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