2022 Mini Cooper Review

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | May 17, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Mini deals!

More than 20 years ago, when retro design took America by storm, a completely new and thoroughly modernized Mini Cooper went on sale. People went crazy for the new BMW-designed and -engineered Cooper hardtop. Before long, the lineup expanded to include a convertible and performance variants carrying a John Cooper Works (JCW) designation, named for the man who tuned the original Mini to become a rally-racing legend.

Since BMW resurrected the Mini Cooper, the Mini lineup has grown to include various body styles, powertrains, and crossover SUVs. Today, although car buyers still refer to it as a Mini Cooper, the 2-door and 4-door models are called the Mini Hardtop, while the 2-door convertible is known as the Mini Convertible. Additional Mini models include the Clubman (a station wagon version of the Hardtop) and the Countryman (a crossover SUV).

Technically, “Cooper” now refers to the powertrain Mini uses in the Hardtop, Convertible, Clubman, and Countryman. A standard Cooper, for example, has the base turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine. A Cooper S comes with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. A John Cooper Works has a performance-tuned version of the Cooper S engine. And a Cooper SE is electric.

Since consumers think of the Hardtop and Convertible body styles when referencing the Mini Cooper, let’s drill down on those variants. The Hardtop is available with two doors or four, while the Convertible comes only as a two-door. Cooper, Cooper S, Cooper SE (2-door Hardtop only), and John Cooper Works specifications are available. Additionally, Mini offers base Classic, upgraded Signature, and top-of-the-line Iconic trim packages. Special editions of these models are also commonly available.

The last time Mini redesigned the Hardtop and Convertible was for the 2015 model year. Now in their eighth year of production, these two Mini Cooper models get several updates for the 2022 model year to help keep them fresh. Subtle styling changes alter the grille, headlights, and bumpers. New paint colors and wheel designs debut and some exterior details get a touch-up. In addition, the available Piano Black treatment applies to more of the car’s trim.

Perhaps the more significant news relates to newly standard digital instrumentation and 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment displays, the latter with an improved user experience. The Cooper also comes with a new heated steering wheel, which is especially useful when driving with the top down in the Convertible model.

What Owners Say About the Mini Cooper - Find the best Mini deals!

2022 Mini Cooper Convertible Blue Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

According to data collected from verified owners for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 51% of Mini Cooper owners are male (vs. 57% for the Compact Sporty Car segment), and the median age of a Cooper owner is 59 years (vs. 58).

Owners have ranked the Mini Cooper in 10 primary areas of evaluation. Listed below in descending order, you’ll find their preferences, from their favorite things about the vehicle to their least favorite things:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Powertrain
  • Interior design
  • Setting up and starting
  • Feeling of safety
  • Infotainment
  • Driving comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Getting in and out

In the J.D. Power 2021 APEAL Study, none of the Compact Sporty Cars officially ranked due to low survey sample sizes.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Mini Cooper - Find the best Mini deals!

In the following sections, our independent expert provides an analysis of a Cooper S Convertible equipped with the Sidewalk Edition option package. The price of the test vehicle came to $39,750, including the $850 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Mini Cooper Convertible Front Seats

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Getting into a Mini Convertible is easy, especially when the top is down. The car’s windshield is relatively upright, so with the roof folded back, you don’t need to make an effort to watch your head on the windshield pillars like you must with most droptops.

Both front seats are comfortable and supportive, and a heated steering wheel is now available. With the roof down, outward visibility is excellent, with two exceptions. First, the rearview mirror’s location can block the driver’s view when making right turns. Second, the rear head restraints and stacked fabric top can block the view directly to the rear. 

Of course, when the roof is raised, you’ll need to duck down and lean forward to see the traffic light if you pull too close at intersections. Also, the Convertible’s rear window is small, and the roof blocks the view toward the car’s blind spots, making the Mini’s lack of blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning systems difficult to understand. You can’t get a rear camera mirror, either, which would help.

The Mini Convertible does have two back seats, but they’re nearly useless if taller people are riding in front. Even children will be unhappy. If you can slide the front seats up to create some legroom, it is easier to load passengers with the roof down rather than up.

Per its retro exterior design and premium brand positioning, the Mini Cooper’s interior focuses on style and substance instead of practicality and utility. The new digital instrumentation panel adds a modern touch to the cabin but retains a rounded appearance similar to the analog gauges it replaces.

