Review

MINI hatchback

Price  £13,750 - £21,070

MINI hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Stylish image
  • Economical engines
  • Lots of fun to drive
Cons
  • Firm suspension
  • Still not very practical
  • Expensive price and options

At a glance

The greenest
MINI One D 3dr £14,890
The cheapest
MINI One 3dr £13,750
The fastest
MINI Cooper S 3dr £18,655
Top of the range
Cooper SD Auto 3dr £21,070

"The new MINI is bigger and better than ever but still isn't the most practical car in its class."

The old MINI got a reputation for having cool styling, lots of customisable options, and being the best handling car in its class. The new model was launched earlier this year and looks to keep the good points of the old car, while sorting out negatives such as the small boot.

Although the outgoing model wasn’t exactly heavy on fuel, the new car makes impressive improvements across the board thanks to a range of new hi-tech engines and even the basic 1.2-litre petrol can return up to 61.4mpg, while road tax will cost just £20.

Inside, the interior is bigger and gets better quality plastics, although the large centrally mounted speedometer remains, it now sports an infotainment display that controls things such as the stereo, as well as displaying instructions from the sat-nav.

The MINI range starts with the MINI One, while the MINI Cooper is a good all-rounder thanks to being pretty quick and also cheap to run. For now, the Cooper S is the fastest model thanks to its 2.0-litre petrol engine, but the MINI John Cooper Works, which is scheduled for release next year, will be even quicker. The diesel One D and Cooper D, both offer extremely cheap running costs.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.5 / 5

Diesel engines return hugely impressive fuel economy

None of the models in the MINI range are hugely expensive to run. The basic MINI One, which is the cheapest car to buy, gets 61.4mpg and costs £20 to tax annually, while the more expensive diesel version is free to tax and is stunningly economical, with 83.1mpg possible. The Cooper D offers the best of both worlds by being pretty quick and still getting more than 70 MPG. But even the fast MINI Cooper S can nudge 50mpg.

Interior & comfort

3.0 / 5

Ride is still firm but interior is more plush than ever before

All new MINIs come with switchable settings for the car – Green, Mid and Sport – that allow you to tune your MINI to be economical, comfy or sporty. Sport mode sharpens the throttle and makes the steering heavier, while on the Cooper S it also makes the suspension firmer and the exhaust louder.

Although lots of fun to drive, the MINI Cooper S is quite stiff, something that doesn’t completely go away even when the car is in Green mode – particularly if you choose to spec it with bigger wheels.

Inside, the quality of interior plastics has improved, but the MINI keeps its distinctive looks. All models now come with MINI's handy keyless go system and the central dial also doubles as a display for systems such as the sat-nav and rear parking sensors.

Practicality & boot space

2.5 / 5

Boot space still isn't great and rear seats remain quite cramped

Space, or lack of it, has been something of an Achilles heel for the MINI in the past, and it's something the new car has sought to address with varying levels of success.

Fitting in the front has never been a problem, but the MINI's back seat now offers slightly more legroom. 

The boot used to come in for the most criticism, though, and it's now grown by 30 per cent to 211 litres. That's still less than you’ll get in a Volkswagen up! though, and it's from a class below.

The MINI's interior looks stylish, but it has also got quite a lot of storage areas sprinkled around it. The dashboard doesn’t just get a glovebox, there's also hidden cubbyhole above it, cupholders in front of the gear stick, and reasonably sized door bins.

Reliability & safety

4.0 / 5

Decent build-quality and plenty of safety technology

 

The MINI may have a reputation for being a premium model, but in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey you told us that the car doesn’t live up to the reputation and it finished a dismal 142nd place out of 150 cars. Lets hope the new model can improve on this.

The latest car has only just arrived in showrooms and it is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP. The old model got the full five stars when it was evaluated in 2007 and we expect the new model to follow suite. It's stronger than the car it replaces and gets a bonnet that pops up to protect pedestrians. As with the old car, it gets plenty of airbags and electronic stability control. Options include a reversing camera and a Head Up Display (HUD) that projects important information onto the windscreen. 

Engines, drive & performance

4.5 / 5

The new MINI is even more fun to drive than before

The new MINI gets a range of high-tech engines that let you have fun without burning too much fuel.

The 1.5-litre petrol in the Cooper is quick, economical, and has bags of character, but if performance is what you’re after the Cooper S is the one to have. Its steering adjusts for weight, while its exhaust makes popping noises to give the car extra character. The suspension can also be adjusted, although whatever mode you choose it always feels quite firm.

We think it's the diesel engine in the Cooper D that is the pick of the bunch, though. It will do 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds, but is also quiet and very economical.

Price, value for money & options

3.5 / 5

Improvements justify higher price tag, but optional extras are expensive

The latest MINI costs about £400 more than the old model and there are plenty of cheaper options in its class, but the MINI's enduring popularity means that it should keep its value better than other cars.

It can be specced with options including a rear-view camera, HUD, and adaptive cruise control, although these will add a lot to the list price of the car.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 3 reviews
  • 4.0 / 5
    "The latest Mini betters its predecessor in nearly every area that matters – it’s bigger, faster, more efficient and has a much improved interior."
  • 4.0 / 5
    "The MINI also benefits from even higher levels of technology than before, making it safer, better equipped and posher than it have ever been before. Yet with prices rises by 2.6 per cent, or around £400, the new MINI is also one of the most competitively priced that BMW has ever sold."
  • 4.0 / 5
    "More space, refinement, practicality and power for Mini’s pocket rocket. The three-cylinder engine is a charmer and some of the technology systems are welcome additions. The Cooper is back at the top of the Mini range for the moment."

Last updated 
25 Mar 2014

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