Review: the MINI five-door
- Credit: Archant
It was a long wait, but the MINI five-door opens up a whole new market for the legendary motoring icon
A full-scale replica of the MINI hatchback hangs vertically above the entrance to Broad Oak’s Ashford dealership and, once over the threshold, I wondered whether I had strolled into a night club, TV studio or IT hothouse.
Broad Oak marketing manager Jas Jassad said that, like the cars, MINI’s “brand decor palette” allows much customisation; a reason why Broad Oak’s sister site at Canterbury might soon install a lightshow in the handover bay where customers receive the key to their new car.
As ever, however, the real key question is whether the car itself delivers: it does in the case of the MINI five-door, launched late last year. In fact, it’s a wonder anyone had to wait 14 years for two extra doors to be added to the retro-styled hatchback.
Until then, any MINI fan wanting something more family or even mates-friendly than the original three-door had to buy the gym-toned Countryman SUV (a proper four-door, but maybe too bulky for some) or the Clubman estate, with its oddball single rear door on the wrong side for the home market ie on the offside rather than the kerbside.
The five-door (from £14,535) finally solves the problem, for just £600 more than a three-door equivalent. Indeed, you are struck by the reasonable pricing of what is a sought-after premium car.
On the other hand, having decided that the MINI is more of a bargain than you thought, you then have to ensure you don’t spend over the odds on customisation – a tempting 10 million permutations are claimed across the whole MINI line-up. One choice you can’t duck, however, is whether to go petrol or diesel, but none are duffers in the MINI range.
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The test car was the performance-oriented Cooper SD five-door (£20,235) with lots of load down punch and yet more higher up the range, all aided by a really crisp gear change and good steering wheel feedback; all MINI trademarks.
But you don’t have to drive it like a nutter, as there are three performance settings: the default being Comfort, with the appeal of Sport being obvious, while Eco allows you to aim for the 68.9mpg official combined cycle.
Good luck with the last, however, because you do tend to want to enjoy driving this car.
And this third-generation model since BMW revived the nameplate is surely the best of the lot; go-kart handling inspired by the 1960s original remains intact, but the ride is far superior to what has gone before.
As ever, the interior is beautifully executed and the big centre dial, once the speedo, now the infotainment centre, dominates a well-arranged, funky dashboard.
But does it pay to upgrade to five doors? Yes, with one compromise. Those rear doors are still not huge, but fine for kids getting in and out and adults will be comfy enough once inside, thanks to the five-door car’s extra 72mm between front and rear wheels. The boot is also bigger, so those upgrading for family reasons will like the extra 67 litres of boot space (278 total) and 21 litres added to the total load capacity with seats folded (941).
MINI 5-dr Hatchback
Prices from: from £14,535
Model featured: MINI Cooper SD £20,235
Power: 167bhp and 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds
Engine: 1,995cc turbodiesel
Fuel consumption: 68.9mpg combined cycle
Road tax: £20/year (zero year one)
Best rival: Audi A1 Sportback