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New five-door Mini widens the car's appeal, but this particular variant is thwarted by the presence of more practical, cheaper rivals
Matt Prior
13 September 2014

What is it?

It is, Mini says, the first Mini hatchback with five doors. That might come as some surprise to those of you who’ve seen a Countryman, but Mini says: “Ah, we think you’ll find that’s a crossover or SUV, not a hatchback.”

Hmm. Let’s suspend reality for a moment and pretend that’s true and this also becomes the first Mini hatch – the world’s most famous small car – to measure more than four metres in length. It’s also quite an expensive Mini hatch. The addition of two doors brings with it a £600 increase over the three-door Mini.

The range’s starting price is therefore £14,350. In the Cooper SD form you see here – which we’re trying because it’s a variant we haven’t tried before, and because it was what was made available to us – the asking price is £20,050; or £21,675 with the auto gearbox that was also fitted. That’s demanding territory for a Mini. It’s pushing into Volkswagen Golf territory.

Of the five-door’s additional 16cm length over a three-door Mini, 7cm has gone into the wheelbase and is channelled straight to rear legroom. The front cabin remains the same.

The rest of the length goes behind the rear wheels, making luggage volume 278 litres – up by 67 litres. For the record, a Volkswagen Polo has a 280-litre boot within its 3972mm length. A Golf 380 litres within 4255mm.

What's it like?

Both of those Volkswagens offers more rear accommodation than the Mini, even with its newly found rear doors. The door opening is relatively small so access a touch restricted, while legroom remains a premium once you get inside.

Interior materials are sound, though, rear and front. Soft-feel plastics abound, metal (or metal-look) highlights are used where and how they ought to be. And it’s interesting in here; thoughts from the minds of creative people have gone into it. That’s not something to be overlooked.

Besides, if things are a little tight in the back for grown-ups, if you’ve ever tried placing a child seat into the rear of a three-door Mini, you’ll find this version far superior. It even adds a third rear seatbelt, making it a five- rather than a four-seater. For many, and I suppose this is the five-door’s point, it turns an un-buyable car into a genuine proposition.

Your £21,675 also gets you a decent slug of performance. The 2.0-litre BMW turbodiesel engine produces 168bhp at 4000rpm and 266lb ft of torque from only 1500rpm. Driving through the conventional torque-converter transmission, it’s good for 0-62mph in 7.3sec and a top speed of 139mph. That’s a big engine for a small car but, still, it returns 67.3mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting only 109g/km of carbon dioxide.

It’s quiet, too; impressively so given its size and relative potency. At low revs it’s hardly audible, and if you ask more of it, and the auto usually keeps it at a point in the range where it’s extremely happy to deliver, it revs with enthusiasm and an impression of power rather than gruffness.

The six-speed auto operates as good autos do, while its response can be altered by a switch behind the gearlever. Throw it to the right and it will do its best for economy. Throw it to the left and it will do what it can for dynamism. The chassis has more than one mode too. Switch it to the left and the Mini’s display will tell you it’s trying to give you “maximum go-kart feeling”.

Now, as you’ll know, no 1315kg car can feel remotely like a go-kart, regardless of whether or not it’s front-driven as the Mini is. Over the three-door, what Mini has done to try and convince you otherwise is tweak the spring and damper settings on the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear end, and the steering tune on the electrically-assisted steering, to retain the smaller Mini’s agility. To an extent, it has been successful on that front.

As the switch moves to that sporty mode, the quick, responsive but feeless steering increases in weight. And, if you’ve got a car equipped with the optional adaptive dampers of our test car, which rode on optional 205/45 R17 tyres, you’ll find the ride goes from merely mildly uncomfortable to all-but unbearable. I can’t help thinking the sweeter ride and handling spots will come further down the Mini five-door’s range. Or in fact, will remain in the Ford Fiesta range instead.

Should I buy one?

I wouldn’t in this specification. Whether you should at lesser specifications and price points is TBC.

There will be, as ever, more practical, cheaper alternatives to a Mini, but not all car buying decisions are made on those lines, thank heavens.

In the same way that it’s tempting to buy a wood-burning stove instead of a more efficient boiler because having a real fire makes you feel gooey inside, buying a Mini, as with most cars worthy of note, is an emotive choice.

Having a five-door makes that emotive choice open to more people. Which, presumably, is precisely what Mini was aiming for.

Mini Cooper SD automatic five-door

Price £21,675; 0-62mph 7.3sec; Top speed 139mph; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 109g/km; Kerb weight 1315kg; Engine 4cyls in line, 1995, turbo diesel; Installation Front, transverse, FWD; Power 168bhp at 4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd automatic

14 September 2014
I just like the idea of the return of the 1100/1300, which was so popular in its day. This is it. Just hope it doesn't evolve into an Allegro/Maestro and die.

14 September 2014
It's such a funny looking car with those oversized headlights and even larger rear lights. It's so bulbous and jelly-mould like, too; I've never taken to it.

14 September 2014
MINI reckon the 5-door will outsell the 3-door handsomely. I don't get it, as surely the appeal of the MINI is a small nippy car, a role which the 3-door does better than the 5-door?

14 September 2014
Jeremy wrote:

MINI reckon the 5-door will outsell the 3-door handsomely. I don't get it, as surely the appeal of the MINI is a small nippy car, a role which the 3-door does better than the 5-door?

According to a rival (monthly) mag, MINI are saying that they expect two thirds of buyers to go for the 3-door, and only a third for this, which begs the question why didn't they just concentrate on the forthcoming new Clubman, and the Countryman for customers wanting a 5-door.

A34

14 September 2014
Seems quite nice and if BMW can keep residuals up it should have good lease prices and be popular. The staid but top-10 Golf is probably less the target than the A3 although the Mini is more A1 5door. Maybe A1.5 sized...

14 September 2014
slightly confused by the review, that it is so negative (not that I have a problem with that, I just don't like minis). The 3 door is £600 cheaper, has no rear legroom, less luggage space, less practical etc etc, but is a good car (according to the reviewers). Why does it not say in the 3 door reviews for just a few quid more you can have x y or z. Bemused by my obvious confusion but also the reviewers.

14 September 2014
Once again, another review stating the cars base price, but not the price as tested, and reading the article, it appears this Mini has a fair few extras fitted. Can you please either test a base model or give us the price as tested, £21k might be a tad expensive, if as I suspect this is a lot nearer £30k than it is £20k, then that is very expensive.

14 September 2014
.......if the looks are anything to go by. That 3rd side window makes it look like more of a compact estate in the same vein as an A3 Sportback. It certainly does not look like a taut, sporty 5dr hatchback which is what this should have been. Think the forthcoming Clubman is a better bet if you want a smidgeon more practicality than the 3dr but that will be even more expensive, yikes!!

14 September 2014
A token 3rd rear seat belt, but look at what's where the 3rd rear passengers legs are supposed to go - ridiculous just like the car.

14 September 2014
Only 95KGs lighter than a BMW 316D ES 4-door, also a 2-litre diesel. Yet another new car grossly overweight.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

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