Ovals, circles, and curves define the Mini Cooper’s cabin, from the tweeter speakers on the windshield pillars to the accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals. Gloss black and chrome finishes cast plenty of glare on sunny days, and it takes time to learn how to use the Mini’s various features and functions. This isn’t a car that you get into and automatically understand how to operate.

2022 Mini Cooper Mini Connected Infotainment System Review

2022 Mini Cooper Convertible Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

For the 2022 model year, the Mini Cooper has a standard 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a revised user experience and the ability to customize the on-screen widgets to personal preferences. 

Additional highlights of the system include:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Mini Connected services
  • Amazon Alexa compatibility
  • Lounge and Sport appearance themes
  • A color ring on the outer edge that changes depending on the theme, vehicle settings, and climate control use
  • Six stereo speakers

Upgrades to the infotainment system are available. They include: 

  • Navigation
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • A 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system

All of these features are part of the Sidewalk Edition package. Choose a different version of the Mini Convertible, and you’ll want the Harman Kardon components if you frequently drive with the top down. They easily overcame wind and road noise during testing, even on the freeway with all four windows down.

You’d think that using digital instrumentation and infotainment displays in a convertible would be a bad idea. And when the sun shines directly on the screens, such as when driving away from early morning light or late afternoon light, the glare is a problem. Otherwise, such as during mid-day sun, both displays remain legible to the driver.

Our Sidewalk Edition also had a head-up display (HUD). It doesn’t show data on the windshield, though. Instead, a small plastic panel rises from the top of the steering column, and it comes close to presenting the information in the exact location a traditional HUD might. Furthermore, you can still see the data on the panel when you wear polarized sunglasses.

What It’s Like to Drive the 2022 Mini Cooper?

2022 Mini Cooper Convertible Blue Side View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Mini Coopers are fun to drive. That, along with their design, is the point of them. And when you look at what owners say are their favorite things about these cars, style and driving dynamics top the list.

In standard Cooper specification, the Mini has a turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine generating 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. That doesn’t sound like fun, but the torque is available from just 1,480 rpm, so the car feels livelier than you might expect. Mini says the standard Cooper can squirt to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds and reach 128 mph. Six-speed manual and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT) transmissions are available.

The Cooper S features a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder cranking out 189 hp and 206 lb-ft, with the torque swelling from just 1,350 rpm. As a result, a Cooper S is more fun to drive, and it zooms to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 143 mph. This engine pairs with a manual gearbox or a DCT.

Get a Mini Cooper SE, also known as the Mini Electric, and the car supplies 181 hp combined with the instant torque for which electric vehicles are known. Mini says 60 mph arrives in 6.9 seconds, and after you’ve traveled the car’s 114 miles of driving range, you can recharge the battery to 80-percent capacity in 36 minutes while using a 50-kW DC fast charger.

A John Cooper Works builds on Cooper S performance with the same engine but tuned to make 228 hp and 235 lb-ft. The torque arrives a little later, at 1,450 rpm, but this little slingshot improves upon Cooper S acceleration by getting to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and attaining a top speed of 149 mph. The JCW comes only with an 8-speed sport automatic transmission.

The test car had Cooper S specification and a 6-speed manual transmission and offered a choice between Green, Mid, and Sport driving modes. Unfortunately, it did not come with summer performance tires or Mini’s available adaptive damping suspension, making it more of a quick cruiser than a backroad bruiser.

Honestly, that driving character is entirely in keeping with the stylish Sidewalk Edition’s casual and upscale appearance. With every upshift, the gear lever smoothly glides into the next gate, and the car rides its wave of torque while pushing occupants deeper into their seats. The sensation is delightful, and the Cooper S Convertible’s demeanor is entirely different from a scalpel-sharp Mazda MX-5 Miata’s or a rough-and-tumble Jeep Wrangler’s.

Though it is based on a BMW-engineered, front-wheel-drive platform, the Mini Cooper doesn’t exhibit the sheer driving enjoyment you expect from the maker of Ultimate Driving Machines. Our Sidewalk Edition test car’s all-season tires and standard suspension tuning muted the car’s handling potential, and the imprecise steering and soft brake pedal response didn’t help. So if you’re looking for the best performing and handling version of the Mini Cooper, the Sidewalk Edition isn’t it.

Nevertheless, on a bright and sunny day, the convertible top sure does add to the fun. Drop it, and you’ll enjoy an open-air driving experience few other vehicles can supply. However, be prepared for plenty of wind buffeting inside the cabin at highway speeds, even if you power up all of the side windows. And if a chill settles in, the heated front seats and heated steering wheel are effective only to a point.

