MINI Hatchback

Retro-look supermini offers style, fun and frugal engines

8.5
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 11 reviews
  • New three-cylinder engines
  • Fun to drive
  • Frugal
  • Styling an acquired taste
  • Ride can be firm
  • Options cost lots
 

£14,075 - £31,315 Price range

 

4 Seats

 

42 - 83 MPG

Review

The Mini Hatchback is a small city car that is great to drive and surprisingly cheap to run. Its closest rivals are fashionable superminis such as the Citroen DS3, the Audi A1 and Fiat 500.

The Mini’s sculptured interior is very well built, but also has some fun touches such as the toggle-switch start and sporty circular air vents. The central infotainment display replaces the huge speedometer in the old model and has edges that change colour depending on the car’s settings – transforming it (with a little imagination) from an inanimate object to a living thing.

There’s no shortage of character to the way it drives. Its steering is heavy and precise, while the ride is hard enough for fun driving, but not so hard that it feels uncomfortable. The car features a sophisticated rear suspension system that helps it feel pinned to the road in a way that rivals struggle to match.

Many see the petrol Cooper as the model to go for, because it’s pretty quick but also cheap to run. The diesels are even better on fuel, while the Cooper S and Cooper S Works models have the performance to match the car’s highly accomplished chassis.

A brilliant little car the Mini may be, but it’s not cheap. However, some of the financial pain is relieved by a standard equipment list that includes DAB (digital) radio, alloy wheels, air con and a Bluetooth phone connection.

Pick your ideal paint finish combination using our Mini Hatchback colours guide or find out how the upcoming Mini Saloon could look by reading our dedicated guide

From behind the wheel the Mini feels like a high-quality product – even better built than the teutonic Audi A1 – thanks to metal trim pieces and lots of soft-touch plastics. It’s also a good deal more fun than the Audi, with sporty toggle switches, circular dials and jazzy mood lighting.

The dinner-plate sized speedometer has disappeared, making way for the Mini’s infotainment system. It’s controlled via a spinoff of BMW’s iDrive system, which makes it easy to operate on the move without taking your eyes off the road. Sat nav, with a 20GB hard drive for your music, comes as part of the £1,800 Media Pack.

Mini Hatchback passenger space

The new Mini is larger than the previous version, and its added head, shoulder and legroom are most welcome in the back. It’s still not a car for tall rear seat passengers, but the large windows and indents in the backs of the front seats make it more tolerable than you might imagine. The front seats are also very supportive and thanks to the range of adjustments anyone can find a comfortable seating position.

Mini Hatchback boot space

The boot isn’t that big at 211 litres (the smaller Skoda Citigo has a 252-litre capacity), but it is well thought out, so the back seats fold completely flat into the floor and the adjustable floor means you don’t have to put up with a load lip.

The Mini Hatchback retains the nimble feel of the 1960s original, but adds a generous layer of sophistication. The sports car-like driving position and the heavy, but accurate steering are the main culprits behind that “go-kart” feel that makes the Mini so desirable for enthusiasts tied to buying a practical car. Plenty of steering feedback and an advanced stability control system mean even the basic model corners with glee.

The rear suspension is advanced for the class, helping the hatchback hold the road better than rivals, while the ride is nicely judged – neither too firm to ruin comfort, nor too soft to take away from the handling.

The £585 optional adaptive dampers come with selectable driving modes. Switch them to Sport and you can feel the whole car tense up, the steering get sharper and the exhaust note racier. In Normal mode, the Mini is comfortable over low quality roads and can travel long distances without overstraining the driver.

Mini John Cooper Works

The most powerful version of the Mini, the John Cooper Works (or JCW) drives a little differently to the rest of the range. It has much firmer suspension to reduce body roll when you go around corners fast. When we tested the JCW in 2016 we found that the firm suspension was tolerable – but make sure you test drive a JCW if you’ll regularly be driving long journeys or using it on less-than-perfect roads, because your tolerance for a bumpy ride will dictate whether you love or hate the car.

The JCW always feels like it wants to be driven fast – the clutch engages very abruptly, immediately egging you on to accelerate hard wherever you are. The JCW is the best Mini for track days too, where it’s a hugely entertaining car to drive fast because the rear of the car feels as if it wants to pivot around the front wheels, helping you turn into corners with incredible speed and accuracy. You’ll always get out of the JCW feeling exhilarated, so consider the slightly slower Cooper S if you want a more relaxed driving experience.

