New MINI Cooper gets petrol power and £22k starting price

British-built supermini boasts tech-centric cabin and lots of scope for customisation, but no manual gearbox

Spot of deja vu? You’re not wrong, because the all-electric version of the new MINI Cooper was unveiled last September at the Munich Motor Show, introducing the retro-inspired design and tech-centric interior of the new three-door hatch. But now it’s the petrol-powered model’s time to shine.

The petrol MINI Cooper doesn’t use the same platform as the MINI Cooper EV, but the dimensions are the same and the styling is nearly identical. There’s the new octagonal grille design and iconic circular headlights up front, while the rear features a set of customisable tail-lights connected by a black strip with ‘Cooper’ lettering across it. 

Another classic MINI design trait is the wheels pushed out right to the edges of the car and the short bonnet, but you may also notice there’s no chrome on the new Cooper, contributing to the smart, clean look. There’s no longer a bonnet scoop on Cooper S models, either.

There are a few differences that distinguish the petrol models from the EV (other than the grille not being blanked off). The petrol Cooper has a clamshell bonnet line, more like the current car’s, and heavier use of black-plastic cladding along the sides and rear. 

The interior, on the other hand, is identical to the EV’s, centred around an ultra-slim 9.4-inch OLED circular touchscreen that serves as both your instrument panel and infotainment display. The MINI does feature a bank of physical toggle switches below the touchscreen, where you’ll find the gear selector, start/stop key and a volume control.

Also located on the switch panel is the drive-mode selector, or ‘MINI Experience Modes’ as the brand now calls them. There’s a suite of seven modes to play with, including Core, Green and Go-Kart in place of the normal, eco and sport settings, plus more unique Personal, Vibrant, Timeless and Balance options. These do more than change the steering weight or throttle response; they also change the theme of the central display and which graphics are projected onto the dashboard. 

Other technology on offer includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, plus a virtual assistant, activated by saving “Hey MINI”, which is then represented on the screen by an avatar or MINI’s ‘digital companion’ Spike the dog. 

The MINI Cooper’s 210 litres of boot space is on par with the current three-door hatch’s, and is expandable to 725 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down. If you need something a little more practical, a five-door version of the petrol MINI Cooper is due later this year.

One thing you’ll notice is missing from the cabin is a clutch pedal, because the MINI Cooper is available exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

There are at least two petrol engines to choose from. The entry-level Cooper C uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit that produces 154bhp and 230Nm of torque. Meanwhile the Cooper S is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor pumping out 201bhp and 300Nm, with the extra oomph cutting the MINI’s 0-62mph time down from 7.7 to 6.6 seconds. 

Souped-up John Cooper Works versions of the new petrol MINI Cooper are also in the pipeline, and should be unveiled before the end of the year, but technical details are still under wraps for the time being. 

The petrol MINI Cooper is available in the same three trim levels as the EV: Classic, Exclusive and Sport. Classic comes with LED Headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, the circular OLED screen and plethora of MINI Experience Modes, sat-nav, rear-view camera, heated steering wheel, cruise control and safety features like lane-departure and ‘safe-exit’ warnings. 

However Cooper S models in the same specification get slightly more kit, including adaptable front and rear light signatures, a wireless charging pad, a head-up display and heated front seats, plus 17-inch rims as standard.

Exclusive trim builds on the base spec by adding silver grille surround and logos, ‘Nightshade Blue’ upholstery, light grey knit dashboard and lidded storage box, and blue decorative dashboard strap. As its name suggests, Sport trim opts for a racier look, with new front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler with airblades and 18-inch JCW alloy wheels. It goes beyond styling tweaks, though, adding upgraded sport brakes and sport transmission, plus shift paddles on the steering wheel.

This being a MINI, there’s lots of scope for customisation, with five exterior paints – including new Ocean Wave Green and Sunny Side Yellow – plus two contrasting roof colours and various alloy wheel designs to choose from. 

Three options packs simply named level one, two and three are also offered. These include goodies like a 360-degree parking camera, panoramic two-part sunroof, Harman Kardon sound system and augmented-reality navigation system, to name but a few.

Prices for the new MINI Cooper C start from £22,300, rising to £26,700 for the more potent MINI Cooper S. MINI is taking orders now, with the first deliveries due this spring.

The new petrol-powered MINI Cooper will be built in the brand’s historic Oxford plant, while the all-electric model will be built in China initially, before joining its combustion-engined sibling in the British plant from 2026.

Click here to read our MINI Cooper SE prototype review....

News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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