2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop Video Review: Three Mighty Cylinders Are All You Need To Have Fun

This is the Mini you may want to consider if you don't want to spend a fortune

(Images: TFLcar, unless otherwise noted)

The 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop we just drove is one step above a base model: and it was awesome!

Everyone at TFL Studios loves cars like the 2021 Mini Cooper hardtop that we had some fun with. Many of us own, or have owned a Mini in the past, and that’s counting Tommy’s current “old” Mini Cooper clone. The problem in the past has been; we never seem to get base models of the Mini Cooper – until now.

Granted, this one has age $4,000 “Signature Trim” package. If it didn’t (and if it were a 6-speed manual), it would have a starting price of $22,900. As equipped, this model costs $26,400 before destination and handling fees. With that price, you get painted 16-inch wheels and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. You also get a comfort access key, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, Mini’s “Excitement” package, automatic climate control, LED foglight/LED headlights with cornering motion and all-season tires.

For reference, a fully-loaded Nissan Kicks runs around $25,000.

I have to say that, as is typical of German car companies, Mini nickels and dimes you for options. It is nearly impossible to get an individual upgrade color — other than gray…I wonder why — without paying for an additional package. It’s aggravating, not to mention navigating their configurator site just to try and build your Mini in the first place.

At its heart, little guy has a 134 horsepower, 1.5-liter, three-cylinder “Twin Power” turbocharged engine. It makes an impressive 162 lb-ft of torque, and comes mated in this case to a 7-speed twin-clutch transmission. This setup gives it an EPA 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 31 mpg combined rating. Keep in mind, those numbers are on the recommended premium fuel.

Fun-seekers, you’ll dig driving the 2021 Mini Cooper hardtop.

Mini still builds its cars at the Cowley plant in Oxford, UK, but 35% of the parts are sourced from Germany. That includes the engine and transmission. Honestly, it’s a decision that’s A-OK with me, because they work really well. I was unsure about BMW’s dual-clutch transmission tech (I usually opt for the manual if possible), but this seven-speed is pretty damn good. Shifts clicked by easily, and it didn’t have the “rubber-band” feel of some units as you pull off the line.

Image: Mini

Steering is absolutely spot-on, but it does not impart as much feedback as the older generation Minis. Still, the weight is good, and the ability to turn on a dime is impressive. Sure, the ride is harsh compared to popular small crossovers, but it’s well sorted for a low-slung commuter. When you are finished banging around corners and let the car settle on the highway, the ride is firm, but rarely harsh.

The brakes are a bit sensitive, you will definitely feel it in traffic. It takes time to get used to how quickly they react. This 3,200 lbs car stops at the drop of a hat.

I truly like the responsiveness of this little three-cylinder engine. It spools up quickly, and it never runs out of breath, even at high elevation. It can slow up a bit, if you pack it full of passengers – which I did once. Basically, I was penalizing my family and forced them out for a drive. The kids in back had to sit, legs crossed to fit. It’s what I call, “Mini Cooper Yoga.”

Laughter inducing 2021 Mini Cooper Hardtop conclusion.

All in all, I long for my younger self when I drive one of these. The “younger” Nathan that lived in Los Angeles, not Denver. This little car would be ideal in a big city, and I would thrill at the chance to commute using canyon routes in one of these. Hell, even in the Rocky Mountains, this car puts a smile on my face every time.

If you like to drive, it will make you smile too!