Is A Mini Cooper A Good First Car?

The Mini Cooper is a unique compact car with many models to suit many needs.  This car comes equipped with either a 4-cylinder, 3-cylinder, or an electric engine. The Mini Cooper has 5 model options all with various trim levels.

This article will look at whether the Mini Cooper is a good first car by evaluating the pros and cons of driving this vehicle as a new driver.

Is A Mini Cooper A Good First Car?

The Mini Cooper can be a great first car for some individuals, but that doesn’t make it the best option for all new drivers.  Individuals who desire more space inside their vehicle, or who don’t like the unique styling of the Mini Cooper may prefer a more traditional option for a first car.

Risks Of Driving A Mini Cooper As A First Car

Mini Coopers have a loyal following of people who love this car and are passionate about it.  However, that doesn’t mean that this car is the right option as a first car for everyone. 

Here are some of the cons of having a Mini Cooper as a first car:

Small Car

The Mini Cooper is small being that it is a compact car.  Thus, this car may not work size-wise for all people.  Those that are really far outside of the average size range in height or weight, may not find this car comfortable.

Additionally, if the new driver will need to transport larger items on a regular basis, a compact car may not be the right type of car for them.  Also, if there will be many adult passengers in the car, the car could be a tight ride for your guests.

Fuel Cost And Fuel Tank Capacity

The Mini Cooper has good mileage; however, it takes premium fuel which is the most expensive type of gasoline. 

This is an important consideration for a first car especially if the new driver is on a tight budget as this car will cost more to fill up with each trip to the gas station than a car that takes regular gas.

In addition, Mini Coopers don’t have a large tank (only holding 11.6 gallons on average), so although they get good gas mileage, this can sometimes be outweighed by the fact they can’t hold as much gas. 

Depending on how much driving the new driver will be doing on a regular basis, both these factors could lead to more trips to the pump increasing the cost to drive this vehicle.

Dealerships Are Limited

Mini dealerships aren’t as prevalent as some other manufacturers.  Thus, if you are looking to find a Mini service center, it can be a long trip to get to one in some locations.

This is more important if you plan to purchase your first car with a warranty and need to get it serviced are a Mini service center. 

Make sure there is a Mini dealership within a driving distance you are willing to commit to or find another mechanic who can work on your Mini within a more tolerable location.

Keeping in mind that having work performed outside of the dealership can void your warranty in some instances.

Acquisition Cost

Since there are so many model options with the Mini Cooper, there are models within a tolerable price range for many people. 

However, although the starting price is reasonable at between $23,000 – $35,000 depending on the model, the additional add-ons quickly can raise the price of this car from reasonable to unattainable for many people for their first car.

We recommend taking a look at the options you would want on your Mini and build one on their website to see what the cost would be for the Mini Cooper with every you want.  If that price is too high you can also consider a used Cooper to bring the cost down as well.

Accident Safety

Although the Mini Cooper has good safety options, the fact of the matter is that smaller vehicles can have more disastrous impacts in the event of an accident because there is less car around the driver to protect them.

If this first car is for a new driver, this should definitely be a consideration as newer drivers have a higher likelihood of being involved in accidents as they learn to navigate the road.

Benefits Of Driving A Mini Cooper As A First Car

There are definitely some downsides to owning a Mini Cooper as a first car, but there are also a good number of benefits. 

The pros to owning a Mini Cooper as a first car are as follows:

Manual Transmission Option

Vehicles that come with the option for a manual transmission are harder to find on the market these days.  Thus, if you are a new driver who wants a manual transmission, the Cooper Hardtop and Cooper S Hardtop currently still have the option for a manual transmission.

Since stick shift vehicles are becoming rarer every year, the fact that the Mini Cooper offers that option is a huge benefit.

Unique Look/Style

One of the things many people love about the Mini Cooper is its unique styling and ability to customize it. 

There are 13 color options and also the ability to customize the colors of the mirrors and roof of the vehicle which allows owners to have a more unique car than other options on the road. 

If you don’t want a car that you see on the road every day, the Mini Cooper could be a good option to consider.

Fuel Economy

Having a vehicle with good fuel efficiency directly impacts how much you have to in gas on a regular basis.  Although the Mini Cooper uses premium gas, it is actually very fuel-efficient.

Below is the MPG per trim level to give you an idea of how often to expect a trip to a gas station:

ModelFuel Economy
Hardtop 2 Door
Cooper 32 MPG
Cooper S 31 MPG
John Cooper Works 29 MPG
Cooper SE - Electric 110 MPGe
Hardtop 4 Door
Cooper 32 MPG
Cooper S 31 MPG
Cooper 32 MPG
Cooper S 30 MPG
John Cooper Works 28 MPG
Cooper S 29 MPG
Cooper S ALL4 26 MPG
John Cooper Works ALL4 26 MPG
Cooper 29 MPG
Cooper ALL4 26 MPG
Cooper S 28 MPG
Cooper S ALL4 26 MPG
John Cooper Works ALL4 26 MPG
Cooper SE ALL4 - Electric 29 MPGe

Ease Of Parking/ Maneuvering

Due to their size, compact cars are easier to park and maneuver in densely populated areas.  Although the size can be a con depending on your needs, there are benefits of a smaller car for those just learning how to drive.

Someone acquiring their first car who is new to driving will have an easier time fitting into parking spots, parking garages, and parallel parking in tight locations. 

Additionally, because the turn radius is smaller the Mini Cooper is easier to move around in crowded areas like cities. 

Good Resale Value

Another benefit to getting a Mini Cooper as a new driver is that are known to retain their value assuming they don’t have significant damage and are well maintained. 

Since most new drivers don’t keep their first car forever, getting a car with a decent resale value can help someone have more cash in hand when they are ready to transition to their second car.

Safety Features

Mini Cooper’s are known to generally be reliable cars.  In addition, they also come with many active and passive safety features that are highly valuable for new drivers.

Below are some of the safety features the Mini Cooper has:

  • Active Brakes
  • Heads Up Display
  • Stability Control
  • Crash Sensor System
  • Rollover Protection
  • Breakaway Engine
  • Corner Brake Control
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • Rear View Camera
  • Auto Leveling LED Headlamps

Final Thoughts

The Mini Cooper can be a great choice for a first car for some people depending on what the new driver is looking for. Generally, if someone is looking for a compact car with a variety of models and customizations available the Mini Cooper is a great option to consider.

If you are targeting a compact car as a new driver, but aren’t sure the Mini Cooper is the one, check out the Nissan Sentra, the Subaru Impreza, and the Volkswagen Beetle.

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