Iconic hatchback is rewarding to drive and own
- Great fun to drive
- Quality interior
- Efficient, punchy engines
- Lots of character
- Expensive to buy
- Expensive options
- Cramped rear seats
- Firm ride on some models
Since it was launched in 2001, BMW’s interpretation of the original Mini has been an overwhelmingly successful car, blending retro looks with upmarket appeal and a fun image. It’s all led to creating the MINI Hatchback you can buy today.
The latest model comes with even more premium features thanks to various parts nicked from BMW, but it has retained its sense of character to compete with premium rivals like the Audi A1, Alfa Romeo MiTo, DS 3 and equally-quirky Fiat 500, but also regular superminis like the VW Polo, SEAT Ibiza and Mazda 2.
Larger but still MINI
Bigger in every external direction than the car it replaced, the new three-door Hatch has spawned a wide variety of models, including a more practical five-door version and the MINI Convertible.
At 3,821mm long, it’s 98mm longer (the Cooper S is 3,850mm long), 44mm wider and 7mm taller than the old car. Overall interior space is more generous than before, but don’t go thinking you’ll be fitting tall adults in the back (unless the kids are driving).
Despite the increased size, it’s still recognisably MINI with a familiar shape to the grille, headlights, ‘floating roof’ and rear lights – although those are much wider than previous incarnations.
If anything it looks sportier in profile; the roofline tapers more aggressively towards the rear, but altogether it looks fresh and modern.
Inside, MINI has created an interior that’s interesting to look at with plenty of design cues that hark back to the original car, but also housing a huge amount of modern technology that you’d expect to see in much bigger, more expensive cars thanks to its parent company BMW.
The central instrument binnacle no longer contains the speedometer but instead the infotainment system’s details with the speedo located behind the steering wheel next to the rev counter. A variety of screen sizes are available depending on the spec of the car, running a more fun-looking version of BMW’s slick iDrive infotainment system.
The central display is surrounded by an LED ring, which illuminates differently depending on your preferences. It can act as a fuel gauge, it changes based on how close you are to something when parking, or you can let it do its own thing and scroll between a variety of vivid colours.
Five-door version available
For the first time, a five-door (four doors and a hatchback tailgate) version of the MINI Hatchback has been made available. Previously the MINI Hatch was three-door only. You get the same choice of engines and equipment grades whether you pick a three- or five-door car, giving buyers a bit more choice if they need a drop of extra practicality.
Efficient, turbocharged engines
Three tiers of MINIness are available – One, Cooper and Cooper S, available with a range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, the latter identified with a ‘D’ suffix.
The petrol MINI One is powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with 102hp, while the diesel version is a 1.5-litre diesel with 95hp.
Move to the Cooper and Cooper D versions, which MINI says account for the majority of sales, and the three-cylinder motors are of 1.5-litre capacity. The Cooper produces 136hp, the Cooper D 116hp.
Topping the range is the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol Cooper S offering significantly greater performance with 192hp, giving a sprint to 62mph time of 6.8 seconds. There’s also a MINI Cooper S Works 210 which, as you may have guessed, ups power to 210hp.
Opting for the Cooper SD gets you a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine producing 170hp and a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds.
An automatic transmission is available on all but the One D and all MINI Hatches come with a six-speed manual transmission as standard.
MINI John Cooper Works
Taking the regular MINI Cooper S one step further is the MINI John Cooper Works (JCW). It pushes out 231hp and is capable of sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds, and is differentiated from other MINI models with several red exterior accents and model-specific trimmings inside for the seats and decorative elements.
Facelift for 2018
January 2018 saw the arrival of a subtle facelift for the MINI. The engine range was tweaked with the One’s 1.2-litre dropped in favour of a larger 1.5-litre turbo producing 103hp. A new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission replaced the old eight-speed unit.
Although the overall shape and style remained unchanged, it received changes to the interior, as well as revised front and rear lights. All cars came equipped with LED headlights as standard with the option to step up to dazzle-free Matrix LED ones. The rear lights were updated to a twee Union Jack design, which were designed to divide opinions.
Other highlights of the 2018 MINIs include the Yours Customised scheme, which allow the owner to buy personalised 3D-printed inserts for the dashboard. Apple CarPlay and a concierge service were added as as options.
The Parkers Verdict
The MINI hatch oozes character, with an instantly recognisable look and shape. It’s also great fun to drive, has a tech-heavy, quality interior and comes with a strong selection of engines, so all types of buyer is catered for. The availability of a five-door model boosts practicality somewhat, although it’s still a dinky supermini.
Read on for the full Parkers MINI Hatchback review.
What owners say about this car
I like the whole driving experience including its responsiveness, steering, quality, driving position and refinement. There is nothing I dislike. Read owner review
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