2020 MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door vs. 2019 Nissan Sentra

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Sentra doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has standard Assist eCall, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Sentra doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Sentra 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 and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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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 Sentra’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 7 years longer than the Sentra’s (12 vs. 5 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Sentra.

Reliability

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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 Sentra’s 110-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door first among compact sporty cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Sentra isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks MINI 5 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (134 vs. 124) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 125) than the Sentra CVT’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s 1.5 turbo 3 cyl. produces 4 more horsepower (134 vs. 130) and 34 lbs.-ft. more torque (162 vs. 128) than the Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 59 more horsepower (189 vs. 130) and 78 lbs.-ft. more torque (206 vs. 128) than the Sentra’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Sentra 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 Sentra doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Sentra doesn’t offer an SMG.

To help the driver achieve optimum performance and fuel economy, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard up-shift light to indicate when to shift based on power needs and conditions. The Sentra doesn’t offer an up-shift light.

A standard “hill holder” feature keeps the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door with manual transmission from rolling backwards on a steep slope. The Sentra doesn’t offer a hill holder feature.

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 Sentra 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 Sentra doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.

Brakes and Stopping

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

Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S

Sentra

Front Rotors

11.6 inches

11 inches

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

Tires and Wheels

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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 Sentra SR/SL’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Sentra’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

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 Sentra doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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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 Nissan Sentra has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

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 Sentra’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

Chassis

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 2 feet shorter than the Sentra, making the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

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 Sentra doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has .5 inches more front headroom and .8 inches more rear headroom than the Sentra.

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

Cargo Capacity

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To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. The Sentra’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Servicing Ease

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

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Sentra doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A Service Interval Indicator is standard on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes and brake pad replacement, vehicle inspection based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Nissan doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Sentra.

Ergonomics

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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 Sentra doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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 Sentra’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 Sentra can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Sentra’s power window (except driver window) and power lock switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 Sentra’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 Sentra doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard rear wiper. The Sentra doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

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 Sentra 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 Sentra doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Sentra and aren’t offered on the Sentra S.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The Sentra’s power mirror controls are on the dash where they are possibly hidden by the steering wheel and are awkward to manipulate.

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 Sentra’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door 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 Sentra offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Sentra doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door will cost $295 to $3055 less than the Sentra over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is less expensive to operate than the Sentra because typical repairs cost less on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door than the Sentra, including $153 less for fuel injection.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/21

Consumer Reports® recommends the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Sentra isn't recommended.

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 Sentra isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

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