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MINI Hatch Review

The latest third-generation Mini Hatch is more spacious and stylish than ever before, and with the addition of an all-electric model, is now greener too.

£10,057
Average price
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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Great to drive
  • Excellent build quality
  • Efficient and exciting engine range

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited practicality
  • Firm ride
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Model Review

 

Mini, as a brand, has been around for a considerable amount of time, and has produced one of the most iconic models in motoring – the original Mini. But following the company being taken over by BMW in 1994 – when they were owned by Rover – Mini has since evolved into a premium marque in the small car market.

As the first BMW-guided production model, the Hatch redefined Mini by making it bigger and bringing the classic Issigonis 60’s design into the 21st century. This was the start of the modern Mini line-up, and has since received two major updates.

Although the overall shape hasn’t changed much, the design and size has changed with the times, and with the latest Hatch, it is the largest it has ever been and has gained cosmetic updates, so it remains fresh and a design classic.

One thing that has hindered the Hatch against its market rivals, however, is its limited practicality, with many of the hatchback models on sale offering a much larger boot and storage space. One thing that the Mini can boast about is its supreme driving experience, which for many small cars is impossible to match.

Latest Model

 

This third-generation model was launched in 2014 but, just because it’s one of the ‘older’ offerings in this class, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved. While it still carries over much of the design elements from the original Mini, it’s considerably bigger – after all it has to carry a bigger engine, have space for four passengers to sit in comfort, not to mention all the additional safety kit that’s expected of modern cars. This model introduced a five-door Mini Hatch for the first time, too.

It received a mid-life refresh in 2018, which brought with it a much fresher look. Changes include larger, more rounded tail lamps that incorporate the Union Flag, headlamps which incorporate LED daytime running lamps and a large grille. The ‘Brit’ rear lights are the easiest way of telling if a model is a pre- or post-facelift.

The cabin also is an evolution of the previous model, it remains well built, but it features a new infotainment screen in the centre console as well as neat touches scattered across the dash. It will take a bit of getting used to, but there’s nothing that should scare people off.

 

Value for money 

From the base ‘One’ model, the Hatch is fitted with LED headlights, automatic lights and wipers and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. While once being over-priced, prices for most superminis have risen considerably in recent years. It means that, with prices starting from £16,200 for the three-door and £16,940, it’s actually no more expensive than a Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza, though standard kit levels aren’t so generous.

The base ‘One’ models come with a 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces 102bhp, and although it isn’t an insignificant amount of power, you can buy used models with more features, more power and at a similar price.

Despite its appeal and image, models don’t hold their value as well as you might expect one-year-old versions being available for as little as £12,000.  Models with the Cooper engine and in Sport trim are more desirable – these starting from £15,000 for nearly-new examples.

 

Looks and image

 

One of the main attractions for the Mini Hatch is its retro looks, and its evolution with each generation has featured minor tweaks here and there which really make it stand out in this class.

The interior design is clean and driver-orientated, and with BMW-designed technology and fixtures, it will last and work superbly. It does take a little time to get used to some of the controls and functions, but all the controls have a solid, weighty feel to them.

Despite having improved suspension, the ride of the Hatch is still quite firm, although in Comfort mode it is much more forgiving and soaks up most bumps and potholes. Remember, this is a car that’s focussed on fun driving rather than overall comfort.

One thing that has been maintained since the reintroduction of the model is the ‘go-kart feel’ that has made the Hatch a great choice to drive – especially with the Cooper or Cooper S, which adds a more powerful engine and a sportier feel.

Space and practicality

 

The original Mini was named for obvious reasons as it was tiny. While this modern Mini has grown considerably, it’s still rather cosy in the cabin. Realistically, both the three- and five-door models seat four, although you could squeeze a fifth person in the middle for a short period of time in the five-door version. The five-door is larger in size, too, with its boot measuring 278 litres, which is a lot more useful than the three-door’s 211 litres.

For accessibility purposes, the five-door is the more practical option, although getting in may not be as simple as with other hatchbacks due to the relatively high floor sills.

Following the introduction of the third generation, interior space was increased and gave a few centimetres extra of space here and there for improved comfort. It may not be a great family option, but it’s a bit more spacious than you might expect.

The issue with Mini’s safety equipment is that the large majority come as optional extras, so even though the base product is a safe structure and has a four-star NCAP rating from 2014, the driver assistance systems come in optional technology packs, which increases the cost of the vehicle even more, while rivals get such features as standard.

 

Engines

 

As part of the 2018 update, Mini removed all the diesel versions from its line-up, which means if you want an eco-alternative to petrol, then you’ll have to look at the electric model. If you do want a diesel Mini, you’ll have to find a pre-2018 model, or look at a Clubman or Countryman instead.

