiser. It had very good ride quality; enough to shame an SLK, a 350Z or the new Audi TT. The seats were very comfortable. But the handling was as much like a go-kart as Del Boy's Reliant van.

To me the steering felt no more connected to the road than it does driving an arcade game. It was direct, but didn't tell me anything. So I could see which way I was going through the windscreen but couldn't feel what any of the wheels are doing. Added to that our car was twitchy and unstable under braking on the straight bits before the corners. The only way I could keep it under proper control was to brace my left hand against the steering wheel with my knee. Pressing the ‘sport' button in front of the gearlever sharpened it up, but stiffened it, and that emphasised the deficiencies even more.

True we had been knocking on a bit. The Cooper S turbo is fairly quick with a 0-60 under 7 seconds and a top end of 140. We saw 130 several times and found ourselves cruising at 110 in places where 100 would have been fast.

But it was work, not fun. And that worried Herr Radibojevic.

I suggested it might have been a quirk of that particular car. A bad set of tyres, and a faulty brake compensator valve, for example. Because others had been having bundles of fun in Cooper S turbos on 16" wheels.

The thing is, you can order a MINI Cooper on 15", 16" or 17" wheels and standard or ‘sports' suspension. Or you can order the Cooper S on 16" or 17" wheels with or without sports suspension and with the option to delete sports suspension if you go for the Chili pack. So we tried a non-turbo Cooper on 16" wheels with sports suspension and it was fine. Not quite as much fun as the original MINI Cooper, but a natural, refined successor to it that will find more friends than enemies.

I also drove a MINI Cooper on 15" wheels with standard suspension. Less grip. More understeer. But a good little car with handling nearly as sweet as a base model Peugeot 207. To round it off I even drove another Cooper S on 17s and that was vastly better than the Cooper S we'd had earlier.

So when you order your MINI Cooper or Cooper S, I'd suggest you go for either 16" wheels and sport suspension or 17" wheels and non sport suspension, but not full-house 17s with sport because you might be very disappointed.

The new engines are both more fuel-efficient and emit less CO2, dropping them two places in the VED bands. So a new MINI Cooper owner can park in Richmond for £90 a year instead of £130. And you can still buy a five-year servicing package for £150, which 95% of MINI buyers do.

But if you want "kart-like handling" and "wheel-at-each-corner control", choose your wheels, tyres and suspension settings very carefully.

 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Cooper 52 mpg 9.1 s 127 g/km
Cooper Automatic 44 mpg 10.4 s 150 g/km
Cooper S 49 mpg 7.0 s 136 g/km
Cooper S Automatic 44 mpg 7.2 s 149 g/km

Real MPG average for a MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

77%

Real MPG

27–51 mpg

MPGs submitted

434

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the MINI Cooper and Cooper S (2007 – 2013)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Our used car developed a fault - is the dealership liable or the warranty company?

My daughter recently purchased a 2009 MINI Cooper from a small dealership. At the same time she purchased an extra nine months warranty to the three months warranty included in the price, costing her an extra £140. We are now having to make a claim under the warranty for a half seized water pump. The dealership are telling us that the whole claim is to be dealt with by the warranty company. Unfortunately my daughter will have to incur the costs of the difference in the hourly rate of £58/hour, the 10% excess and costs of parts not covered. I have currently calculated this to be £176.00 including VAT but not the 10% excess as the part price is unknown at the moment. Please could you advise if the dealership are responsible for this claim as it is within three months of purchase or whether they are correct in advising us that the warranty company are wholly responsible for dealing with it? Many thanks Sarah
The dealer that sold her the car is wholly liable for the entire cost of replacing the waterpump because the fault is deemed to have been present or developing before she bought the car. The warranty insurer cannot be held liable for a fault that was present before the warranty was taken out because that would be insurance fraud. Tell the dealer either he pays for the replacement waterpump in full or you will sue him in Small Claims. See: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/
Answered by Honest John
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