2017 Mini hatchback review | What Car?

2017 Mini hatchback review | What Car?


You join me on a wet and cold day in the UK,
but it’s okay because I want to to talk about Mini. You see back in 2001 when BMW relaunched
the Mini brand, it hit upon an unusual phenomenon, and that was that people were willing to pay
top dollar for a small but premium car. Up until then small hatchbacks had been seen
as budget choices, but what Mini proved is that by adding luxurious features and materials
inside and ensuring funky looks on the outside, you could also charge a premium price tag.
Fast forward to today and Minis are some of the best-selling cars in the country, and
there’s one to suit every lifestyle. As well as the three and five-door hatchbacks, there’s
a convertible, the Clubman estate, and even an SUV in the form of the Countryman. It’s
still the three and five door hatchbacks that sell the best though, and it’s easy to see
why because among their conservatively styled rivals, cars like the Volkswagen polo and the Audi
A1, they really do stand out. the thing is though, does this five-door version have the
practicality and driving fun to back up it’s funky looks, keep watching to find out. Choice
is the order of the day when it comes to engines in this Mini hatchback, and kicking off the
range is a 1.2-litre petrol in the Mini One, or, if you’re wanting a diesel then you can
also have a 1.5-litre diesel in the One D. The Cooper models are our pick of the range
though, and the 1.5 litre-turbocharged petrol you get in the Cooper offers punchy performance,
but, the 1.5-litre diesel that you get in the Cooper D if very fuel efficient, and then
at the very top of the range is this, the Cooper s. It has a 2.0-litre petrol engine for
real hot hatchback performance, and it’s pop and crackle exhaust nodes only add to the
the drama, but a Fiesta ST is still better to drive. The thing is though, this Cooper
S does cost more to buy and it also has higher running costs, and the truth is, the standard
Cooper is just as fun to drive, so that is the one we’d go for. Now just like the three-door
Mini hatchback, refinement can be an issue at speed, and there’s plenty of road and wind
noise. The standard, six-speed manual gearbox can be a bit notchy, but in truth, if you’re looking
for an automatic the situation isn’t much better. We’ve got the automatic gearbox in
this car and it can be decidedly dim-witted, even though on this Cooper S model we’ve also
got these paddles behind the steering wheel. If you stick with smaller wheels, then the
Mini rides pretty comfortably, just not quite as smoothly as a Ford Fiesta. If you do go for
bigger wheels though we’d also recommend upgrading to adaptive dampers, which can soften the
ride at the touch of a button. Those who remember the original Mini will find lots of retro
charm in here, but thankfully its all been given a modern twist. This driver’s seat is
nice and comfortable, giving you a good view over the road ahead, but if you want to adjust
it, and there is a lot of adjustment to be had, some of the controls can be a little bit harder
to reach once you’ve got these doors closed. The pedals are offset as well, meaning you
sit slightly at an angle, and that means finding that perfect driving position could take some
time. Fortunately though, this steering wheel adjusts for both height and reach, giving
you a good range of adjustment to find your ideal position. Now, parking the Mini is no
trouble because you get a great view over the road ahead and even looking out the back
towards the back window gives you a good view. Should you need help though, rear parking
sensors are on the options list, as well as an automatic parking system. Everything feels really
well put together in here, and there are some nice premium touches too, but there is some
evidence of cost cutting though, particularly around the seat switches to adjust the seats,
and also the orange back lit display that you get on standard models can look a little
cheap. Sadly, as standard, you don’t get a color screen on the Mini, which you do in
rivals like the Audi A1 and the Volkswagen polo, but you do get standard equipment including
a USB socket and Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB digital radio. Thankfully, it doesn’t
cost much to upgrade to a 6.5-inch screen, which is based on parent company BMW’s excellent
iDrive infotainment and navigation system. It all looks and works really good and is all
controlled by this rotary dial down here behind the gear lever. You can also upgrade to this
larger 8.8-inch screen which really makes the iDrive infotainment system look at its
very best. Now to select a destination I’m going to select menu here on this rotary controller, go to navigation and then I’m going to destination input and I’m going to use this pad to start
writing Twickenham, which is where our offices are based. That’s got an N there we need a
W, I, C, K, its already found Twickenham, there we go and if I then select start guidance,
its already found the route, the selected criteria is fast, so when I move off this
route now displays in front of me, and if you have a heads up display, which is what
we’ve got on this car, then the sat-nav directions are also put directly into your field of vision.
Now we already connected our phone via Bluetooth earlier so if I go to the telephone menu,
I’ve got all my contacts in here, I can make and receive calls, and that means that I can
keep my attention on the road where it belongs. Now one of the neat features we’ve got on
this car is this ring of LED lights which encircle this infotainment system. Not only
do they look good, they also change their function depending on what you’re doing in
the car, so, if i start the engine, then we can see they give us this nice, red light
display to welcome us to the car. If I want to change the volume for example on the stereo,
they’re going to show me that as well as I turn up the sound of Jeremy Vine here on Radio
2, it gives me an indication of how loud the stereo is going, let’s turn that down again.
It also changes depending if you’re setting the temperature inside the car, we get a nice
indication there of how hot or how cold the temperature is going to be. Now if you’ve
got the option of choosing driving modes on your Mini, it also changes depending on those.
So if I flip the car over to its Eco mode now we get this ring of green LED lights,
and they change and rise and fall depending on how eco-friendly your driving is. In Mid-
mode, or normal mode, we get this ring of yellow light, and in sport mode, the whole
dial changes to become an indication of our rev counter and as we’re driving along this
white line rises and falls with the revs, it really looks fantastic. There’s a bit more
space in the five-door version of the Mini hatchback compared to the regular three-door
car, and in the front, at least, you should be able to get comfortable. There’s also a
few well thought out storage areas and cup holders dotted around for your odds and ends,
but it’s in the rear where you’ll notice the biggest difference. Sadly, getting into the
rear seats of the Mini isn’t as easy as it is on some five-door rivals, and that’s because
these door openings are rather small and you also have to step over this high sill. Now
the problem is compounded here because I’m a larger driver and my seat needs to be set
further back and that really does mean there is the bare minimum of leg room for anyone
else. Once you are sat back here though we would recommend only seating two people rather
than three, because, as you can probably tell, anybody sitting in this middle seat is going
to be very squashed. In terms of boot space, this Mini rivals the big selling Ford Fiesta,
and that means that, while there’s not a huge amount of space in here, there is at least
enough for a large weekly shop or for a couple of suit cases. It is a bit short on length
though, so if you plan on loading bulkier items in like a pram or a set of golf
clubs in here, then you might need to load them width ways. You can also get a variable
boot floor, which eliminates this awkward loading lip, when putting items in. If you
do find yourself in need of more space, then these rear seats fold down to several different
angles, but in truth, anything but the most reclined setting will make passengers feel
as though they are leaning forward. For a small car, the Mini offers a very reasonable
amount of space inside, but, which version should you buy? We’d avoid the Cooper S model
we’ve got here because, in truth, if you’re looking for a small hot hatchback then Ford’s
Fiesta ST is still a better bet, and for similar reasons, we wouldn’t go for the Cooper SD.
The most sensible options in the range are the Cooper and Cooper D models. Both are still
fun to drive , but also offer a sensible running costs. Whichever version of the Mini you go
for though, its worth spending a little bit extra on one of the optional equipment packs.
Both get you plenty of extra features for not much money, and the truth is, most Mini
buyers go for at least one, so not doing so could affect the resale value of your car when
it comes time to sell. The cheapest is the pepper pack, and it gets you 16 inch alloy
wheels, climate control and ambient interior lighting, and the media pack is worth looking
at too. The addition of two extra doors doesn’t transform the Mini into the ultimate family
car, but what it does do is make it more appealing to those who regularly need to carry four
people. It’s priced in line with Audi’s A1 Sportback and will depreciate slower than
other small cars like the Fiesta or Polo. Now if you’re looking for a small car with
a posh badge, the Mini is well worth considering, it’s relaxing to drive, has a smart interior
and has a strong range of engines. Now for our full reviews on both the three and five-door versions of the Mini, head to Whatcar.com, but before you do, click subscribe

