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The Mini Cooper Tires You Need for Your Next Italian Job

Your Mini Cooper is one of the most stylish bang-for-the-buck cars on the road. It should have tires to match.

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BY/ March 30, 2022

When BMW introduced the modern Mini Cooper and Cooper S 20 years ago, it revolutionized the way people purchased a new car. Mini’s groundbreaking online configurator allowed prospective buyers to choose from dozens of options to build their own unique version of the little hatchback. From Union Jack side mirror caps to rear spoilers and boost gauges, the ways you could spec your Mini straight from the factory seemed limitless.


Among those options were wheel choices. Ranging from 15 inches up to 18 on some performance models, Mini offered plenty of stylish rims that perfectly complemented Frank Stephenson’s not quite modern, not quite retro design. Knowing the enthusiast mindset of their customers, Mini paired those wheels with performance-oriented tires. I was among those who bought a first generation Mini, a 2003 silver Cooper S with a black top, sun roof, and the six-speed manual transmission. Long after I sold it, it remains one of my favorite cars.


One of the striking aspects of my Mini was how capable it could be in many driving situations simply by swapping out the tires. On sticky Hoosier race rubber, it was nearly unbeatable at track days and Autocross. (I have a SCCA regional championship to prove it.) Slap some steelies and winter tires on there, and despite its low ride height, it can be a bulldog in the snow, a necessity for my winters here in Montana. And with a quiet set of all-seasons, the Mini makes for an engaging and efficient daily commuter.


The contemporary Mini carries on this do-it-all spirit in the most recent generation of the car. While the Mini comes in multiple flavors now, such as the lifted all-wheel-drive Countryman and the four-door Clubman, the heart of the range is still the two-door Mini Cooper. If you’ve got a contemporary Mini Cooper, there is a wide range of tire choices out there that can help you tackle all kinds of driving conditions. The Drive is here to sort through those options with the best tires for Mini Cooper and Cooper S in 2022.

Best Overall

Cooper Zeon RS3-G1

Summary

Coopers for your Cooper. The Zeon delivers with advanced design, sharp handling, and durability, all at a great value.

Pros
  • High treadwear rating
  •  Asymmetric tread design
  • Consistent and precise handling
Cons
  • May struggle in colder temps
Best Value

Hankook Ventus V2 Concept2

Summary

The Ventus rings in at just more than $100 per tire in the Mini’s 17-inch size. It features high-tech tread compounds and great fuel efficiency.

Pros
  • Excellent value for a brand name tire
  • Impressive dry road handling
Cons
  • Wet roads are a challenge
  • Wears faster than its 500 treadwear rating would suggest
Honorable Mention

Michelin Pilot Super Sport

Summary

Supercar performance now available for your hatchback, the Pilot Super Sport is original equipment on some Ferraris.

Pros
  • Michelin technology at a remarkably affordable price
  • Handling and grip truly worthy of your Mini Cooper
Cons
  • Sticky compounds mean faster wear
The Mini Cooper Tires You Need for Your Next Italian Job

Our Methodology

One of our core missions at The Drive is to offer comprehensive, detailed, and honest reviews of automotive products and accessories. Of course, we can’t always test every item we recommend directly, but we rely heavily on personal experience where we have it and lean on a wide scope of consumer reviews and industry experts when we don’t. Tires are an especially tricky component to review as every driver has different preferences and encounters different driving environments. 

Compounding this variability is the increasing quality of tires across the board from manufacturers around the world. A tire engineer that I know told me that, among the leading tire brands, it can often be difficult for even the highly informed and experienced driver to tell them apart. Furthermore, discount brands that you might not have given a second thought to five years ago are rapidly catching up in terms of quality and technology. The price point on those tires remains attractively low as well. To those ends, I’ll include a wide swath of rubber in this review to try and capture that diverse world of products.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Tires for Mini Cooper: Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: Cooper
  • Speed Rating: W
  • Treadwear: 500

Pros

  • Relatively high treadwear
  • Enhances grip 
  • Solid value 

Cons

  • Limited foul weather performance

The Cooper brand falls under the Goodyear family of tires. In years past, Cooper sold a solid if unassuming and uninspiring lineup of tires. But it’s a brand with a long history, and more recently their products have featured some impressive technology while retaining good value across the board. Now with Goodyear’s know-how and manufacturing might behind it, Cooper’s presence will definitely continue to grow in the tire aftermarket.

