MINI Hatch Review

Find out more about the MINI Hatch in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

Loading...
  • Pros
  • Standout fun to drive
  • High quality finish and styling
  • Efficient and exciting engine range
  • Cons
  • Expensive options list
  • Practicality not up to rivals’ standards
  • Premium feel comes at relatively high cost
  • MPG
    42 - 55
  • CO2
    117 - 158 g/km
Model Review

 

MINI, as a brand, has been around for a considerable time, and produced one of the most legendary models in motoring – the Mini Cooper. 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 bringing the classic 60’s design into the 21st Century. This model was the start of the modern MINI line 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 is its supreme driving experience, which for many small cars is impossible to match.

Latest Model

 

The third generation of the Hatch was released in 2013, and despite the model being on sale for four years, it hasn’t dated very much at all.

 

Fitted with the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo engines, they provide exciting performance alongside frugal fuel usage, which makes them a competitive option in the ever-improving hatchback sector.

 

This latest generation of the Hatch is the largest it has ever been, which provides more interior space than the previous generation, but does fall behind quite obviously on overall storage when compared to some of its rivals.

 

Another possible issue with the Hatch is it can be rather expensive when other options are added, although the overall finish of the MINI is really quite good and is a worthy challenger in the premium hatchback market.

 

Value for money 

From the base ‘One’ model, the Hatch is fitted with black cloth trim and metallic paint, and with standard accessories such as Bluetooth hands-free, DAB digital radio, on-board trip computer and full alarm system, it is quite over-priced for a hatchback at £14,225 for the three-door and £14,825 for the five-door version.

The base models come with just 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.

For just £14,000, you can buy a 2014 three-door Cooper S Hatch with just 7,000 miles on the clock and sporty performance from a 2.0-litre, 189bhp petrol engine.

Fitted with plenty of great accessories, such as DAB radio, in-car entertainment and leather with cloth interior, it also comes with Start/Stop technology and front sports seats – plenty of extra features to please your appetite.

 

Looks and image

 

One of the main attractions for the MINI Hatch is its looks, and with the retro design getting minor tweaks here and there through each generation, it still has a standout design in the hatchback sector. The interior design is simple and driver-orientated, and with BMW-designed technology and fixtures, it will last and work superbly.

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.

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

Space and practicality

 

Built for performance rather than practicality, the boot space is still on par with the Ford Fiesta, although that does compromise rear seating space. 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.

 

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. The passenger space in both body types, however, is still very good.

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 has plenty of space nonetheless.

 

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 so.

When fitted, the driver gains adaptive cruise control, collision warning and traffic sign memory, which for the One model come as a £440 extra as part of the Driving Assistant pack.

 

Engines

 

Starting in the One trim level, you have the choice between the three-cylinder 1.2-litre 75bhp petrol and the 1.5-litre three-cylinder 95bhp diesel engine for the One D model. As you move up the trim options, however, you get more powerful options for both petrol and diesel preferences – with the top level Cooper S model has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder 192bhp petrol, that returns excellent performance and a 6.8 second time for the 0-60mph sprint.

With the optional driving modes, you can choose to have a more economic drive – which returns higher levels of fuel economy and lower emissions – or the performance-orientated mode.

Even with the extra power, the Cooper S can return upwards of 50mpg, with the lower-end diesel model capable of more than 80mpg, which means it can compete with many of its market rivals.

All the engines can be paired with six-speed manual, while Cooper S and SD can have a sport automatic transmission, which comes with Auto Start/Stop.

 

Running costs

 

As most models can attain close to or more than 50mpg, you could go a while between filling up at the pumps, although be very wary of the sometimes thirsty Cooper S, which can swiftly get through its fuel tank if you drive to vigorously.

For hyper-milers, it’s best to go for one of the turbo-diesel options, with the One D model able to reach 65mpg in standard traffic and is capable of a staggering 83.1mpg. Insurance costs for both the three and five-door models can be high depending on the model you choose, with the Cooper S slotting into group 26.

Due to its premium status and servicing costs, it does mean that more affordable hatchbacks can undercut it in terms of overall running costs, and with the new road tax rules from April 1st 2017, the Hatch’s road tax costs will increase also, up to a possibly hefty £140 for the year.

 

Things to look out for

 

Despite being in its fourth year of production, the current generation of the Hatch has suffered from little to no major problems at all, mainly due to improved reliability and 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 great affordable options, but in terms of premium options, the MINI Hatch has few to battle it out with. Only the DS 3, Alfa Romeo MiTo and the Audi A1 could be considered as the Hatch’s rivals due to their premium finish and similar price range for their models. However, with what could be considered a better overall image and reliable performance, the MINI Hatch could be hard-pushed to be bettered.

 

Depreciation warning

 

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 Chili pack, climate control and well-considered cosmetic options 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.

Which Hatch to Pick

Trims Explained

To keep options simple, the Hatch has just three main trim levels – One, Cooper and Cooper S – with both coming in diesel and petrol variants. However, where MINI asks you to choose the majority of your features is through the options list, and the basic spec of the trims can leave little to be desired. Rather than providing more standard features, each trim gives you more access to features that you can install to your Hatch model – as with all other MINIs.

One

Starting with the One specification, MINI fits a DAB radio, Bluetooth Hands-Free, on-board computer and air conditioning, meaning you have adequate but not lavish fixtures – something you may expect from a premium hatchback. For added technology, MINI offers the Pepper Pack, which adds front foglights, sport steering wheel and automatic air conditioning, which comes at a £1,230 premium.

The One models start from £14,225.

Cooper

In the mid-spec Cooper trim, you gain more access to options without any real additions to the base model, so apart from the more powerful engines, the Cooper starting price of £15,775 may not seem like a good offer at all.

But with the additional Chili, Media and John Cooper Works packs available to spice up the cars appearance and infotainment systems, you get plenty more in your Hatch, although it can come at a rather large cost.

Cooper S

With the top Cooper S trim, you get more dynamic features, such as a sports steering wheel, performance control and sports seats for the driver and front passenger, although the possibly excessive starting point of £19,130 could put people off.

The Chili, Media and John Cooper Works Chili packs are available, but again add in excess of £2,000 on top of the standard 189bhp petrol version.

Summary

  1. Stylish model that stands out in the hatchback sector
  2. Options list can hike the price up significantly
  3. Efficient engine options that provide good quality performance
  4. Unrivalled steering feel and control
  5. Premium feel few can match in the sector
  6. Reliable throughout most generations
  7. Third generation is larger, but could be cramped in the rear seats
  8. Firm ride, but that can be softened
  9. More affordable options could provide better practicality
  10. Performs very well on the used market