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.