 

The Cooper Zeon RS3-G1 is a great example of Cooper’s ability to combine both performance and excellent value for money in an all-season tire. Among the half dozen sets of tires I mounted on my own Mini Cooper S over the years, the previous generation of this tire was far and away my favorite. Long wearing, the Zeon also managed to perform passably in the snow and wet during Montana’s unpredictable shoulder seasons. What sealed my respect for the Coopers was their capability on track.

 

All-seasons for a track day? You read that right. At one particular track event, I developed a slow leak in one of my race tires. Not wanting to give up an entire track day, I just bolted up my street rubber, which happened to be the Zeons. At a track with extremely heavy braking zones and tread-torturing decreasing radius turns, the Coopers barely broke a sweat. Returning shockingly good feedback and surprising levels of grip, they also showed remarkably little wear after 15 hot laps. The Zeon is no dedicated racing slick, but they salvaged my expensive track time and got me home 250 miles the next day. When they finally wore out, I bought a second set. What better endorsement is there?

Specs

  • Brand: Hankook
  • Speed Rating: V
  • Treadwear: 500

Pros

  • Excellent price point
  • Impressive dry road handling
  • Durable 

Cons

  • Not as competent as OE Hankook Optimo
  • Can struggle for traction

Hankook is the primary original equipment tire supplier for Mini. Nearly all Mini Coopers shipped out of the factory for U.S. shores wear this Korean brand, with good reason. While the Optimo is the main model you’ll find mounted on the Mini’s optional 17-inch wheels, at nearly $200 less per tire, the Hankook Ventus V2 Concept2 is definitely an attractive alternative. Offering impressive grip due to its silica-enhanced tread compound, they complement the Mini’s sporty nature while still delivering respectable fuel economy. Their performance in the wet and in cold weather is limited, but in mostly dry climates, the Ventus is a killer value.

Specs

  • Brand: Michelin
  • Speed Rating: Y
  • Treadwear: 300

Pros

  • Reasonable cost
  • Shockingly high levels of grip
  • Ferrari rubber for your Mini 

Cons

  • Shorter tire life
  • Not a winter tire

 

The Mini Cooper and Cooper S are unapologetically enthusiast automobiles. Highly driver oriented, the Mini’s reputation as one of the best handling front-wheel-drive cars on the market endures year after year. It’s one of the best handling cars out there. Installing a max performance summer tire like the Michelin Pilot Super Sport really taps into that performance potential and can transform the driving experience.

 

Michelin needs no introduction as a brand among enthusiasts. Always at the forefront of technological advances, high-end Michelins are usually priced accordingly. The Pilot Super Sport was even standard equipment on the Ferrari 599 GTO. However, in Mini sizing, they are surprisingly affordable for premium rubber. Be warned, though: A lower treadwear rating means you might be replacing them more often if you are a spirited driver.

Best Original Equipment Tire
Hankook Optimo H426B HRS
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Specs

  • Brand: Hankook
  • Speed Rating: V
  • Treadwear: 400

Pros

  • Run flat technology
  • All weather performance
  • Original equipment tire

Pros

  • Expensive
  • Heavier than standard all-season tires
Best Tire from a Mystery Brand
Riken Raptor ZR A/S
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Specs 

  • Brand: Riken
  • Speed Rating: W
  • Treadwear: 300

Pros

  • Incredible value
  • Wet weather performance

Cons

  • A brand you haven’t heard of
  • Lower treadwear rating

As I mentioned, tires from off brands such as Riken are no longer throw-aways like they may have been in the past. Many of these manufacturers even make tires for the big-name brands in their factories. If our friends at Tire Rack have them in stock, you know that they will have passed rigorous scrutiny for quality, performance, and durability. The big draw is their low price point, and the Raptor ZR A/S really delivers on that measure. With their aggressive delta tread pattern, they are great performers in the wet and should return a lot of bang for the buck.

