Review

MINI hatchback

Price  £13,750 - £20,150

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 S Auto 3dr £20,150

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

The MINI is one of the most enduring style icons in the history of motoring and when BMW launched the modern interpretation with retro styling touches back in 2000, it kick-started a trend that saw similar 'reinvented classics' like the Fiat 500 hit the market.

The latest version, the third generation of BMW's ‘new’ MINI, is longer, wider and slightly taller than the outgoing model, which makes it slightly bigger inside and significantly increases boot space.

The MINI is loads of fun to drive, and the experience to be had from its strong performance, sharp handling, and low driving position is often likened to a go-kart. The new diesel engines available offer good performance while returning seriously impressive fuel economy.

The car now boasts an even higher quality interior than before, keeping it at the top of its class in this regard. Although the boot is bigger and there's more rear legroom before, the MINI still isn't the most practical car and the suspension remains fairly firm.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.5 / 5

Diesel engines return hugely impressive fuel economy

The new range of engines available means the latest MINI is more efficient than the old one, which itself was not an uneconomical car. The 1.5-litre diesel in the MINI One D diesel isn't available until later in 2014, but it will be capable of 80mpg while emitting 89g/km of CO2. The MINI Cooper D is the more powerful diesel MINI (and is available from launch), so economy slips slightly to 80.7mpg and 92g/km of CO2 – but these are still very impressive figures.

The most frugal petrol engine is the 1.5-litre in the MINI Cooper, which uses special engine technology to deliver both more power and better economy than the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol engine in the MINI One. The 1.5-litre returns 62.7mpg and 105g/km of CO2, compared to the 61.4mpg and 108g/km of CO2 of the 1.2-litre.  The 2.0-litre engine in the sporty MINI Cooper S is also impressive, as it's bigger than the one in the old model yet still returns improved figures of 49.6mpg and 133g/km of CO2.

Interior & comfort

3.0 / 5

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

MINIs have a reputation for a firm suspension and the new one is no exception. BMW has designed the car to be agile and fun to drive but this comes at the cost of some comfort - you’ll feel bumps in the road more than you would in most of the MINI's rivals. Potholes cause jolts inside the car and long journeys can get a bit tiring. The sportier MINI Cooper S models suffer the most, particularly if you choose the optional larger alloy wheels, so bear this in mind when ordering. The new MINI does get more supportive seats though, which take some of the sting out of the ride.

Thanks to its bigger dimensions, the MINI now has more headroom for people in the front. Although rear legroom has been improved because the car is longer, we’re only talking a couple of centimeters, so tall passengers still aren’t going to be especially comfortable.

The new interior is an improvement on the old car – it feels plusher, with more soft touch plastics used and there are some changes for the better as far as the layout is concerned. The speed dial and certain switches are now in more intuitive places and the trademark MINI dial mounted in the centre of the dashboard is used for the sat-nav and its settings. The MINI's interior has always had a premium feel and it's never been more true than with the latest version.

Practicality & boot space

2.5 / 5

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

Boot space has long been an issue for the MINI, and BMW has attempted to fix this with a boot that is 30 per cent bigger than the old one at 211 litres. Most of the MINI's rivals, like the Peugeot 208, Citroen DS3 and Renault Clio offer around 300 litres, so while the new boot is bigger, it's still well behind other cars in this class.

The MINI's growth in size naturally leads to more space inside the car, so rear legroom is slightly better than before but still not the best. There are an adequate number of storage spaces dotted around the inside of the car but like most things with the MINI, the interior is predominantly about style rather than function.

Reliability & safety

4.0 / 5

Decent build-quality and plenty of safety technology

The MINI was last crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2007, when the car achieved a five-star rating. The tests have become more stringent since then but BMW says the new MINI has been engineered for outstanding safety performance. The German manufacturer has increased the use of high-strength steel in the car's structure, and introduced features like impact absorbers and a pop-up bonnet for better pedestrian safety. There are plenty of airbags too, plus options like a camera for reverse parking and a head-up display that means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

As you’d expect of a car made by BMW, the MINI feels well-built and we’d expect that the new technology fitted will have been rigorously tested because it’ll be used in BMW models. As a brand, MINI came a surprisingly poor 28th out of 32 in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey manufacturer rankings, and the the old model failed to make the top 100 cars league table, coming 141st out of 150 cars. Practicality was actually the main gripe though, so the new car should fare a bit better when it eventually enters the survey.

Engines, drive & performance

4.5 / 5

The new MINI is even more fun to drive than before

There is a 1.5-litre petrol in the MINI Cooper, a 1.5-litre diesel in the MINI Cooper D, and a 2.0-litre in the MINI Cooper S, and all of these engines are turbocharged. A MINI One D diesel and MINI One petrol will join the range later in 2014.

The 1.5-litre diesel in the Cooper D is the pick of the bunch. It's lighter and more powerful than the engine in the old model, and is more economical too. It will do 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds, which is a lot quicker than before, making the latest MINI an impressive performer. Not only that but it's economical and quiet, and gives the car the feeling of nippiness that people associate with the original.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine in the Cooper S is even faster, but at a significant cost to economy figures. That said, all models are great fun to drive, albeit at the expense of comfort.

Price, value for money & options

3.5 / 5

Improvements justify higher price tag, but optional extras are expensive

The new MINI is £400 more than the old one but the car is enough of an improvement to justify the increase. Of course, there are still cheaper cars in this class but the MINI feels like a posh, premium car and comes with higher levels of technology than ever before.

Options include a rear-view camera for parking, a head-up display and a camera-based adaptive cruise control system - be careful when ticking boxes on the options list, though, because extras aren’t cheap.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 3 reviews
  • 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."

  • 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."

Last updated 
25 Mar 2014

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