Used Mini Cooper (2008-2015) - mechanic says bad idea

Hi all - new poster here. Hope I can get some feedback from the car enthusiasts. I’ve always loved the look of a Mini and living in Philadelphia has gone from a nightmare to horrific bloody mess for parking. Getting a Mini (and going down about 4 feet in length from current vehicle) seems like a great idea. I’m not sold on the Smart/Fiat cars so this seems like the best option.

However, speaking with my mechanic (also a family friend and someone we trust greatly), when we called to talk with him about his views on the Mini, he was super glad we did. He said they don’t hold up at all on our streets (we have a major pothole problem) and it wouldn’t be a good buy. He thinks I’d do better sticking with a smaller Honda, Toyota, Kia, or Hyundai for both retaining value and less issues that might come up.

Can’t say I was particularly pleased with this feedback, so I’m looking for alternatives (and maybe someone to talk me out of listening to him :smiley:)

I was looking at the Mitsubishi Mirage, Honda Fit, Chevy Spark, Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, et al – looking for suggestions on small cars folks may like. What really drives me nuts is I like the handling and look of the Mini. Some of these little buggers like the Yaris and the Fit look…not as appealing. But, this is a point A to point B vehicle for me. All I need is something that will hold up well, not require a ton of maintenance, and tiny enough to park on these awful city streets. I’m married…the look of my car is of less importance these days.

Thanks for your thoughts in advance!

Honda Fit would get probably be my choice. My 1999 Civic is still going strong, so…

The 2011-2014 Mini Cooper has a much worse than average reliability rating from Consumer Reports – April 2019 issue. The ratings before 2010 are not shown.

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Listen to your mechanic it is that simple . Of your list I would choose the Mirage - Spark - Yaris and add the Ford Fiesta to it . These can be bought new with warranty for almost used vehicle prices .


Minis have a poor reliability record, poor initial quality and because of that sporty nature, will beat you and it into a pulp on broken Philly streets.

Fiats are just as bad, if not worse for quality.

Maybe a Yaris, or Fit. Maybe even a Rio. I’d toss in a Nissan Juke as well.

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What did Joe ever do to you?
:wink: :smile:


Well he SAID he wasn’t as concerned with how it looks! :grin:


Appreciate everyone’s feedback so far! That Mitsubishi Mirage looks like the best comparable in terms of length, any thoughts on its reliablity? I assume its a step below those Hondas and Toyotas of the world?


Honestly I think its a neat looking car. But beauty is in the eye of the beerholder, right?

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It gets an epically low new car overall score of 31 from Consumer Reports. Its reliability as a new car is average, owner satisfaction below average. The CR review ends with “…there is no compelling reason to buy a Mirage, and, for the same price, there are many much better used cars available.”

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I’d forego that Mini for a Soviet T34 tank if I was going to do daily dips into the city proper. Not sure if you just moved to the area of Brotherly Love but cars in the city do not get the type of love you are looking for, I promise.

As for a reliable platform, meh… I suppose they aren’t too bad, they have their bugaboos like all cars do but as a mechanic I find that kind of cute…you however may not. The differentiator here is higher than normal repair cost to fix normal issues and even preventive maintenance.

What kind of price can we get on those T-34’s these days? I’d go into Philly with that…


Who needs parking spots with the T34? Just make your own.

The 2016 Spark and Fit have about the same estimated repair costs according to Edmunds. Maintenance is about $2000 more for the Spark over a 5 year period. If you do your own work, that cost goes down as does the cost difference. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spark resale cost is lower than a Fit, maybe significantly. I know someone with a Fit. He must like it because he replaced it with another. You should also contact your insurer to see what they charge for different cars. I wouldn’t want to buy a car just to find out after the fact that my insurer want $1000 more per year for it.


So how does CR really feel? :stuck_out_tongue:

My compelling reason was to have a car comparable in size to the Mini. I have a 09’ Accord 4-door right now which is the ultimate point A to point B car, and my only complaint truly is that its just too darn big (even though it isn’t) for some of these BS spots that exist on my block. The car has hardly a thing wrong with it and maintenance has been a breeze for us since we got it 4 years ago, knock on wood.

Now, if I’m being picky, I’ve got a lot of gripes with it. The color could be described as “gold” but to me it looks more beige these days. I’m missing hub caps (the aforementioned city streets and I-95 are to blame, I suppose), the car doesn’t have any welcoming features that I’d write home about.

Truly, the only reason for the change would be to downsize (literally).

Owner’s seem to like their Mirage’s much better than most if not all of the car magazines that have tested them. The Fit would be my preference among cars this size since I know several owners, the Mirage is more of an unknown as far as reliability.

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Some of the older forum members may recall that CR tested both the Yugo and the Hyundai Excel shortly after they were introduced to the US marketplace, and that their verdict on those cars was something along the lines of… consumers would be better-off buying a good used car.

Like both the Yugo and the Hyundai Excel, the Mitsu Mirage was designed for Third-World consumers, and is not competitive with other new cars sold in The US.


Take into consideration my need though, as a city driver who uses his car maybe 1-2 a week. The furthest it will go is Atlantic City (approximately 60 miles) or other beach towns. I don’t drive much because I live in the city, in fact we use Ubers more often than not. I’m also very lucky to work from home 99% of the time, so I don’t have a daily commute grinding down the miles and wear and tear on my current vehicle.

This is why I was onto the Mini because 1) I like the way they look, but 2) the spots people leave for parking are atrocious; half spots and 75% spots no one can fit in. Instead of taking a club to my neighbors’ heads, I figured buying one of the tiniest cars would be a better option. :slight_smile:

If I was in your situation, I would be looking at the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris.
In both cases, their reliability/durability will be light-years beyond that of a Mini.
While neither of those cars will “handle” like a Mini, I have to assume that handling is not part of your requirements, otherwise you wouldn’t be considering a “clumsy-handling”* Mitsu Mirage. :wink:

*CR described the Mirage as tiny… tinny… sluggish… clumsy handling… and having a depressingly down-market interior.


If frequency of repair and repair costs aren’t of much concern for this application, suggest you go with the car you like best, the Mini. The Mini, it’s a great looking and performing car. Just the reports we get here and backed up from CR are that it isn’t quite as reliable as other makes, and the repair fees are higher than the alternatives. If I had the problem I’d choose a model from Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Kia, or Hyundai, starting w/ the Fit and Yaris as my first two test drives if only for the reason these are top sellers, so repair parts will be plentiful and moderately priced, and it will be easy to find a mechanic who knows how to fix them. You might try the forum search feature to see what folks here have to say about the Fit, Yaris, and Mini. Click the forum search icon upper right on this page.

I should add I’ve always liked the looks of the Ford Fiesta, so I’d probably give that one a test drive too, in its 2-door coupe version. Ford may be discontinuing the Fiesta after the 2019 model year however, so that’s a downside.

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Why are you being so generous, George . . . ?

Please say it like it is . . . “Mini reliability is a _______ joke.”


In my area there are twice as many Minis as there are Fit and Yaris combined. The Mini is a more popular car but not recommended for the absolutely frugal.

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