One of many repeat winners in this, The Good 12 v2.0, the Mini Cooper made its case last year with low-cost and low-risk fun. Nothing has changed.
Mini still offers the Cooper S. That car, along with the Clubman, Convertible, and John Cooper Works packages could potentially add to the fun. However, they also add big numbers on to the MSRP. Meanwhile, the basic Cooper offers nearly as many thrills-per-minute because Mini's owner, BMW, didn't forget that corners can be just as much fun with 117 horsepower as with 172.
Minis aren't as tiny inside as you'd expect, but nobody can justifiably make the case that one purchases a Cooper for its hatchback versatility. Nope, the Mini Cooper looks cool and drives well. Make no bones about it. Oh, and for a $19K car, the Cooper is fairly luxurious. Stability control, keyless entry, air conditioning, one-touch-up power windows, and a six-speaker stereo? Standard equipment.
Engines: 118 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6L four-cylinder
City Mileage: 25-28 mpg
Base USD Price: $18,550
Anything Else? If you can't get over the expense of such a low-powered small car when bigger and more powerful options are sometimes less expensive, remember that Mini includes the first three years of maintenance (up to 36,000 miles).