MINI 3-Door Hatch (2014-2017) Review

The Mini 3-door is fun to drive, stylish and highly personalisable – but it’s not the cheapest or the most practical small car

8/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Fun to drive
  • Excellent infotainment
  • Great looking interior

What's not so good

  • Small boot
  • Tight rear-seat access
  • Noisy cabin

MINI 3-Door Hatch (2014-2017): what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

Buying a Mini hatchback says you’re someone who doesn’t mind sacrificing a little practicality, or paying a premium, for style.

It’s fun to drive and has a retro interior, but the boot is small and tall adults will want to avoid the tight back seats. You can have the car as a five-door or a funky convertible, but the model tested here is the popular three-door hatchback.

As you can guess from the name, the Mini does not sport a hugely spacious interior. Room up front should be fine even for tall people, but adults squeezing into the back seat will need to be flexible. Once in, things aren’t so bad – the big windows let in lots of light and average-sized passengers will get just about enough head and knee room to be comfortable.

The Mini’s 211-litre boot is tiny – even the small VW Up city car has 251 litres. But the Mini’s boot is cleverly designed with an adjustable floor, no load lip and a completely flat floor when the rear seats are folded away – so even heavy shopping bags should be easy to load.

You get retro interior looks thanks to sporty circular air vents, a huge chrome-bezeled housing for the infotainment, airplane-style toggle switches and pod-like dials that sprout from behind the steering wheel. The result is that the Mini makes you feel special in a way no other small car does.

It’s worth upgrading to the optional infotainment system that has a colourful 8.8-inch screen, 3D mapping and a 20GB hard drive. But, be warned, Mini options are expensive – it comes as part of an £1,800 pack.

Thankfully the Mini’s sporty driving experience doesn’t cost you extra. Even basic One models love to be chucked around corners and have plenty of grip, but the payoff is firm suspension that highlights bumps and a relatively noisy cabin that’ll grate on long drives.

Above all else, the Mini is about making a fashion statement

Mat Watson
carwow expert

In terms of engines, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol fitted to the Cooper model is the one to go for. It sounds good, is reasonably quick and cheap to run – it’s a perfect match for the Mini’s cheeky character.

The Mini scored four stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, but you can boost safety substantially by adding automatic emergency braking as part of the £440 Driving Assistant Pack.

The trendy Mini 3-door is great to drive and smart looking, if not the most spacious nor the most comfortable of small hatchbacks. Still, if style is your thing – it’s a label that’s very much in fashion. See how it compares to the chic DS 3 and classy Audi A1 in our video group test, and read our following interior, driving and specifications sections for more detail and analysis of the Mini.

What's it like inside?

The Mini has one of the smartest looking interiors in the car world – it’s retro looking but easy to use and well built. Space is at a premium, though

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Fun to drive and cheap to run, but comfort takes a back seat

The Mini is a lively little machine in corners, but over long distances its bouncy suspension and noisy cabin can wear you out

BMW has always traded on the fact that the new Mini is a spirited little thing to drive, just like the original car from the swinging ‘60s

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Buy a Mini and you can choose from five petrol engines and three diesels.

Pick of the lot is the 136hp 1.5-litre petrol three-cylinder fitted to the Mini Cooper. It always feels quick, sounds sporty and costs buttons to run – Mini quotes fuel economy of 60.1mpg but 50mpg should be possible in normal driving. It’s the definition of a great all-rounder.

The 2.0-litre Cooper S, Cooper S Works and John Cooper Works get incrementally faster – the latter gets from 0-62mph in just 6.3 seconds – but their big, heavy engines make them feel less nimble and they cost more to run. So, unless speed really matters, there’s little to be gained from choosing them.

The Cooper D diesel is worth considering if you have a high annual mileage – officially it’ll return 80.7mpg and it sits between between the slower One D and faster SD in terms of performance. It feels pretty nippy to drive, but is noisier than the Cooper petrol.

The Mini delivers its fun factor the minute you start it – via a toggle switch that looks like the missile-launch button in a jet fighter. Explosive performance isn’t on the cards but the Mini is a lively little thing to drive – it loves to be chucked around bends and grips corners with the enthusiasm of a puppy latching onto its chew toy. It really is a fun car to drive.

The downside is suspension that highlights bumps – it can feel like you’re strapped to a golf ball bouncing down the road. Variable damper control costs £375 and allows you to choose from soft and firmer suspension settings but, even at its most comfortable, the Mini will feel less comfy than other cars in this class.

You’ll also find the Mini to be quite a noisy little thing at a cruise. Tyre roar seems to echo around the square-shaped cabin and there’s also quite a lot of wind whistle from the pillar that runs up the side of the windscreen.

It’s easy to drive, though. The windscreen seems quite far away but you’ll have no problem judging the corners of the car. Getting the Mini parked should be pretty pain free but you can make the job even easier by adding rear parking sensors for £260.

If you do a lot of town driving, the £1,270 six-speed automatic gearbox will save your left leg from getting tired using the clutch. It changes gear smoothly and quickly but the six-speed manual is decent too – it’s light, precise and suits the Mini’s involving driving experience.

The Mini scored four stars for safety when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP back in 2014, so it won’t be as resilient to a bump as the five-star Nissan Micra that was tested under 2017’s tougher test conditions.

An easy way to boost the Mini’s safety is to go for the £440 driving assistance pack. It’s good value – it includes high-beam assist, so the headlights dip automatically when they sense a car in front and a traffic sign recognition system that flashes up signs, such as speed limits, on the infotainment screen. You really want the pack for the automatic emergency braking, though, which can stop a collision by applying the brakes at speeds of 6-37mph.

Read about prices & specifications
MINI 3-Door Hatch (2014-2017)
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