About the Author: Michael Flood

31 Comments

  1. Great reviewer. The German definition of Premium: strip the car until there's just a empty box leftover, and sell it at full price. Then put everything that was stripped out on the option list for double the price. Et voila, you've got your premium car.

  2. Every time I park my 2005 Mini near to a modern Mini – I shake my head and wonder how they could mess up such a nice small package.

  3. Good review, horrible car. The original mini was small and pretty – this Mini is just ….. ugh. It's neither one thing nor the other. Modern hatches are easier to upsize; "bubble shaped" cars like the Fiat 500 and Mini don't upsize well. Similarly, that retro circular instrument binnacle doesn't work with a modern digital display – not for me, anyway – like redesigning Big Ben as a digital clock.

  4. Hey Darren, I am 5'11 Broad Shouldered and Belly, what would you suggest for Mini Model here in Canada, what was your height? would you recommend? Cheers!

  5. Tbh the media sucks except the dab radio. The navigation is pretty shit. I always use Google maps on my phone.
    5 door is not worth. Just buy a bigger car if you want 5 door such as a countryman.

  6. Nice review mate. People should limit their comments on car and the review rather than commenting on the reviewer personally.

  7. Guy at bmw: How to make MINI more fun?

    add 2 more doors so you can gloat on how fast you can go to two more friends.

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