Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Quirky-looking interior
  • Good build quality throughout
  • Excellent low-slung driving position

The MINI’s interior might appear fairly similar to previous models upon first inspection – but look closer, and poke and prod the materials, and you’ll appreciate just how much it’s advanced over the years.

Not only is there a high standard of fit and finish, and good-quality materials, but the ergonomics are improved as well. The window switches have moved from the lower console toggles up to the doors themselves, for instance, which makes a huge difference when you quickly want to operate them. The toggles haven’t disappeared, though, and still house the switches for the traction control system, automatic stop-start and delightfully retro starter button, finished in a deep red hue that pulses with light when you get into the car.

What’s missing is the central speedometer. Purists might lament its demise but let’s not forget that the original Mini started having its central speedometer phased out in 1969. Now, it sits in a little pod behind the steering wheel and is much easier to read as a result. It’s flanked by a semi-circular rev counter on the left, and a fuel gauge on the right, so a quick glance can tell you all you need to know.

There is still a prominent circular centre section in the dash, highlighted by by a multi-coloured LED ring, within which you'll find the infotainment system. A 6.5-inch screen is standard nowadays, and a larger 8.8-inch display with sat-nav is offered as an option.

You can also specify sat-nav for the smaller screen; the base-model screen, in any case, is far better than the old four-line display that was found in previous entry-level MINIs. Each is controlled by a different variant of MINI’s interpretation of BMW’s iDrive rotary controller, which is intuitive but feels positioned too low behind the gear lever for easy access.

That LED frame glows different colours depending on various functions or selected programmes, too. For example, when parking sensors are fitted the ring changes from green, to amber, to red depending on your proximity to an obstacle. Alter the temperature of the climate control and the ring changes from blue to red depending on whether it’s getting cooler or warmer. Or, if you prefer, it can scroll through various colours along with the rest of the car’s ambient lights.

Is it comfortable?

  • Firm yet compliant ride quality
  • Seats are comfortable and supportive
  • Great on both short and long journeys

It may sound surprising for a small car with a sporty focus but the MINI is actually a remarkably comfortable car to drive and be in. The interior is larger than before, thanks to the expanded exterior dimensions, but only those in the front will notice any real difference.

The seats are also larger, lower and more comfortable – even the Cooper S’ sports seats don't cause aches after a long journey. There's a great range of adjustment on offer as well, while the seats slide and tilt with ease to allow better access to the back. If you’re prepared to spend extra (as many MINI customers do), they can be heated and trimmed in leather.

Climb into the back of the three-door model and you’ll see the previous MINI’s weakness has barely been addressed; it’s really only comfortable for children and adults who happen to be contortionists. That's partly due to rear headroom being marginally reduced due to the tapering roofline. There’s a bit more space in the five-door model, though, due to its longer wheelbase. In the three-door model the rear seat is shaped for two only with a raised bolster in the middle of the seat base and no middle seatbelt but the five-door is technically a five-seater, albeit a slightly cramped one.

Mood lighting is a feature carried over from the previous model and it is complemented by the multi-coloured LED ring around the central instrument display. Its colour varies depending on a number of functions, but it can – for example – pulsate in relation to the beat of the music being played. It matches up with ambient lighting around the rest of the car, too, which illuminates the door bins, door handles and front part of the cabin.

The quietness of the MINI's cabin, coupled with the car's revised suspension, makes it a comfortable companion on longer drives. Forget the bounciness of previous MINIs; the Hatch feels planted and compliant when you need it to be. In conjunction with the noticeable increase in build quality, overall refinement is impressive, which makes the MINI a pleasant place in which to travel.

With a raft of driving aids, the stress of short and long trips alike is also minimised – just tick the right option boxes to specify yours with adaptive cruise control and an automatic parallel parking system.