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Both the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Golf 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Golf’s (12 vs. 10 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. Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Golf.
A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf’s camshafts. If the Golf’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door first among compact sporty cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Golf isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 23rd in initial quality. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.
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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks MINI 7 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 42 more horsepower (189 vs. 147) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (206 vs. 184) than the Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.
Regenerative brakes improve the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Golf doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
Regardless of its engine, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Volkswagen only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Golf Auto.
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 Golf 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 Golf doesn’t offer an up-shift light.
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 Golf 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 Golf doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.
For better stopping power the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf:
Cooper Hardtop 4 Door S
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 Golf’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Golf’s largest wheels are only 16-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 Golf doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
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 Golf’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 10.2 inches shorter than the Golf, 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 Golf doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has 1.5 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more front legroom than the Golf.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s rear seats recline. The Golf’s rear seats don’t recline.
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 Golf doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
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 Golf can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
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 Golf 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 Golf doesn’t offer cornering lights.
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 Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.
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 Golf’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 Golf offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
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 Golf 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 Golf 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 Golf doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the MINI Cooper offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Golf doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
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 Golf doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
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 42.59% to 47.57% of its original price after five years, while the Golf only retains 41.43% to 42.06%.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is less expensive to operate than the Golf because it costs $173 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door than the Golf, including $155 less for a starter, $5 less for fuel injection and $63 less for front struts.
Consumer Reports® recommends both the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Volkswagen Golf, based on reliability, safety and performance.
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 Golf isn’t in the top three in its category.
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