The Pros and Cons of Owning a MINI

A highly customized MINI Countryman in the showroom of a dealership.
A highly customized MINI Countryman in the showroom of a dealership. | Source

Author's Experience

I have owned a Mini Cooper for almost three years. I researched MINI thoroughly before buying it, and did not want to write an article until I felt I fully experienced what a MINI brand vehicle had to offer.

What is a MINI?

So what is a mini? It's basically a small, economy car known for their speed, extreme drifting, and unique look. There have been various types of mini cars over the last several decades, but their popularity have surged due to the fact they are available almost all over the world, their unique look, and race car quality.

MINI, which is owned by BMW, is recognized at making some of the most popular mini cars. While the Cooper is the most recognized, there are other models of the MINI out there to choose from.

This article will cover the following topics:

  • The Pros of Owning a MINI
  • The Cons of Owning a MINI
  • My Personal Experience Owning a MINI
  • The Current Models Offered by MINI

Various models of the MINI available on the lot of a dealership.
Various models of the MINI available on the lot of a dealership. | Source
Although his board is a bit messy, there are lots of options you can look at to see what you want on your MINI.
Although his board is a bit messy, there are lots of options you can look at to see what you want on your MINI. | Source
This MINI has options added after it was purchased from the dealership.
This MINI has options added after it was purchased from the dealership. | Source
The color combinations you can put on a MINI are varied and interesting.
The color combinations you can put on a MINI are varied and interesting. | Source

The Pros of Owning a MINI

I'll start with the positives as to why you should own a MINI brand vehicle:

  • Fun to drive. The main reason I wanted a MINI was because they looked so fun to drive. Once I got behind the wheel, I knew it was a good choice. They can quickly go fast, make turns without a problem, and can practically park anywhere. A don't really care to drive, but when I do, I want it to be in a fun car. Of all of the vehicles I have owned, the MINI has been the most fun.
  • Customization. When I was first shopping around for a MINI, I went to their website to play with the various options I could have on the car. One thing about a MINI is that you can customize it almost anyway you want. Not only does the MINI stand out among other cars, you can make your own MINI stand out among other MINIs.
  • Affordable. If you choose not to get any options, this can be a very affordable car to buy. Granted, having some of the neater options are nice, they are not required when purchasing a MINI.
  • Lessened frequency of maintenance. A MINI doesn't need to get an oil change, regular maintenance, etc., done every few months like other cars. Instead, you can go two years before having the car checked out. With the standard three year warranty, you can take it to a MINI dealership to have it go through it's first maintenance. Though, I choose to get my oil changed sooner somewhere else just so it would have clean oil.
  • Great gas mileage. Even though MINI cars use the premium gas, it does offer decent gas mileage. I only have to fill up my tank once a month, and that is driving to and from work, other places around town, etc. I can do about six to seven hours of solid freeway driving before needing a fill-up, as well.
  • High resale value. A MINI brand car has a pretty good resale value, assuming the car is in great shape and has no problems with it. If and when you decide to get rid of your MINI, you will earn more back than what you would with other vehicles. I tend to change cars every five years, and while I may not with the MINI, having a high trade in value is definitely a bonus.

Example of one of the older MINI models, which isn't for sale, but is nice to look at.
Example of one of the older MINI models, which isn't for sale, but is nice to look at. | Source
While this is a nice looking MINI, with all of the options it has, it is quite expensive.
While this is a nice looking MINI, with all of the options it has, it is quite expensive. | Source
Even the interior of the MINI can seem a little tight and small.
Even the interior of the MINI can seem a little tight and small. | Source
There isn't much trunk space, but you can work with it to fit as much as you need.
There isn't much trunk space, but you can work with it to fit as much as you need. | Source

The Cons of Owning a MINI

Unfortunately, there are cons to buying and owning a MINI as well, some of which I have experienced personally.

