MINI 5-door hatchback review
"The MINI hatchback is also available with five doors, making it much more practical for families, while still being fun to drive"
- Practicality hasn’t removed fun factor
- Efficient and powerful engines
- Stylish retro design
- Quite pricey to buy
- Extensive but expensive options list
- Other cars in the class are more practical
For well over a decade, the MINI hatchback was only available in the same three-door format as the 1959 car that first carried the Mini badge. Today, though, the range has expanded to offer a MINI Countryman SUV and MINI Clubman estate, while the MINI hatchback itself is now available with five doors.
So, as well as appealing to fashion-conscious couples and individuals, the MINI is now far more suited to the rigours of family life. The five-door version accounts for around 40% of MINI hatchbacks sold, despite costing slightly more than the three-door. With three rather more spacious rear seats as a consequence of being a little longer than the three-door, it makes a stylish if pricey alternative to the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Peugeot 208 and SEAT Ibiza, as well as rivalling the Audi A1 Sportback directly.
MINIs have never blended in with the crowd and although the five-door has slightly awkward proportions compared with the three-door, most of the styling cues are shared. The car received an update for 2021, with a larger grille and LED headlamps that now also incorporate the fog lights, allowing air inlets in their place. Much of the chrome exterior trim has also been swapped in favour of black, for a sportier look.
Despite being physically longer than the MINI hatchback, the five-door is still fun to drive – thanks to sporty suspension and three-cylinder petrol engines that feel enthusiastic when pushed. The engine line-up ascends through One, Cooper and Cooper S, with the One being the most economical, managing up to 51.4mpg and emitting 124-130g/km of CO2. At the opposite extreme, the MINI Cooper S can hit 62mph from a standing start in just 6.7 seconds, yet can still return a reasonable 47.9mpg in its most efficient form.
A dual-clutch (DCT) automatic gearbox was introduced at the start of 2018, replacing the old six-speed automatic. The newer gearbox is much smoother, both when pottering around town and under hard acceleration or shifting quickly in bursts between corners. It offers slight fuel-efficiency improvements, too.
Compared to the tightly packaged three-door model, the five-door offers rear-seat passengers much more leg and headroom, but despite growing by 67 litres, its boot is still smaller than a Ford Fiesta’s. There’s also quite a prominent loading lip and the 60:40 split-folding rear seats don’t sit flush when flipped forwards, which leaves a step to lift heavy items over.
MINI has become famous for the numerous options and personalisation accessories it offers customers and the five-door is no different. However, the introduction of three trim levels has made it easier to choose your ideal MINI. The line-up starts with Classic, which boasts an 8.8-inch colour infotainment screen, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB radio and audio streaming, as well as air-conditioning. It also offers standard features that were included in the previously optional Pepper and Chilli packs, including automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, as well as nifty projectors that cast a MINI logo on the ground when a door is opened.
You can choose to upgrade to the Sport or Exclusive, the former having a racy look and the latter a more luxurious theme. As ever, there's a long list of option packs and individual upgrades to choose from, which explains why you rarely find two MINIs that are exactly the same.
The MINI hatchback didn’t feature in our 2020 Driver power owner satisfaction survey, with its last appearance in 2018 resulting in a 57th place finish out of 75 cars. In our brand survey, only 8% of MINI owners reported a fault in the first of ownership. The MINI three-door achieved four stars in Euro NCAP crash-testing, which is slightly disappointing when several rivals managed five stars.