The biggest news of the Mini’s engine range is its adoption of three-cylinder power units. The only versions of the Mini that get four cylinders are the range-topping Cooper S and JCW models, which use 2.0-litre engines. The manual gearbox is faultless, but if you want easier urban driving you can go for the automatic that offers fast reactions, precise shifts and in some cases (such as the Cooper S) it even marginally improves fuel economy.

Mini Hatchback petrol engines

The petrol One comes with a 100hp from its turbocharged engine and should be all you ever need if you rarely go out of town with your Hatchback. The 9.9 seconds from 0-62mph aren’t blisteringly fast, but decently quick for the cheapest engine choice.

The petrol Cooper could be the pick of the range, with an engine that barely puts a foot wrong. It’s peppy, doesn’t guzzle fuel, and has power no matter what revs it’s at.

As for the Cooper S, it’s brisk, crackles through the exhaust when you lift off the accelerator and gets 50 mpg – 12mpg less than the Cooper.

The John Cooper Works version of the Cooper S is the most powerful and comes with 236 lb ft of torque available from very low in the rev range so in-gear acceleration and overtaking speeds are impressive. The manual gearbox is the one to go for in this model because it adds another level of engagement between the driver and the car. It rev-matches on downshifts and you get head-turning pops and bangs every time you change gear.

Mini Hatchback diesel engines

The basic One D is powered by the same 1.5-litre diesel that powers the Cooper D but with 95hp instead of 115hp. It has enough pulling power to feel lively despite the 11 second 0-62mph time. It’s the cheapest to run averaging fuel consumption of 83.1mpg and being free to tax thanks to its 87g/km of CO2 emissions.

The Cooper D is also smooth, but as a midway proposition between the super-frugal One D and the quick Cooper SD it may get overlooked by potential buyers. It’s a quiet engine, so low-speed noise doesn’t intrude too much and there’s 80mpg on offer if you’re ultra careful.

The Cooper SD is the fastest diesel engine on offer and can propel the Hatchback from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds while still returning a combined fuel economy of 68.9mpg.

No reviewers have tested the MINI One yet, so we can't tell you what it's like, whether it's noisy or quiet, and whether you'd wish you'd opted for one of the more powerful models.

What we can tell you is that it's the cheapest way into MINI ownership, and that the little 1.2 unit is usefully frugal on paper - combined economy is 61.4 mpg in its most basic form, the resulting 108 g/km CO2 landing you with an inconsequential £20 yearly VED bill.

It's not even as slow as you might expect. With 102 horses to call upon, the 0-60 sprint is done in 9.9 seconds and top speed is a thoroughly reasonable 121 mph. We'll bring you more details when the first reviewers get their hands on the One.

The basic 1.5 Cooper could be the pick of the new MINI range. It features a three-cylinder turbocharged engine, good for 136 hp and a sprightly 7.9-second 0-60 time - yet also manages 62.8 mpg on the combined economy cycle.

As one reviewer puts it, it's an "extremely good" engine. It's lighter than the old 4-cylinder Cooper engine, so handling is improved. There's a wider torque band to call upon, it's "terrifically responsive" and incredibly flexible. It also remains quiet and smooth as you charge to the red line.

If all that isn't enough, it has a light, snappy manual gearchange too. Unless you need the extra performance of the Cooper S, the 1.5 Cooper is the cheaper, more vivacious option.

There's just one review so far of the MINI Cooper D. Like its petrol Cooper counterpart, the diesel model makes do with three cylinders this time around, but that's no hardship.

The review notes that "like all diesels" it's a little noisy at lower speeds and wide throttle openings, but elsewhere it's "very refined indeed". It's also "remarkably effective" at overtaking thanks to strong mid-range torque. The bare figures are 9.2 seconds to 60 and 127 mph - not bad at all for such a fuel-sipping car.

80.7 mpg is your combined figure, and while that's probably not realistic in the real world, it's still not going to use much fuel. You won't pay any car tax, either.

The MINI One D - which is a basic diesel MINI and not a boyband-themed special edition - hasn't yet been tested by the experts.