There are two petrol choices in four guises, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder with either 101bhp or 134bhp in the One and Cooper respectively, or there’s the 2.0-litre, which pumps out 189bhp in the Cooper S and 228bhp in the John Cooper Works (JCW) model. All versions are available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch automatic.

For most, the 134bhp Cooper is a great all-rounder – offering smooth acceleration right through the rev range and managing 0-60mph in a swift 7.8 seconds, next to the One’s 10.1 seconds. If you want more performance you won’t be disappointed with the Cooper S (0-60mph in 6.6 seconds), which feels more involving to drive thanks to the sporty exhaust and more powerful engine, while the JCW hits 60mph in just 6.1 seconds.

If you’re looking for an EV, then the Mini Electric is well worth considering. It boasts a claimed 145-mile range on a full charge, but that’s based on careful driving and lots of regenerative braking. Realistically, it should be closer to the 100-mile mark. Charging takes around four hours from empty using a 7kW home wall box, or it can be topped up to 80 per cent in around 40 minutes from a 50kW rapid charger. Charging via a three-pin plug will take best part of 12 hours, though Mini only recommends doing this as a last resort.

 

Running costs

 

The Mini has always been fairly frugal while offering great driving dynamics, but this latest range of engines has really improved things significantly. The entry-level 1.5-litre petrol returns up to 49.6mpg, and CO2 emissions of between 119-125g/km. The Cooper version will average around a claimed 48.7mpg and the Cooper S 43.5mpg.

If you want to go down the electric route, then the Mini Electric is a very affordable option, and as well as being much cheaper to charge than to fuel, it also qualifies for free road tax, as well as being exempt from emissions-based road charges.

Things to look out for

 

This current generation of the Mini Hatch has proved itself pretty reliable, mainly due to improved build quality from BMW’s guidance and ownership.

Earlier generations could suffer from water pump faults in the more powerful models, such as the Cooper S and SD, and first-generation models did have handbrake issues, which should have been sorted through recalls. Do check the model’s history for any previous faults, however, as smaller issues may have occurred.

 

Rivals

 

The hatchback sector is crammed with a host of affordable options, but in terms of premium options, the Mini Hatch has few to battle it out with. Perhaps its closest rivals are the Audi A1 and upmarket new Peugeot 208.  

In terms of that retro look and personality, the Fiat 500 is also a worthy alternative, but it’s not as fun or as high-quality as the Mini.

Depreciation

 

Due to their premium finish and build, many Minis perform well on the used market, with higher spec and well-kept models coping the best. Be careful with which options you fit, however, as overloading the model could seriously affect its desirability in the used market, so make sure that when you pick your options, you choose wisely.

The new trims include Classic, Sport and Exclusive which will help keep the value of the used models up, but make sure the colour choice is also tasteful, as more garish colours could affect the value.

Three-door models should retain between 47 and 54 per cent of their value over three years, while five-door versions should hang on to between 44 and 55 percent, depending on spec.

Which Hatch to Pick

Cheapest to buy when new

1.5 One Classic 3dr

Most MPG

1.5 One Classic 3dr

Fastest model (0-60)

2.0 John Cooper Works 3dr Auto

Trims Explained

Previously buyers you used to pick their engine and then a whole host of option packs for their Mini, but since 2018 it’s been offered in three trims – Classic, Sport, Exclusive, as well as the John Cooper Works. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.

‘Classic’

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and Bluetooth, an emergency call function, as well as LED lights at the front and rear. It also comes with 15-inch steel wheels on the One, though the Cooper and Cooper S get 15- and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Priced from £16,195 (Only version available with the ‘One’ engine)

‘Sport’

This model is designed for if you want the sporty look of the John Cooper Works, but with lower running costs. It gets black 17-inch alloy wheels, a sports styling kit, sports seats and cruise control.

Priced from £20,010

‘Exclusive’

If you’re not so fussed about sportiness, the Exclusive gets revised 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats and a chrome interior and exterior package.

Priced from £20,035

‘John Cooper Works’

At the top of the range is the JCW. Alongside its larger engine, this features 17-inch alloys, a black styling pack, 17-inch alloy wheels and red brake callipers. It also gets leather and suede sports seats, along with a black interior finish and configurable driving modes.

Priced from £25,950

Summary

  1. Available with three or five doors
  2. Unrivalled steering feel and control
  3. Premium feel interior
  4. Good reliability
  5. Limited rear space
  6. Efficient petrol engines
  7. Styling looks
  8. Firm ride
  9. Holds its value well
  10. Not the most practical hatch, but one of the coolest and most enjoyable to drive

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