The 2022 Mini Cooper comes with new updates and an iconic style. But is this quirky car worth your attention? We look at powertrain, interior options and more.
Talk about an iconic vehicle. The 2022 Mini has roots back to the 1960s, when it went up against the likes of the original VW Beetle, a comparison we detail here. These days, the Mini is still delivering go-kart handling on a relatively tiny platform with all manner of quirky, whimsical engineering.
Mini is presently owned by BMW but still built in England, a history you can read up on here. That German backing brings associated BMW running gear, topped by a unique style that is all Mini. New this year, the Mini picks up fresh front and rear fascias, a multi-tone roof option, and standardized 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen.
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No Android integration
Light on common features
Watch out for a hard ride
Like nothing else on the road
As with the staggering array of body styles, trimlines, and customization options, the 2022 Mini has quite a large variety of powertrain setups for such a small car. First up is a naturally aspirated 1.5L inline-3 that makes 134-hp and 162 lb-ft of torque. Cooper S models are treated to a turbocharged 2.0L four-pot that puts out 189 horsepower and 206 torques. Top-spec John Cooper Works (JCW) models come with a stout 228-horse version of that 2.0-liter four. Last but not least, there is an all-electric Mini, the SE, that utilizes a 28.9 kWh-sized battery pack to power a motor with 181-hp and 199 lb-ft of torque.
In all cases, the 2022 Mini gets around with its front wheels, no AWD here. A 6-speed manual remains standard on most models, which aligns with this cars’ self-styled go-kart driving experience. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is widely available and JCW models can be optioned with an 8-speed automatic that features steering column-mounted paddle shifters. Electric models have a single-speed direct-drive transmission as well as 2-stage regenerative braking.
Mini backs up the go-kart claim of their cars with crisp, direct handling characteristics. These SUV antidotes weigh in under 3,000 pounds, features BMW Double-VANOS variable valve timing on the hotter specs, and are firmly planted with independent suspension all around. Firm is the key word here as the Mini has a reputation for spine-busting ride comfort, particularly on the JCW models that are best suited for freshly paved roads, or the track. And don’t miss the droptop variant for high-speed alfresco fun.
Hardtop Mini models, in 2- or 4-door configuration, are rated for 29 mpg in city driving and 38 on the highway, with the base motor. The S powertrain drops the city figure by one mpg with the JCW variant reducing them further to 25/34 mpg in city/highway driving. Convertible models generally lose a single mpg across thanks powertrain lineup thanks to reduced aerodynamic efficiency. The SE electric model is best suited for urban runabout duty with it’s 110-mile range and MPGe ratings of 119 around town and 100 on the highway.
Hardtop 2-door Mini’s live up to their name with tiny cabins that seat four and a rear cargo hold with 8.7 cubic feet of space. Fortunately, it can be increased to 34 with the rear seat folded. Four door hardtops, which are 7-inches longer, have five seats and see max cargo room jump to 40.7 cubes. Cargo space on the convertible is relatively embarrassing with a max cargo hold of just 7.6 cubic feet.
However, these cars are designed to be fun drivers stacked with character, not cargo haulers. That being said, if you do need more usable space and want to stay in the Mini family, they make a Clubman variant that accomplishes this as we review here. That character is on display with the giant circular interface on the center stack and spunky upholstery like two-tone black leatherette and Pearl Light Chequered fabric.
On the more traditional creature comfort front, features like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel and seats, and a panoramic sunroof are all available. Notable misses, particularly given the pricing, are the lack of amenities like front-seat ventilation or active noise control technology.
Measuring 8.8-inches in diameter, the big circular central screen is a signature Mini feature. Though an eye-catching infotainment interface, Mini chooses to deviate from industry norms by making Apple CarPlay an option only available on higher trims and by not offering Android Auto at any price. SiriusXM satellite radio and a digital gauge cluster are standard fare but to access integrated navigation. Additional tech like a head-up display, and upgraded Harman Kardon stereo will require stepping up to the Iconic trimline in most models.
Though fun to zip around in, you may feel a bit undersized in your 2022 Mini amongst the hordes of giant lumbering SUVs that dominate American roadways. This takes on more significance when you consider the Mini does not receive top safety marks from NHTSA or IIHS. Fortunately, you can benefit from active systems like forward collision warning with automated emergency braking and lane departure warning as they are standard equipment. Have a look at our Safety Tech Explainer article for more on these types of systems.
Originally developed to attract college kids to the Mini Brand, Oxford models bring strong standard features like LED headlights and dual-zone automatic climate control for thousands less than the rest of the lineup. At one point, this trim required active college enrollment, but that is no longer the case.
The iconic 2-door Cooper Hardtop comes with rain-sensing windshield wipers, the 8.8-inch infotainment screen, Adaptive Cruise Control, FCW, AEB, and LDW. Within this model there are Classic, Signature, and Iconic trims that add progressively more cost and more amenities like keyless entry and Apple CarPlay. Add $1,000 for the 4-door version.
An extra $4,000 gets you the more powerful turbocharged motor, more colors to choose from, more wheel options, and generally more customization. Two doors are standard, four doors cost an extra thousand dollars.
Droptop Minis are exclusively a 2-door affair. This base version matches the hardtop for features, which include standard LED headlights and the availability of power-folding side mirrors, leather upholstery, and a HUD.
Identifiable by its yellow S branding and closed-off radiator grille, the 2-door-only electric Mini can be nicely equipped with Chesterfield leather, navigation, a panoramic sunroof, and reverse parking sonar.
Like the hardtop, this S-powered convertible can be fitted with Piano Black exterior trim, a Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Harman Kardon stereo system depending on trim level.
These little hotrod hardtops only come in 2-door configuration. Along with the burly powerplant, JCW Minis sport Brembo brakes, a locking front differential, and available Dynamic Damper Control
Knocking on the $40,000 door, a JCW Mini Cooper convertible comes only with an 8-speed automatic as well as exclusive sport seats. Be sure to review these current incentives before hitting the dealer lot.
Mini blends their powertrain and vehicle warranty into a single category with both areas covered for four years or 50,000 miles. Electric models come with an 8-year/100,00-mile warranty on the battery system and all models have a competitive complimentary maintenance term good for three years or 36,000 miles.
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If you’re looking for a car with all the latest infotainment technology, advanced driver assistance systems, and literal bells and whistles that come with said systems, the 2022 Mini is not for you. This is a car designed for those that are more interested in the journey than the destination. It is unabashedly quirky and that’s what makes it so neat. Yes, the technology has huge gaping holes relative to the current market. And no, the Mini is not exactly cheap – Oxford Edition aside. But it is a guaranteed blast on the back roads and looks like nothing else for sale today.