If it's anything like the Cooper D though - and with the same 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder engine, it is - the One D will be refined and punchy. A little less punchy overall, with only 95 horses to call upon, but that's still enough for an 11-second 0-60 sprint. The more pertinent number is 83.1 - that's how many miles it does to every gallon. And vehicle tax is free. Stay tuned for a full review soon.

Unlike the other MINIs and their three-cylinder engines, the Cooper S retains a four-pot for this generation. It's bigger than before though at 2 litres, for a chunky 192 horsepower punch.

Reviews are predictably positive. It's a characterful unit, "markedly better" than the old Cooper S engine. It's linear, flexible, and offers pops and crackles on the over-run. It's also more refined when you're cruising.

Brisk too, at 6.8 seconds to 60. And it won't hit your wallet too hard, since almost 50 mpg is achievable. The only thorn in its side is the regular Cooper - the smaller engine is so brilliant that even the new 2-litre lump can't match it for fizz.

These are general, non engine-specific reviews of the new MINI hatchback. They give you a good idea of what the car is like without going into detail on one particular engine or trim level.

When crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2014 the Mini did fairly well, scoring four out of five stars.

Because it’s a BMW group product there’s a strong reputation to uphold and as a result the Hatchback features some clever technology. Active Pedestrian Protection is a feature that pops the bonnet up and back should the car strike a pedestrian, providing extra cushioning for their head and limbs.

The Mini also features optional £440 anti-collision braking for low-speed city incidents and gives you speed limit information on the car’s central display screen.

The higher price, compared to rivals, means that even entry-level Mini models gets air-conditioning, alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity for the DAB digital radio as well as foglights. Mid-range Cooper S models add sporty touches such as body-hugging seats, while the JCW range-topper is even more performance focused with larger wheels and a racy bodykit.

There are also lots of optional extras and Mini has cleverly grouped the most popular ones in packs.

What’s in the Mini Pepper Pack?

The £1,230 Pepper Pack comes with a sports steering wheel, height adjustable driver’s seat and interior mood lighting whereas the £2,400 Chili Pack combines front sports seats with half-leather upholstery, a multifunction steering wheel and LED headlights.

WHAT’S IN THE MINI Chili PACK?

The Chili pack includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, an additional storage compartment in the boot, partial leather upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, mood lighting, floor mats and a drive mode selector. This pack is priced at £3,200 on Cooper models and £2,400 on Cooper S models.

WHAT’S IN THE MINI Driving Excitement PACK?

The Mini Driving Excitement pack allows you to use a number of smartphone functions, including a G-force meter, in conjunction with the car’s standard infotainment system. This option is fitted as standard on cars equipped with the Mini Connected package.

What’s in the Mini Sport Pack?

New for 2015 is the Sport Pack, which for £4,500 makes the basic One model resemble the more-expensive John Cooper Works – it brings a JCW bodykit, JCW spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels in black or silver for the exterior, while the interior gets a JCW steering wheel, dual-zone air-conditioning, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers plus selectable driving modes.

What’s in the Mini Tech Pack?

The Tech Pack was introduced in the beginning of 2016 and brings a raft of high-tech kit. The reversing camera helps immensely with parking, while the infotainment system with an 8.8-inch screen has satellite navigation with live traffic information. The sat-nav map, along with the car’s speed can be displayed on the head-up display that is a class first. The Tech Pack will set you back £1,800, but in our opinion well worth the outlay.

Mini Seven Special Edition

The special edition Mini Seven is available as an upgrade to Cooper S, Cooper D and Cooper SD models. It comes with the option of exclusive Lapisluxury Blue paintwork with a contrasting silver roof and silver racing stripes with optional brown highlights. Unique 17-inch alloy wheels feature as standard. The interior comes fitted with part leather trim, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a 6.5-inch infotainment system display and LED interior lighting. The Mini Seven costs from £18,545.

Conclusion

Mini has done exactly what it needed to do with the new car. It’s reduced the previous car’s weaknesses, and played on its strengths. Throw in a bunch of highly impressive new engines and it’s a more rational choice than before, too. Economy is excellent and all engines are much more refined. The Audi A1 might be more practical and the Fiat 500 might be cheaper to buy, but the Mini remains our top choice for an upmarket supermini.