2022 Mini Cooper: Lots of driving fun, logic removed

James Raia

Twenty-two years ago, several years after it acquired the naming rights, BMW reintroduced the Mini. It was different but with a heritage still affixed to the original two-door compact city unveiled by British Motor Corporation in 1969.

The traditional Mini became an icon of British automotive culture. It’s the best-selling British sports car in history. It’s had starring automotive roles in movies and a successful racing career. Its sporting cuteness and unabashed driving fun defined its popularity.

The 2022 Mini Cooper is all about driving fun.
The 2022 Mini Cooper is all about driving fun. Images © James Raia/2021

The 2022 Mini Cooper is mechanically nearly the same as recent years’ models. Its variety of styles is its appeal as a niche offering for drivers willing to exchange comfort and practicality for driving fun and for reasons not-to-dissimilar from the reason people enjoy tiny houses. Less is more.

2022 Mini Cooper: Many Styles, Trims

Available as Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works (JCW) and Cooper SE electric models, all Mini are also available Classic, Signature and Iconic trims. Four-door hardtops cost $1,000 more than the two-door models.

With options as a brand signature trait, the two-door hardtop is powered by a turbo 1.5-liter inline three-cylinder with 134 horsepower has a start MSTRP of $22,900. The Signature and revised Iconic versions respectively start at $26,900 and $30,900.

The 2022 Mini Cooper has further options, a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic. Also featured are 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps with black inner housings and Sirius satellite radio.

The 2202 Mini Cooper has a substantial cargo area for its overall size.
The 2202 Mini Cooper has a substantial cargo area for its overall size.

Interior changes are minimal for 2022. The 8.8-inch digital screen is now centrally located and standard on all models. It’s complemented by standard Sirius satellite radio and a revised interior environment with two available color schemes (Lounge & Sport) and ambient lighting in six colors. A leather-covered, heated steering wheel with horizontal spokes and prominent thumb pads is also new as an option.

2022 Mini Cooper: Tiny House on Wheels

Remaining the same is the Mini’s homage to racing, with plenty of toggle switches and an oversized oval infotainment screen. Gas mileage averages are 27 miles per gallon in city driving, 37 mpg on the highway. There’s room for four grocery bags or one carry-on suitcase and a small backpack in the rear compartment. Seating is tight for front-seat occupants; the back seats are afterthoughts, with space only for the smallest of the petite.

While still bearing the classic Mini look, the 2022 Mini Cooper has a new hexagonal grille bisected by a body-color panel covering called the “safety bar.” The new bumper has air curtains for better aerodynamics. The fog lights are now within each headlight assembly.

The new look is further trendy with side lighting and LED turn signals. There’s also a new rear bumper with a wider presence. A small, new traditional touch: taillights with the Union Jack motif are now standard. And adding to the modernization theme: the Mini’s exterior paint choices now include Island Blue, Rooftop Grey and Zesty Yellow.

Lane-departure warning and Driving Assistant (combines a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking) is new. Apple CarPlay is also standard on new models with navigation systems. Run-flat tires, black, white, or silver hood stripes, a Harman Kardon premium audio system and a touchscreen navigation system with a wireless smartphone charger are first-time options.

2022 Mini Cooper: Drive it, Park it

True to its legacy, driving the 2022 Mini is all about fun. The six-speed manual transmission isn’t the smoothest, but the sporty compact is smooth at freeway speeds. The Mini embraces driving. It maneuvers on twisting mountain roads as is the driver is alpine skiing on wheels. Tight parking lots? Bring ’em on.

The Mini, like other niche vehicles, has suffered from the popularity of SUVs. The British automotive icon reached its peak with 71,000 sales in 2012. The tally slipped to 28,000 in 2020.

There’s plenty to say for fun when driving. The Mini provides it, logic removed.


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