This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest MINI Hatchback review.

4.5 out of 5 4.5
Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

A proper go-kart experience, and great value used these days

MINI Hatchback (06-13) - rated 4.5 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £11,160 - £22,615
Used price £1,095 - £8,730
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Road tax cost £0 - £210
Insurance group 8 - 19 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Great fun to drive
  • Funky image
  • Unique interior
  • Economical engines

CONS

  • Tiny boot
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Miserly standard kit

MINI Hatchback rivals

Citroën
DS3
4 out of 5 4.0

Written by Mike Humble on

If you're looking to buy a second-generation MINI Hatch (2006-2014), it's worth getting familiar with its common problems so that you can avoid being caught out by them. Read on to get the full expert view on these classy and well-made family cars.

MINI Hatch (R56) known faults and common problems

The second-generation MINI Hatch, known internally as the R56, followed the footsteps of the previous all-new model, which ended up having an unusually-short five-year production run. Although the 2006 car looked and felt very similar, it was a major engineering revolution.

The Mk2 MINI lost none of its popularity or charm it this guise, and saw a stylish Convertible model introduced for 2009 galvanising its broad appeal even further. With option packs galore, a used MINI offers a monumental choice for the used car buyer. Despite the Bavarian parentage, MINI doesn’t come without a handful of common issues and foibles. That said, a huge choice on offer means there’s plenty of good ones around.

Top 10 problems

Buying guide – common issues, and what to look for if you're looking at getting one:

1 – Whistle on tickover

If you detect a faint whistle noise like an old hob kettle boiling on tickover with the engine and gearbox warmed-up – beware. If it vanishes with a blip of the throttle be cautious as this normally is a sign of a worn water pump. Don’t let a trade vendor fob you off with an excuse – they know this issue very well.

2 – Weak fuel pump (petrol engines)

If a petrol-engined car seems to hold back then fly away like a bird on the test drive, chances are the fuel pump is faulty and is just about to die on you. Not too pricey to cure, but it’s another hard bargaining point when closing a deal privately.

3 – Warm starting

On the Cooper make sure the engine starts up on the button when the engine is hot. Issues with the coolant sensor or thermostat can throw up an ECU warning light and cause a fuelling issue. This can only be cured by the fiddly time consuming replacement of a complete thermostat housing that includes the coolant sensor and thermostat.

4 – Cable calamities

Check all the interior door pulls work without excessive effort. Also, make sure the bonnet pops open without a Herculean tug of war effort on the lever. Stretching cables have known to be a problem with a number of vehicles though quality improvements at the factory eventually cured this.

5 – Clutch and gearbox

Cars with a hard life can suffer from high biting or juddering clutches and/or gearbox noise. Listen for a rattling from the clutch area and for any humming or rumbling when turning on hard lock at lower speeds. Also, check the gearbox fluid has been changed at the required intervals.

MINI (R56) buying guide

6 – Power steering pumps

Lumpy, stiff or noisy electric power steering pumps have dogged the MINI for many years. One of the many MINI specialists can supply and replace an uprated component for a fraction of a main dealer price. A great bargaining tool.

7 – Uneven tyre wear

More of an issue with larger 17-inch wheeled cars is severe wear patterns on the edge of the front tyre treads. The firm ride can wreak havoc thanks to our broken urban roads with a knock on effect being worn suspension components and/or its tracking knocked out of kilter.

8 – Timing chains

On petrol engines be wary of the seller offering you pre-warmed engine when you come to view. Neglected cars can use a fair bit of engine oil and if run low can wear out the chains and guides. Listen for rattles on initial cold starting – if evident walk away as this is big, messy and expensive.

9 – Turbo trouble

Cooper models are often known for high oil consumption that can cause rapid turbocharger death. Check for smoking by revving the engine hard when warmed up and for the faint whiff of burning oil from the tailpipe. In severe cases, the turbo can literally self-destruct or even explode. Very expensive.

10 – Rear brakes sticking

Look closely at the condition of the rear brake discs. Check for a blue tinge to the friction area or deep scoring. Cars that haven’t had the best servicing can suffer from the rear brake callipers seizing up completely or cause excessive brake binding.

Model timeline

2006 – New generation (R56 MINI) commences
2007 – Diesel MINI introduced
2009 – Eco-themed MINI First and new Convertible introduced
2011 – Cooper SD launched with 2.0-litre diesel engine
2012 – 218bhp John Cooper Works GP limited edition – 2,000 units built

Main Dealer UK Coverage

• Good

Best Places to Buy

• MINI Specialists
• Used car supermarkets

DVSA Recalls

Check vehicle recalls online

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Alfa Romeo Mito
The pint-sized Alfa brought a new customer base to the legendary brand. Maybe only a Punto underneath, but it has the stylish looks that still turn heads today. Sadly, the legendary Alfa Romeo quality still causes concern with inconsistent dealers and a disappointing interior build quality. However, the sporty Cloverleaf with 170hp on tap is rather good fun to steer though.

Suzuki Swift
Hardly in the same kudos league as a MINI, but these fun to drive and well-equipped cars have an ace card up their sleeve – incredible value for money. Owners love the reliability and reputable dealers, plus it’s not a bad looker too. Doesn’t have the broad range of model options on offer as the MINI but worth a very close look nonetheless… honestly!

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Further reading

MINI owners' reviews
MINI full review

MINI prices and valuation
Search for MINI cars for sale

MINI (R56) buying guide

MINI Hatchback rivals

Citroën
DS3
4 out of 5 4.0