In 1959, a ground-breaking new, boxy subcompact coupe emerged in England using a transverse-mounted engine and a space-efficient front-wheel-drive layout. Within its tiny footprint it provided a surprising amount of usable space for people and packages. Because it was affordable, stylish, fun to drive and easy to park anywhere, the British Mini and sportier Mini Cooper quickly achieved icon status around the world -- including the U.S., where it sold as a brief counter-culture favorite during the 1960s.
After a lengthy break, the Mini Cooper returned to our shores in 2002 under BMW's direction to resurrect the legend. These new Minis have provided a uniquely sporting blend of classic British mini-car heritage and charm, with precise German engineering and construction. An abundance of available features is what makes a Mini a Mini. Available as either a two- or four-door hatchback or a convertible (depending on the year), this small car has an infectious personality thanks to its quick steering and sharp handling. Early 21st-century Coopers weren't especially speedy off the line, but Mini has upgraded the engines over the years, and modern versions offer a compelling compromise of performance and fuel efficiency.