MINI 5-Door Hatch Review
The Mini 5-Door is an upmarket small car that’s fun to drive, has great retro styling and easy-to-use tech. But it’s not the most practical, however, nor the most comfortable
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What is Cool Britannia? Carnaby Street in the 1960s, Britpop in the ‘90s, the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in the last decade? If you were to capture Cool Britannia in a small car, it would look like the Mini.
From the bug-eyed headlights at the front reminiscent of the original Mini of the 1960s to the Union Jacks in the rear headlights, the Mini isn’t shy of showing off its British-built credentials as a posh, retro-looking alternative to small German cars like the Audi A1 or Volkswagen Polo. You can get the Mini hatch as a five-door or a more sporty-looking three-door reviewed separately.
But, you say… the Mini isn’t British – it’s just as German as the A1 or Polo. True, Mini is owned by BMW, but that means Mini gets access to BMW’s technology and resources. And anyway, the Queen has German ancestors and you can’t be more British than her!
The Mini isn’t just a looker on the outside, its interior is packed with charm, too. Take the infotainment system, for example. Not only is it a doddle to use, but it sits within a massive mood-lit porthole on the dashboard – a bit like a Sixties jukebox.
Add to this the funky rev-counter that sticks out of the steering column like a cartoon character’s oversized ears, and you get a much more interesting cabin than in an Audi A1 Sportback. It’s a shame, though, that you don’t get even the option of Android Auto.
You shouldn’t have any trouble getting comfy regardless of how tall or short you are. But wherever you like to position your seat, there’s no getting around the Mini’s rather narrow windscreen. Sure, this letterbox view makes it feel sportier to sit in than a VW Polo, but the result is that the Mini’s cabin can feel a little claustrophobic – especially if you pick a car with lots of black interior trim.
Great fun to drive and a funky design are a winning combo in the Mini – if you're prepared to sacrifice a bit of practicality for its cools looks
Things are more cramped still in the back than in either a VW Polo or an Audi A1. Tall passengers especially will struggle a bit for headroom and the Mini’s cabin isn’t wide enough to comfortably carry three in the back at once.
The Mini 5-door’s boot is bigger than you get in the three-door car, but at 278 litres it’s still way down on the boot in a Peugeot 208, which looks just as cool.
Thankfully the extra practicality doesn’t make the Mini 5-Door any less fun to drive than the 3-door version – it feels nimble, and the sporty suspension gives you extra confidence when you’re on a twisty road. A Volkswagen Polo is more comfortable though.
The Mini comes with a choice of three petrol engines – the best all-rounder is the 136hp 1.5-litre Mini Cooper, which has a good blend of economy and performance. There are no diesel engines, though, so if that’s important to you, a Peugeot 208 might be a better option.
Whichever you pick, you can rest assured knowing you’re covered by Mini’s latest safety systems – meaning that the 5-Door is a good family car, so long as your family takes a minimalist approach to how much stuff they need to take with them.
So with the Mini 5-door you get an appealing blend of retro styling and bang up to date tech, but where practicality is sacrificed a bit for stand-out design. If that sounds as cool as an Oasis reunion to you take a look at the latest Mini deals.
Your passenger in the front should be comfortable enough, but those in the back probably won’t and don’t expect to fit much into the boot either.
OK, so there’s a bit more space in the back of this Mini than the standard three-door model but this doesn’t magically make it a massive car
Despite the Mini’s compact space, those up front will have no trouble getting comfy regardless of how tall or short they are. The headroom is really good for such a small car and the seats slide a long way back on the runners. The driver’s seat will go up and down in all models and the wheel adjusts in and out and up and down so it should be easy to get settled.
Wherever you like to position your seat, there’s no getting around the Mini’s rather narrow windscreen. Sure, this letterbox view makes it feel sportier to sit in than a VW Polo, but the result is that the Mini’s cabin can feel a little claustrophobic – especially if you pick a car with lots of black interior trim.
The Mini 5-door is 16cm longer than the standard 3-door, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Sure, some of this extra length has gone into making the back sits a bit more bearable for adults, but things are still more cramped back there than in either a VW Polo or an Audi A1 Sportback. Tall passengers especially will struggle a bit for headroom and the Mini’s cabin isn’t wide enough to comfortably carry three in the back at once.
The Mini’s rear doors are smaller than in the VW and Audi, which means you’ll have a bit more trouble lifting in a bulky child seat or bending down to strap in a child. At least the Isofix anchor points are clearly marked and easy to locate, however.
