Kārlis Dambrāns, CC BY 2.0, resized

There aren’t many cars better for fun and practical driving

Quick notes

– A true style icon

– Faster than you’d think

– Practical without being boring

The Mini Cooper: it’s cute, it’s British (via BMW, admittedly), and it’s got a lot of retro style. However, what separates it from other retro-styled cars like the VW Beetle or the Fiat 500? Well, aside from its starring role in The Italian Job, the Mini has evolved a whole lot since the 1960s, and it’s one of our favorite small cars on the market. We’re here to tell you why.

It’s got style

The Mini Cooper is a style icon. The original Mini is an icon of swinging London, and the modern Minis took that mantle and ran with it. Be honest with me now: when you look at a subcompact, a lot of the time, they’re boring. There’s not that much inspiring about a Chevrolet Sonic. When you buy a Mini Cooper, you’re buying into a whole stylistic heritage.

You don’t have to be in love with 1960s London to appreciate the Mini’s looks, though. This is a car that starred in one of the greatest car chase scenes of all time in the Italian Job, which will always net you some kudos. It’s a car that’s got rallying heritage too, proving it doesn’t just belong in crowded city streets.

There are lots of customization options available on the Cooper, too. You don’t have to opt for one solid color, far from it. Fancy some racing stripes? How about a Union Jack on the roof? Mirror caps? A wide range of seat colors? You can truly make the Mini Cooper your own and don’t even have to spend a huge amount to do so.

It’s got power

RyC – Behind The Lens, CC BY 2.0, resized

One of the greatest racing drivers ever, Stirling Moss, thought that a Mini was the car for him. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is. As we mentioned before, the car has a huge racing pedigree, and the modern Mini only builds further upon that.

The Cooper S generates 189 horsepower and can hit 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds. Opt for the more expensive John Cooper Works versions, and you’ll be in for a genuinely sublime driving experience. This tuned version of the S puts out 228 horsepower and can hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 144 mph. While this doesn’t exactly mean the Mini Cooper is out for Ferraris’ blood, it feels insane in a Mini, thanks to its low-slung stance.

The Mini Cooper isn’t just fast, though. It’s well-made. The BMW engines lead to the car feeling prestigious, reliable, and silky smooth to drive, but without the wallet hemorrhage that buying a BMW often entails.

It’s practical

You might look at a car as small as the Mini Cooper and assume it will be cramped, and there won’t be anywhere to store your shopping. You couldn’t be more wrong! The trunk space is impressive, especially if you fold the rear seats down, and will match any other hatchback on the road. There’s an impressive amount of headroom and legroom up front too, with even tall drivers able to fit in comfortably.

The BMW engines lead to the car feeling prestigious, reliable, and silky smooth to drive

Their mileage is pretty good too: the 2019 Mini Cooper hits 30 combined mpg. While it’s a perfectly adequate highway performer, it’s in urban areas where the Cooper shines. You can duck and weave between traffic as though you’re on a moped, and squeeze into tight parking spaces with no issue whatsoever. If you live in a major city, the Mini Cooper could easily be one of the best investments that you ever make.

So, we know it’s not a very expensive car to run, but how much is that initial investment? The hardtop 2-door version of the Cooper starts at $23,000. While this may be more than its rivals like the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, or Chevy Sonic, we hope that you’ve now got an understanding of why the Mini Cooper is worth a little bit more.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

Do you know when is the best time to buy a car? | Finance 101

You might know what car you want, but when should you buy it?

5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint | Living 101

Driving a subcompact car is just one way to care for the planet.

Why customers thought these were the worst cars | Autos 101

Be grateful that you don’t have to drive one of these junkers.