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Both the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Jetta 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.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Jetta’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 Jetta.
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 Jetta’s camshafts. If the Jetta’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 Jetta 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 Jetta’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 Jetta 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 Jetta 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 Jetta 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 Jetta 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 Jetta 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 Jetta doesn’t offer a downshift rev synchronizer.
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 Jetta R-Line/SEL Premium’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door offers optional 18-inch wheels. The Jetta’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 Jetta doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
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 Volkswagen Jetta 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 Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
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 Jetta’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door is 2 feet, 3.7 inches shorter than the Jetta, making the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has 1.4 inches more front headroom, .3 inches more front legroom and .3 inches more rear headroom than the Jetta.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s rear seats recline. The Jetta’s rear seats don’t recline.
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 Jetta’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Jetta 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 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 Jetta 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 Jetta can’t use the remote to operate the windows.
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 Jetta’s standard 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. Heated windshield washer nozzles are not available on the Jetta S.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door has a standard rear wiper. The Jetta doesn’t offer a rear wiper.
The Cooper Hardtop 4 Door’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Volkswagen charges extra for heated mirrors on the Jetta.
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 Jetta’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 Jetta 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 Jetta doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
The MINI Cooper comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Volkswagen Jetta isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.
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 $725 less than the Jetta 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 Jetta because typical repairs cost much less on the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door than the Jetta, including $219 less for a water pump, $228 less for a muffler, $137 less for a starter, $231 less for fuel injection and $52 less for front struts.
Consumer Reports® recommends both the MINI Cooper Hardtop 4 Door and the Volkswagen Jetta, 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 Jetta was rated second in its category.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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