Specs

  • Brand: Bridgestone
  • Speed Rating: H
  • Treadwear: N/A

Pros

  • Phenomenal cold weather grip
  • Direct fit
  • Improved safety in winter conditions

Cons

  • Might need a second set of wheels
  • Soft compound wears quickly

The front-wheel-drive Mini Cooper is a stalwart even in the worst kinds of weather. Pickings can be slim sometimes in the Mini’s 17-inch wheel size for winter tires, but Bridgestone delivers with the Blizzak LM-60. The latest generation of their venerable studless snow tire, the Blizzak is almost magical in icy conditions. Living in Montana, snow tires were a necessity for my Mini, and I always had a set of these Bridgestones ready to mount up in November. With their proprietary compound that stays pliable even at the coldest temperatures, Blizzaks will turn your Mini into a pretty good replication of a snowmobile.

Specs

  • Brand: Goodyear
  • Speed Rating: Y
  • Treadwear: 100


Pros

  • Race car handling
  • High speed rating
  • Great for competition driving

Cons

  • Will wear quickly
  • High price for a specialized tire

If you’re looking to wring the most out of your Mini Cooper from a handling and braking standpoint, look no further than Goodyear’s Eagle F1 Supercar tire. Lots of folks modify their Minis with uprated suspension and brakes as well as power mods that let the little hatchback punch far above its weight. There’s no point in investing in all those upgrades if your tires can’t keep up. Make no mistake, though: This is serious rubber. It’s so sticky that it’s nearly a race slick. In fact, that may be its best environment. If you’re serious about track days or autocross, invest in a separate set of wheels and some Eagle F1s. Let them try to catch you. 

Our Verdict

A car for all seasons, the Mini Cooper and Cooper S is one of the most fun and practical daily drivers you can buy. It will change its colors quickly simply by swapping tires, and that’s why I like the Cooper Zeon RS3-G1 so much. A jack of all trades, this tire for all seasons offers durability and spirited performance at an attractive price. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

What to Consider When Buying Tires for Mini Cooper

Your typical driving should steer your decision when it comes to choosing tires for your Mini Cooper. The conditions you encounter regularly out there on the road may be highly variable or they may stay consistent, depending on where you live and how you drive. Let’s look at some of the types of tires you can fit to your Mini.

Types 

All-Seasons

All-season tires sometimes get a bad rap. The old knock against them is that they are mostly adequate for most drivers and most roads but master of none. Advances in tire construction and compound technology have really changed that narrative in the last decade, and manufacturers are offering a far more nuanced range of all-season rubber than they traditionally have. There are many shades of the all-season tire now, and based on treadwear rating and handling characteristics, you can find all-seasons that really do meet the needs of your particular climate and driving style. For example, the Hankook Ventus I profiled is a fantastic dry weather tire. If you’re in Arizona, for example, it could be a great buy. Portland, Oregon? You may want to consider the Optimo for its capabilities in the wet. Both tires are all-seasons, but they do different seasons better or worse depending on how they’re built.

Winter

Winter tires are a specialized type of tire that excels in cold and slippery conditions. Manufacturers have moved away from calling them snow tires as they now have a wider range of performance. They’re no longer simply all-season tires with metal studs stuck in them. In fact, most modern winter tires such as the Blizzaks are studless. They rely on chemistry to get you through snowy and icy conditions. Engineered specifically to stay flexible and grippy at extremely low temperatures, winter tires also feature siping (miniature grooves sliced into the tread blocks) to maximize traction when surfaces are at their slipperiest. If you live in the Snow Belt, you owe it to yourself to invest in a set of winter tires. Not only do you get safer and more confident driving, you save wear on your fair-weather rubber. Maybe you can even spring for those Goodyear F1s for when the sun is shining and the twisties are dry. Your Mini will thank you.

