The Mini 3-door is a small car that looks cool inside and out, and is a hoot to drive – but it’s not very comfy and options are expensive
The Mini three-door Hatchback is a smart-looking small car that’s brilliant to drive and sure to put a smile on your face – and you should certainly consider one if you can live with the small boot and awkward rear seats.
This generation of the Mini three-door originally went on sale in 2014, but it was updated in 2018 with new headlights, Union Jack tail lights and the option to have custom 3D-printed trims fitted in various places.
It also introduced a brand new ‘Mini’ logo, as well as some new engines and gearboxes to choose from, but otherwise, it’s all business as usual. That means you get a well-made interior that oozes retro charm, but can also be fitted with plenty of modern touches such as a circle of lights around the central infotainment screen that changes colour. This is part of the Mini Excitement Pack (included in the Pepper and Chilli option packs), alongside adjustable mood lighting, and you can think of it as a lava lamp that matches its colour to whatever menu you’re in. To be honest, it’s pretty pointless, but it’s very cool nevertheless.
Far more useful is the Mini’s excellent infotainment system, which is controlled through a 6.5-inch screen by a BMW-style knob and shortcut buttons on the centre console that help you use it safely while driving. If you want satellite navigation, you’ll have to pay for it as a pricey option, although that does include Apple CarPlay and various ‘Mini Connected’ services, such as Real Time Traffic Information.
Then again, if you are tempted to do that, you might be better off stumping up even more to upgrade to the top-spec Navigation Plus Pack, which (alongside a host of other extras) includes an 8.8-inch screen, which is sharper, faster and has 3D maps.
Less high-tech is the access to the Mini’s rear seats: anyone wanting to sit back there will need to be a champion gymnast to work their way through all the necessary contortions. Admittedly, once you’re safely in place, there is enough room for a couple of adults, but you should consider the Mini five-door if you’ll need to use the back seats regularly. To make matters worse, the Mini three-door’s boot space is absolutely tiny – it’s even smaller than a tiny VW Up’s load space!
The updated Mini’s Union Jack tail lights look like a throwback to Britpop – they’re an oasis of cool among boring-looking alternatives
Okay, so the Mini’s not that practical, but where it truly excels is in how it drives. It darts into corners with really direct steering, and very little body lean. The downside of the latter is that the firm suspension highlights bumps in the roads, which gets tiring if you do lots of town driving on potholed roads. At motorway speeds you also get more tyre noise in the cabin than in an Audi A1.
Wherever you drive, the Mini’s best engine is a 1.5-litre petrol engine that you can get in Cooper models. It sounds sporty, accelerates well and is cheap to run. You get a 2.0-litre petrol in faster Cooper S models, but while you’ll enjoy its performance you’ll not enjoy its higher running costs.
Whichever engine you pick, the Mini’s a safe car, and an optional safety pack adds automatic emergency braking to keep you and your pride and joy safe.
And you’ll want to, because few other small cars make you feel as good about owning them as a Mini does. And so long as you can put up with its small boot and relatively firm suspension then it’s a fantastic, charming and fun small car.
If you want more in-depth information on the Mini, look through the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, if you want to see what kind of saving you can expect on a Mini, click through to our deals page.