Price £14,075 - £21,400
- Great fun to drive
- High-quality interior
- Efficient and powerful engines
- Expensive to buy
- Firm ride
- Cramped rear seats and boot
At a glance
“The MINI hatchback is stylish and has lots of character, plus it’s cheap to run and enjoyable to drive. It’s a bit cramped in the back, though.”
Since the MINI was resurrected in the early 2000s, it has traded on its characterful, retro design, customisation options and what the brand describes as its go-kart-style handling.
The latest version was introduced in 2014 and still has all of these characteristics, but with more interior space than ever before, a high quality interior and more efficient yet powerful engines to choose from.
There should be an engine suitable for all in the MINI hatchback, with three petrol and three diesel engines to choose from. There's a 1.2-litre three-cylinder in the MINI One, a 1.5-litre in the MINI Cooper and a turbocharged 2.0-litre in the sporty Cooper S.
If you prefer diesel, a 1.5-litre engine powers the MINI One D and Cooper D in different power outputs, and there's a 2.0-litre engine in the Cooper SD. All engines are economical – even the Cooper S hot hatch will achieve around 50mpg and One D and Cooper D over 80mpg – and they all provide plenty of punch to keep you going.
You don’t have to be driving quickly to enjoy the MINI, though. It still has quite a firm ride – especially on models with larger alloy wheels – but the trade-off for this is a very involving driving experience thanks to very little body roll and quick, precise steering.
Inside, there's more space than before with plenty of space in the front, but the rear seats remain more cramped than rivals like the Audi A1 and DS 3, plus the boot is one of the smallest in its class. However, you don’t buy a MINI for its practicality, so it's good that it's at least better than it used to be.
The dashboard is still packed with character with a central display – the speedometer and rev counter are now situated ahead of the driver – and you can personalise the interior until your heart's content, just like you can with the exterior. It all looks and feels solid and well built, too, with many components shared with BMW cars – including the iDrive controller on cars fitted with MINI's Media or Tech Packs.
The MINI is pretty well equipped, but we’d go for the Cooper because it comes with Bluetooth phone connectivity, front foglights, keyless go, electric windows, alloy wheels and climate control all as standard. Be careful if you want to add extras, though, the list is very long and can become incredibly expensive. Stick to the MINI's packs and you shouldn’t spend too much over the list price.
The upside of the MINI's high list price is its strong resale values – MINIs hold their value very well thanks to a desirable image and what appealing interior. Euro NCAP awarded the MINI four stars in crash safety tests, which is a little disappointing, plus it dropped from ninth place to 97th place in the 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey largely due to the car's disappointing build quality and reliability.
A range of great small engines means the MINI Hatch is seriously cheap to run. There are great servicing deals, too
As fun as ever to drive, but also comfortable and refined on long journeys. MINI Cooper S offers serious thrills
The MINI's interior has finally come of age: it’s clearly laid-out and feels well built
The MINI Hatch has been improved compared to the car it replaced, but the boot is still too small and the rear seats too cramped
The new MINI Hatch should prove to be more reliable than the old one thanks to huge investment from BMW