  • MINI knows you want one. When people shop around for a car, they can bounce from dealership to dealership without really expressing they want a particular type of car. Unfortunately, when shopping for a MINI, most dealers will know that you want one of those in particular. If you express you drove a long way, loved them for years, etc., then they can turn that against you.
  • Can be expensive. If you want to get multiple options, then the price of a MINI can skyrocket. With all of the options I wanted, the price of my vehicle jumped by over 30%! Granted, it was worth it, but it made it the most expensive car I have ever owned. So be prepared to spend a lot of money if you want various options to make your car unique.
  • Dealerships aren't everywhere. In my case, the closest dealership is about an hour and a half away, and is a pain to drive to. I am lucky that I have one that close. Other people may have to travel hours to get to a MINI dealership. If you do buy a MINI, then ensure you learn about your warranty. The flatbed service they offer to pickup your MINI is only for a limited area, and even getting a rental while your car is being repaired can be limited in how far you can drive it.
  • Maintenance can be expensive. Once your car is out of warranty, all repairs will need to be covered by you. There are extended warranty options, but those are expensive as well. Despite MINI brand cars becoming more common, the repairs can be very expensive. So if you purchase one, be prepared for that if your car starts to have issues.
  • It's a small car. I went from a sports car to a MINI, which to me was a big jump in size, but a lot of people complain that there is very little storage space. It's not meant to be a family car, it's meant to be a fun car that can barely fit four people. I can hold a lot in my car, it just requires a bit of effort. But, the more expensive models have more space.
  • Uses the most expensive fuel. Despite the decent fuel economy, the MINI does require premium fuel. You can use the cheaper types of gas, but it won't be great for your MINI, and will require more fill-ups, so it's strongly discouraged that you do that.
  • Non-MINI dealerships won't do a good job servicing your vehicle. I took my car in to a local repair shop to deal with a couple small issues, as well as an oil change. They couldn't fix the issues I had with my car, and missed a very critical issue that my dealership found months later. So don't rely on a non-MINI dealership/repair shop to take good car of your vehicle.

My MINI Cooper S, which I have owned for almost three years.
My MINI Cooper S, which I have owned for almost three years. | Source
The interior of my MINI.
The interior of my MINI. | Source
MINI dealerships have a unique look, which doesn't make waiting for your car to be repaired all that bad.
MINI dealerships have a unique look, which doesn't make waiting for your car to be repaired all that bad. | Source

Secret Compartment in the MINI Cooper

Still Want a MINI?

After reading everything, do you still want a MINI?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Undecided.
See results without voting

My Personal Experience Owning a MINI

I'd like to offer some of my own experience buying a MINI, just to give you a taste what I had to go through.

I had wanted a MINI for years. I did a lot of researched before deciding to buy one. I actually had to go to three dealerships before I finally purchased my MINI. I will cover each experience with each dealership.

  • Dealership #1 - I was on vacation one week, and decided to make the two hour drive to test drive a MINI. I arrived at the dealership and felt like I was more of a pain since I wasn't buying at that time. I was given a short test-drive, and sent on my way. That thoroughly discouraged me and I stopped looking for awhile.
  • Dealership #2 - I decided I would buy a MINI, despite my negative experience, but it took months for me to get to that point. I made an appointment with this dealership to test drive a vehicle. When I arrived, I was advised there were no automatics to test drive, as they were all still "wrapped up". They had a lot full of cars, but none of them were automatics. The salesman had the gal to state I could still make a down-payment on a MINI, even though I hadn't test driven the one I wanted yet. I walked out, very upset.
  • Dealership #3 - Even though I was upset, I was close to another dealership. I made the short drive to that one. The salesman was very nice, I was able to find the MINI I wanted, and purchased it that day. It was a great experience, it was just a shame it took three attempts to find a good dealership.

So now I owned a MINI. I had a couple small issues with it, nothing too bad and nothing that warranted taking it back to the dealership. I did take it in to a local place after a couple years to have the oil changed and to look at a minor issue. Unfortunately, they couldn't fix it.

I recently took it in to my dealership to get full maintenance done on it, as well as have some issues looked at. Unfortunately, it was going to take more than a day, so I was given a rental and would have to go back the next day. By the time I arrived the next day, it still wasn't done. I basically wasted two days on getting the car maintained, but it was worth it.

There was an oil leak, which apparently is common in MINI's, but for whatever reason they don't tell people that or do a recall. Had it been ignored, especially since the local repair shop didn't find it, it would have crippled the vehicle. There were some recalls as well, but for whatever reason, I was never notified of those.