Performance

Speaking of the twisties, one of the wonderful things about the Mini Cooper is that it’s a sports car in disguise. Presenting as a practical and efficient commuter, it’s also extremely entertaining to drive when the road warrants it. The best upgrade you can install on your Mini is a set of high-performance tires. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport is a great example of an aftermarket tire that can transform your Mini’s identity from daily transport to track star straight out of the box. The drawbacks come in the form of limited cold-weather performance and faster wear rates. But, if you really want to fly your enthusiast flag, tacky tires are the way to go.

Key Features

Tread Wear

I’ve talked a lot about tread wear in this review, but what does that mean? Every tire is assigned a tread-wear rating through the Uniform Tire Quality Grade system (UTQG). Depending on the rubber compound, tread design, and other factors, every tire will wear differently. On the UTQG scale, which runs from 100 to 1000, the higher the number the longer you can expect your tires to last. Tires with an exceptionally high tread-wear rating will be durable, but that durability means sacrificing grip and cold weather capabilities as the compounds will be harder. On the flip side, a lower tread-wear rating will indicate a tire designed for maximum dry road performance but come at the cost of a shorter life span.

Sidewalls and Aspect Ratio

From the factory, Mini’s came with a wide variety of wheels in sizes from 15 inches up to 18 inches on some performance packages. Considering the aspect ratio of your tires across that swath of wheel sizes is important. What is aspect ratio? Let’s take the 2022 Mini Cooper’s optional 205/45R-17 tire as an example. In this size, the 45 means that the tire height is equal to 45 percent of the tire's width. The larger the aspect ratio, the taller the sidewall will be.

Smaller diameter rims will generally fit a tire with a taller sidewall. More sidewall offers a quieter and more comfortable ride and will absorb rough road conditions more effectively. If you regularly drive off pavement or in urban environments with potholed and broken asphalt, a meatier tire may save you the costs of damaged tires and wheels. As wheel sizes increase, sidewalls get shorter and stiffer. That extra rigidity translates into better handling performance. In all cases the overall diameter of your wheel and tire package should remain the same to maintain proper handling and steering performance.

Run-Flat Technology

Hate waiting around for assistance? Mini installs run-flat tires on several of its models as standard equipment. Engineered with exceptionally strong sidewalls, many run-flat tires can drive up to 50 miles at 50 mph with zero air pressure. This is a neat trick for a small car like the Mini, where packaging a full-size spare wheel is a challenge. Run-flat tires do come with some compromises, though, including more weight, a relatively harsher ride, and often an eye-watering price for only average handling and traction performance.

Pricing 

In this review, we’ve seen a fairly wide range of pricing, from nearly $300 per tire for the direct OE replacement run-flat Hankook Optimos, to less than $100 for the bargain Rikens. Does that spread really translate into that much of a difference in performance? With all the variation in tire construction and applications, it can feel like comparing apples to oranges. The best advice when it comes to your tire budget is to buy the highest quality tire you can afford that best fits the type of driving you do most.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Can I buy Mini Cooper tires online?

A: I love going to the tire shop. I love the rattle and hiss of the air guns and the smell of all that fresh rubber. But web-based tire outlets like Tire Rack, Walmart, and even Amazon have made it easy to shop for the exact tires your Mini needs and to compare prices, specs, and reviews. Order online, and the tires will ship to you or directly to a local installer of your choice. It’s as easy as that.

Q: Why do I need winter tires for my Mini?

A: If you regularly drive in snow, ice, and temperatures below freezing, it’s worth considering a set of dedicated winter tires. Designed with rubber compounds that remain grippy in freezing temperatures, they not only offer superior braking and traction in the slippery stuff, they also handle on cold pavement better than standard all-seasons. The Mini shines as a winter car on the right tires, and you save wear and tear on your summer rubber by storing them for half the year.

Q: How do I know what size tires I need?

A: I trust the engineers. When Mini decides on tire sizes for their cars, they take into consideration all the multiple variables that make the Cooper and Cooper S work so well as fun driver’s cars. The suspension, the brakes, fuel efficiency goals, and even the engine’s power curve all help determine what size tire goes best with your Mini. Tire Rack’s wheel and tire calculator is built on a huge database of exact OE specifications. Just plug the year and model of your Mini into the calculator and you’ll be off to the races.

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