2 Reasons We’ll Miss The Base Mini Cooper, and 1 We Won’t

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

We recently spent a week with the basic Mini Cooper 3-Door and had a case of the smiles.

While the brand’s iconic model is feeling its age ahead of a new version for 2025, especially on the safety front, there’s still plenty to recommend it for those wanting an affordable city car with actual character. Here are two reasons we’ll miss it, along with one we won’t.

Miss It: Fun to Drive

It’s a cliché for a reason: the Mini is a blast to fling around town, even in base Cooper form. The reasons are numerous: that little turbo three-cylinder is super torquey, so it can slot into gaps in traffic without issue and doesn’t feel out of its element on the highway. The tiny dimensions are another advantage too, especially when even a family RAV4 is gigantic these days. Last but not least, the modest 16-inch wheels and their narrow tires make for a hatchback that has discernible limits on the road, well below the posted ones. The Mini Cooper feels fast when driven slow, a trait all too rare these days.

Miss It: An Affordable Manual

We hate to seem broken-recordy here, but the manual Mini is something of a unicorn. Manuals of any breed are rare these days, but the Mini Cooper 3-Door is so unique because it’s a relatively affordable, fun three-pedal car that isn’t a pure performance machine. Of course the JCW models have a row-your-own option, as they should; but what other city car has a manual? Thought so.

There’s just one problem here…

Won’t Miss: Uh, That Manual

We said it. We don’t like it either. But listen: this isn’t a great manual. It’s friendly and easy to learn, sure, but the throws are super rubbery and the clutch is vague. While there’s good vibration isolation to maintain the Mini’s premium status, there’s just little feedback from that long shifter.

Making matters worse, the six-speed seems geared for JCW duty, because these are hilariously long ratios. Like, one could leave the thing in fourth for the highway and wouldn’t be too bothered by the revs. This is undoubtedly to maximize efficiency, but the result is a car that isn’t as fun as it could be.

We’ll miss the manual in the JCW, and given the look of the new car’s center console, there’s no easy way to bring back the stick. But for the base model? We’re fine with Mini’s excellent dual-clutch. Sorry not sorry.

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Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

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