Despite all of that, I was pleased with the service. They talked to me throughout the process, and for the first time ever, I was taken back to my vehicle where the mechanic explained some of the repairs to me. Even the mechanic was friendly. So despite the issues I had having to take two days off work to get this done, I was happy overall with the experience.

I love my MINI, it's the best car I have owned. I am concerned about any future repair costs, but I think if you take care of your car, have MINI look at it directly, etc., then there shouldn't be many issues. I recommend this car for anyone who wants something fun and exciting to drive.

Great MINI Video

One of the many MINI models.
One of the many MINI models. | Source
Another picture of the same dealership, with a variety of MINI's.
Another picture of the same dealership, with a variety of MINI's. | Source

What Model MINI do You Want?

What model of MINI do you want the most?

  • Cooper
  • Clubman
  • Convertible
  • Countryman
  • Coupe
  • Roadster
  • Paceman
See results without voting

The Current Models Offered by MINI

Currently, these are the models offered by MINI:

  • Cooper - This is the hardtop MINI, and the one most recognized. It's considered the basic, and the cheapest, model. This is the model that started all the craze.
  • Clubman - This is basically a longer version of the Cooper, allowing for more legroom, with a different way to open the trunk. If you want more space, this is the way to go.
  • Convertible - If you live in a nice place, then the convertible version is the way to go. The top goes down nicely, and seems to be a popular model among celebrities.
  • Countryman - This could be considered to be a SUV, and the first model to have doors for the front and backseat passengers. It can also have four-wheel drive.
  • Coupe - This is the fastest of the models, and has quite the distinct look, unlike the other models. Expect this one to be a tight fit.
  • Roadster - Basically, this is the convertible version of the couple.
  • Paceman - Another cross-model, this is the two-door version of the Countryman, and is one of the newest models.
  • John Cooper Works - You can choose to upgrade to the John Coopers Works edition of most of the MINI models, but with a high price tag. If you want the best engine, you can go with this.

MINI Cooper S

More by this Author

Comments 21 comments

Writer Fox profile image

Writer Fox 2 years ago from the wadi near the little river

Exceptional review of this car! It's always good to hear from a real buyer. Enjoyed and voted up.

Tolovaj profile image

Tolovaj 2 years ago

With all the pros and cons it looks being an owner of Mini still shows class. It's obviously not a car, it's part of the lifestyle. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

The Mini is certainly an iconic car. I have been somewhat perturbed by Mini's recent insistence in making larger vehicles. It gets a way from the core concept, which is "Mini":) Wonderful overview on a very interesting vehicle.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 2 years ago from Western NC

You know, if dealerships are really friendly and establish relationships with you, then they're likely to keep you as a customer. It's amazing how many don't get that. I started shopping for a New Beetle (this was back in 2000) about six months before I wanted to get one. I went to the VW dealership and test-drove a turbo. I had a great rapport with the salesman and when I was ready, I had promised him that I would buy the car from him. All these years later I still remember all that.

I might have to look at a Mini for my next car...I'm into smaller fast cars that can still drive in the mountains and snow. :)

Nathaniel 20 months ago

Hi David, this is a great and honest write up. I am still looking to own my first Mini Cooper and really worried about the after warranty cost. I am eyeing 2014 models because of the technology it has. However, the resale value is still up there. I can't wait for my bucket list to happen.

Any feedback on 2014 models like oil problems and check engine lights which are difficult to being unable to be repaired like the 08 and lower models?

davidlivermore profile image

davidlivermore 20 months ago from Bakersfield, California, United States Author

Oil problems I haven't heard about, but there seems to be consistent technical issues. I would expect the check engine light to go on, but I would take it in for yearly maintenance for them to solve issues like that.

Don't trust what they tell you either. They may say that issues like that have been resolved, but that isn't true. It's a gamble.

colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 17 months ago from Minnesota

Minis sure are fun to drive, that's the part I like. Really, this is a great review on these little cars. Congrats on HOTD!

Nicoinstitches profile image

Nicoinstitches 17 months ago from Ottawa, ON

I have own my Mini Cooper for 4 years now and still love it. It has become our main car.

SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 17 months ago from Arkansas USA

I see Mini Coopers on the road fairly often around here and I think they're adorable. I had no idea that MINIs were available in the various models that you described. Glad you're enjoying yours. Congratulations on HOTD!

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 17 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great hub, David. I didn't know there were different kinds of mini coopers out there. Thanks for sharing this hub on this expensive car. Voted up for interesting! Congrats on HOTD!

TheGutterMonkey profile image

TheGutterMonkey 17 months ago

Didn't Kevin Arnold use to ride one of these in The Wonder Years?

bankscottage profile image

bankscottage 17 months ago from Pennsylvania

I bought a Mini in Nov., 2002, a Green 2003 CooperS. I bought it because I had just paid off my student loans. I enjoy driving mine. It handles like a very peppy gokart. I only drive it in the summer and store it in the winter (live in northwestern PA with a ton of snow). I still enjoy driving it and usually can get another person to ride with me without any problem. It is tough to get a 3rd or 4th person to join us because no adult wants to sit in the small back seat. As the car has aged, I have noticed that the ride had gotten a little harsher and noisier. While the car is fun to drive, it is not much fun to ride in on long trips. My goal is to keep it until I can put antique or classic plates on. Drive on.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

thanks, I was thinking of buying a second hand mini because new one is imported and very expensive. Your reviews are very useful to me

Penelope 12 months ago

Like so many others, I also have been desiring a Mini for quite some tyme. I am also trying to wait til I pay off my student loan b4 purchasing one. But thanks for the stellar review & the Mini is definitely my choice

PoggyDobby profile image

PoggyDobby 9 months ago from Probably Earth

A very interesting article. I certainly liked the structure and how certain capsules were placed.

Although I enjoyed reading, it didn't persuade me at all into believing that owning a Mini is beneficial. I mean, at that price you can get a faster, easier to take care of and probably more reliable car (e.g. Volkswagen GTI). No offence to Mini Cooper drivers but paying extra thousands of dollars to add some "unique" aspects to it is absolutely ridiculous, a rip-off to be accurate. Apart from that, I haven't seen any "extreme drifting" or high performance Mini cars "known for their speed". Correct me if I'm wrong.

Val 4 months ago

i bought a Mini Cooper 6 months ago. The dealership wasn't local so they bought the car over to test drive and took my Mazda mx5 to value. I was allowed to go to the Lake District for the weekend..over 2 hours drive each way, but fell in love with it within 30 mins. When they came to collect the mini and bought mine back I was when the salesman asked me if I wanted to buy one I asked to buy the one I drove. Very happy with the vehicle...I had it checked today for the ambient was me messing that had caused the problem...but they sent me a video showing they had checked the tyres and brakes as standard and Even valeted the vehicle...didn't cost me anything. Very pleased.

Kimmy 3 months ago

Are mini's reliable? I've read up on ConsumerAffairs and the list of issues on reliability and cost of maintenance and repairs is astounding... kinda puts me off getting one although I really want a 2016 model of the Clubman...

Jamen 2 months ago

I am about to purchase countryman model but still thinking of it as worried about the long term cost of maintenance as this will be costly affair. Is there anyone can let me know an honest answer of this issue? to own or not to own?

davidlivermore profile image

davidlivermore 2 months ago from Bakersfield, California, United States Author

I am the author of this article, and as much as I love the look and feel of a Mini, I can't recommend them.

Mine started to have issues fairly quickly, and with the 1.5 hour drive to the closest dealership, it wasn't cost effective. Plus, I was never advised of a recall on a part that could have lead to serious problems with my car.

If you want to risk it, then go for it, but buyer beware.

Kitty 6 weeks ago

Loved this review. Being a person who knows nothing about cars and wanting to get mini cooper, you increased my confidence. Thank you.

Jing 5 weeks ago

i own a mini cooper S 2012 the clutch failed with only 54000 kilometers and cost me 2500 to fix , still fun to drive but i wouldnt recommend it

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    David Livermore (davidlivermore)394 Followers
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    David has had a variety of life experiences which he loves to share with his readers.

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