2019 MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door vs. 2018 Chevrolet Spark

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door 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 Spark offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Spark doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Both the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Spark have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee 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.

The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door weighs 438 to 684 pounds more than the Chevrolet Spark. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Spark’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s corrosion warranty is 6 years and unlimited miles longer than the Spark’s (12/unlimited vs. 6/100,000).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door for 1 year and 12000 miles longer than Chevrolet pays for maintenance for the Spark (3/36,000 vs. 2/24,000).

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Spark’s 80-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

Engine

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 36 more horsepower (134 vs. 98) and 68 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 94) than the Spark’s 1.4 DOHC 4 cyl. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 91 more horsepower (189 vs. 98) and 113 lbs.-ft. more torque (207 vs. 94) than the Spark’s 1.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Spark doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door Auto’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 Spark doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Spark (11.6 vs. 9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A six-speed manual is standard on the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door, with closer gear ratios for better performance and a lower final drive ratio for quieter highway operation, less engine wear and better fuel mileage. Only a five-speed manual is available for the Spark.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S Auto’s optional launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Spark doesn’t offer launch control.

The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door manual has a downshift rev synchronizer that automatically raises engine speed to make downshifts perfectly smooth. This keeps the car from lurching during downshifts, preventing loss of control during cornering. The Spark doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Spark:

 

Cooper

Cooper S

Spark

Front Rotors

11 inches

11.6 inches

9.3 inches

Rear Rotors

10.2 inches

10.2 inches

7.9” drums

The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Spark. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes which work much harder than conventional brakes.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Spark (205/45R17 vs. 185/55R15).

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’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 Spark’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Spark’s largest wheels are only 15-inches.

The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Chevrolet Spark only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Spark doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Chevrolet Spark has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door flat and controlled during cornering. The Spark’s suspension doesn’t offer stabilizer bars.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door 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 Spark’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Spark doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s wheelbase is 7.2 inches longer than on the Spark (101.1 inches vs. 93.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 4.3 inches wider in the front and 4.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Spark.

Chassis

The front grille of the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Spark doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard seating for 5 passengers; the Spark can only carry 4.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has .9 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more front shoulder room and .5 inches more rear headroom than the Spark.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s rear seats recline. The Spark’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Spark with its rear seat up (13.1 vs. 11.1 cubic feet). The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Spark with its rear seat folded (40.7 vs. 27.2 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Spark 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

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Spark doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Spark doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Spark LT/ACTIV.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Spark LT/ACTIV’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door 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 Spark can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard power locks allow the driver or passenger to lock or unlock all the doors at a touch without leaning over, or reaching to the back seat. The Spark LS doesn’t offer power locks.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’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 Spark’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Spark doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Spark doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Spark doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To better shield the driver’s vision, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard dual-element sun visor that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The Spark doesn’t offer a secondary sun visor.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard extendable sun visor. The Spark doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Chevrolet only offers heated mirrors on the Spark LT/ACTIV.

When the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door 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 Spark’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Spark doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Spark doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Spark doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door 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 Spark doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Spark’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

With standard voice command, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The Spark doesn’t offer a voice control system.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’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 Spark doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door will retain 48.13% to 49.5% of its original price after five years, while the Spark only retains 40.73% to 41.29%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is less expensive to operate than the Spark because typical repairs cost less on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door than the Spark, including $48 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door first among compact sporty cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Spark isn’t in the top three in its category.

The MINI Cooper outsold the Chevrolet Spark by 43% during 2017.

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

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