Another slight mark against the Mini is its cool-looking chrome door handles. They take a bit of getting used to because they rotated inwards on metal levers as you pull them rather than just pivoting at the base.
The Mini has storage areas in all the usual places but, well – they’re pretty mini. The space under the front centre armrest is particularly small, and the door bins and glovebox are also smaller than in other small hatchbacks. You do get a couple of cupholders in the Mini’s centre console, though, as well as a tray for your phone, complete with a USB plug to wire it up to the car’s stereo.
The Mini’s lozenge-shaped armrest doesn’t double-up as a handy cubby hole like in most small cars, though. And, it can get in the way of the handbrake if you slide it all the way forward.
The extra length of the 5-Door Mini also brings a bit of a boost to boot space, with 67 more litres available over the smaller three-door model. This represents around a 30% increase though, which gives you a hint that the boot wasn’t that big in the first place – 30% of not much is still not a big boot. You might be able to squeeze a smaller stroller in but bigger buggies or large sets of golf clubs.
That said, there are ways to make it a bit more practical, with an optional storage pack offering things like lashing hooks and a fastening strap. It also adds LED lights and a 12v socket so you can plug in a car-vacuum and see what you are doing while you give the boot a good spruce up. The best bit is an adjustable floor, which totally flattens out the boot lip. This makes it easier to load heavy items and flattens out the floor when you drop the seats down.
This pack is only available as part of the Comfort Pack or the Comfort Plus Pack, which brings a load more equipment and is quite a pricey way to add a bit of boot practicality if that’s all you want.
You’ll have great fun driving the Mini, but if you really need a diesel car you’ll have to look elsewhere
The Mini 5-door hatch is so much fun to drive, but the sporty suspension does mean the bumpy ride can get a bit tiring at times.
There are just three engines to choose from in the Mini 5-Door and all three are petrol models with diesel no longer offered.
The 102hp 1.5-litre One is the entry-level model and this is the version that is the best bet if you’re spending most of your time around town. The official fuel economy is up to 48.7mpg and, as the 0-60mph time is almost 11 seconds, you won’t be tempted to floor the accelerator on a regular basis, meaning that you stand more of a chance of achieving that.
The more powerful 136hp 1.5-litre engine in the Cooper is the sweet spot in the Mini range, as it feels and sounds sporty but still costs little to run. Officially the fuel economy is only around 1mpg worse than the One, but that requires you not to make the most of the Mini’s entertaining nature and 8.3 seconds 0-60mph time.
It’s not just great in town, it’s surprisingly quiet on a motorway cruise. Sure, it’s not the most economical engine for long journeys, but it doesn’t produce an annoying high-speed drone like most petrol-powered small cars.
The top of the range model is the Cooper S, which is a bigger 2.0-litre engine that produces 192hp and gets to 60mph in an entertaining 6.8 seconds. The sounds more amusing too, producing a series of pops and bangs when you lift off the throttle.
Every model comes with a decent six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed double-clutch semi-automatic transmission. The latter adds a fair bit to the price but is nice and smooth, with the welcome habit of choosing the right gear at the right time and changing down a gear or two quickly when you ask for extra acceleration. And, as if that wasn’t enough, it also allows every engine to run more economically than with the manual version.
Even starting up the Mini 5-Door is entertaining as you fire up the engine using a red toggle switch in the centre console that looks like the missile-launch button in a jet fighter.
Once you get going the Mini is a lively little thing to drive: you’ll have great fun chucking it around bends and it grips the road with all the enthusiasm of a puppy gnawing away at its favourite chew toy. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face.
The downside is that sporty suspension is also firm suspension and the Mini lets you feel all the bumps in the road, even ones you can’t see. Even with the optional variable damper control and the 5-Door in its comfiest setting the Mini feels less comfy than other cars of a similar size.
There is also a fair bit of noise at motorway speeds in the form of tyre roar and wind whistle from the pillar between the windscreen and the front window.
On the other hand, you’ll certainly find it an easy car to drive – not least because of its relatively small size. Although the windscreen seems quite a long way in front of you, you’ll have no problem judging where the corners of the car are, so it won’t be a pain to park the Mini. However, you can make the job even easier by adding rear parking sensors separately, or as part of the Pepper or Chilli packs.
Ok, so space is not exactly in abundance in the Mini, even with those rear doors, but it is a smart and stylish place to be