2019 MINI Cooper Convertible vs. 2018 Volkswagen Beetle

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Cooper Convertible offers optional City Safety, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Beetle doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Cooper Convertible has standard Rear Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Beetle doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Cooper Convertible and the Beetle have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

The Cooper Convertible comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. MINI will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Beetle.

The Cooper Convertible’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Beetle’s (12 vs. 10 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Cooper Convertible for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Beetle.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that MINI vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 12th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 17th in reliability. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

Engine

The Cooper Convertible S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 more horsepower (189 vs. 174) and 23 lbs.-ft. more torque (207 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The John Cooper Works Convertible’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 54 more horsepower (228 vs. 174) and 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the MINI Cooper Convertible (Base engine) is faster than the Volkswagen Beetle (automatics tested):

 

Cooper

Beetle

Zero to 30 MPH

2.5 sec

2.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.5 sec

7.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

5.4 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

16 sec

16.1 sec

Top Speed

124 MPH

118 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Convertible’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Beetle doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Cooper Convertible’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Beetle doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

The Cooper Convertible offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Beetle doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Cooper Convertible’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Beetle:

 

Cooper S

JCW

Beetle

Front Rotors

11.6 inches

13.2 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

10.2 inches

10.2 inches

10 inches

The Cooper Convertible stops much shorter than the Beetle:

 

Cooper

Beetle

 

70 to 0 MPH

158 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The Cooper Convertible’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Beetle’s optional 45 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the Cooper Convertible can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Beetle doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Cooper Convertible offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Beetle’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Cooper Convertible S handles at .91 G’s, while the Beetle Dune Convertible pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Cooper Convertible is 1 foot, 4.5 inches shorter than the Beetle, making the Cooper Convertible easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the MINI Cooper Convertible amounts to more than styling. The Cooper Convertible has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .36 Cd. That is lower than the Beetle (.37 to .39). A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Cooper Convertible get better fuel mileage.

Servicing Ease

The Cooper Convertible uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Beetle uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The Cooper Convertible offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Beetle doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

If the windows are left open on the Cooper Convertible the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Beetle can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Cooper Convertible’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Beetle’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Cooper Convertible has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Beetle only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Cooper Convertible detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Beetle doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

When the Cooper Convertible with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Beetle’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Convertible offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Beetle offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Cooper Convertible offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Beetle doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Cooper Convertible’s standard steering wheel mounted cruise control is close at hand. The Beetle’s standard cruise control is on an over-crowded turn signal stalk.

The Cooper Convertible’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Beetle doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The MINI Cooper comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Beetle isn’t available as a four-door.

Recommendations

The MINI Cooper outsold the Volkswagen Beetle by over two to one during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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