Driving a Mini Cooper S is fun, but not in a traditionally defined way. The car’s vivacious personality significantly contributes to your enjoyment, and the convertible top simply adds to your smile of satisfaction. However, if you want a street-legal go-kart, the current Mini Cooper is nothing like the car it was 20, or even 40, years ago.

Driving Assistant Review

2022 Mini Cooper Convertible Safety Features

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Among the 2022 model year changes, the Mini Cooper now has Driving Assistant technology as standard equipment. It includes: 

Separately, Coopers with automatic or dual-clutch automatic transmissions are eligible for an available adaptive cruise control system and a semi-autonomous self-parking technology.

Since the test car had a manual transmission, the only feature I could test was the lane-departure warning system. It offers a subtle vibration through the steering wheel when the car drifts out of the intended lane of travel without using the turn signal to indicate a lane change. This approach makes it more likely that you’ll continue using it rather than turn it off.

Mini does not offer a blind-spot warning system or a rear cross-traffic alert system. These would be helpful anytime, but especially when driving with the top raised. You do, however, get a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

2022 Mini Cooper FAQ - Find the best Mini deals!

How much cargo space does the 2022 Mini Cooper have?

Choose the Mini Hardtop, and the 2-door model holds 8.7 cubic feet of cargo behind its back seat. Fold the seat down to make 34 cu-ft of cargo space. The 4-door Hardtop is roomier inside, measuring 13.1 cu-ft and 40.7 cu-ft, respectively.

If you get a Mini Convertible, plan to pack light or use the back seat for extra luggage. The trunk, accessible through a bottom-hinged tailgate, offers no more than 7.6 cu-ft of cargo space (5.2 cubes with the top down).

Does the 2022 Mini Cooper get good gas mileage?

When equipped with its standard turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine, the Mini Cooper should return between 31 mpg and 32 mpg in combined driving. You’ll get better mileage with the automatic than with the manual transmission. The spread for the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models expands to between 26 mpg and 31 mpg, depending on the transmission.

Separately, the EPA rates the electric Mini Cooper SE at 110 MPGe and says it offers 114 miles of driving range on a full battery charge.

The Mini Cooper S Convertible test car had a manual transmission and averaged 27.1 mpg on the evaluation route. Based on that result and the car’s 11.6-gallon fuel tank, it offers nearly 315 miles of driving range.

Is the 2022 Mini Cooper safe?

The Mini Cooper is small and light, so it is at a disadvantage in a collision with a larger, heavier vehicle. Also, it doesn’t offer as much safety technology as you might expect, especially concerning blind-spot visibility.

If you are in a collision, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the Mini Hardtop 2-door earns Good ratings for crash protection, an Acceptable rating for headlight performance, and an Advanced rating for safety features when equipped with an automatic or DCT. The IIHS has not rated the Hardtop 4-door or the Convertible.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Hardtop 2-door a 4-star overall safety rating. Mainly, this is due to a 3-star rating for rear-seat side-impact protection and a 4-star rating for the driver in a frontal-impact collision.

How much is the 2022 Mini Cooper?

The base prices for the 2022 Mini Cooper Hardtop and Convertible range from $20,600 to $39,750, including the $850 destination charge.

What are the 2022 Mini Cooper competitors?

Primary competitors to the Mini Cooper include the Hyundai Veloster and the Mazda MX-5 Miata. However, any small car made primarily for driving fun is a legitimate alternative to the Mini. You might also compare a Cooper Convertible to a Ford Bronco or Jeep Wrangler 2-door, but few people are likely to cross-shop a Mini with those SUVs.

In the J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS) and the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study (APEAL), owners of the Compact Sporty Car segment models did not provide enough data to rank the vehicles for quality or overall appeal. 

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Mini deals!

2022 Mini Cooper Convertible Blue Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Despite high gas prices, small cars are not hot commodities. That’s especially true of expensive small cars, such as the 2022 Mini Cooper. 

However, what the Cooper has is both a pedigree and a personality. People choose it for its British heritage, German engineering, cheeky looks, or blend of style, luxury, and performance. Value isn’t the point. Image is. And since it comes in the form of a vehicle that can also put a smile on its driver’s face, then the modern Mini Cooper still has a chance to succeed.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with nearly 30 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. He has held editorial leadership roles with Edmunds, J.D. Power, the New York Daily News, and others. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals including Autotrader, Capital One Auto Navigator, CarGurus, Kelley Blue Book, WardsAuto, and more.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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