What’s Hot: Astonishing go-kart handling, dynamic performance, improved ergonomics.
What’s Not: No standard Bluetooth audio streaming, sat-nav or rear camera on the base model.
X- FACTOR: Add another two doors, and suddenly there's a practical MINI with all the fun and phenomenal handling of the original.
Vehicle Style: 5-Door hatch
Price: $27,750 - $38,050 (plus on- roads)
Cooper: 100kW/220Nm 1.5 3cyl petrol | 6spd manual / auto
Cooper D: 85kW/270Nm 1.5 3cyl diesel | 6spd manual / auto
Cooper S: 141kW/280Nm 2.0 4cyl petrol | 6spd manual / auto
Cooper: 4.9l/100km claimed | 6.2 l/100km as tested
Cooper D: 3.8l/100km claimed | 5.2 l/100km as tested
Cooper S: 6.0l/100km claimed | 8.1 l/100km as tested
If you’ve liked the Mini Cooper 3-door in the past but couldn’t quite squeeze the family in, you’re gonna love this.
The new Mini Cooper 5-Door hatch is a first for the company. It’s longer (in both length and wheelbase), taller, and more accommodating than the 3-door, but with all its driving attitude and agility retained.
There’s more legroom in the rear (72mm), more headroom (15mm), and more boot-space (67 litres).
But the car hasn’t grown fat or middle-aged, no siree.
The Mini Cooper 5-Door sticks to winding country roads like they were fly-paper. And while some cars sound upset if you rev them hard - the sweet-sounding Mini just begs for more.
Importantly, it retains that famous go-kart handling for when you’re tearing around on your own.
Theoretically, the Cooper 5-Door hatch now seats five, although the middle passenger in the rear effectively needs to put one leg either side of the back of the centre armrest, which is a bit rough.
But four, it does well… better, in fact, than some other light hatches.
There are three versions of the Cooper 5-Door: the standard Cooper with its twin- turbo three-cylinder 1.5 litre petrol engine, the Cooper D with its lively yet miserly three-cylinder 1.5 litre diesel engine, and the Cooper S, featuring a fantastic 2.0 litre TwinPower Turbo petrol engine that drives the car around corners with more zip than a leather-man's jacket.
All models come standard with a quick shifting six-speed manual gearbox, or an equally nimple optional six speed automatic for the Cooper and Cooper D. The Cooper S can be specified with a Steptronic Sports Automatic with gearshift paddles.
If the Mini’s been ‘off the table’ in your thinking thanks its impractical proportions, you can now think again.
- Cool interactive and customisable LED back-lighting.
- Switches and dials that reflect the past without indulging in it.
- Firm and supportive manually-adjustable front seats (inc. height adjustment).
- Reach and rake adjustable leather steering wheel.
- Standard equipment on all models includes: electric windows, heated exterior rearview mirrors, adaptive cruise control, an audio system with USB and Auxiliary inputs, AM/FM tuner, Bluetooth telephony, switchable start/stop on the automatic variants, air- conditioning, automatic windscreen wipers and lights, interior LED ambient lights package, six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control and rear fog lights.
- Optional extras include: Bluetooth audio streaming on the base model, leather seats, retractable head- up display, and countless others well beyond the scope of this article.
Stepping into the Mini 5-Door for the first time is like setting up in a 21st century British Spitfire… only, this time, not to go into battle with the Germans (since they own the company).
Toggle switches in the roof and on the dash control everything from keyless start/stop, to the traction control and sunroof (in the Cooper S), all protected from knocks and mishaps by old-fashioned barrier hoops.
Everything is round - the speedo (which is thankfully now back in front of the driver, and which ingeniously moves up and down as you adjust the steering column), the impressive (and large) central navigational system (including its various display modes), the aircon contols, the speakers, the door handles, the base of the gearstick… and most obviously the steering wheel.
But somehow none of this obsession with all things round smacks of tokenism or kookiness for kookiness’s sake. It all looks and feels great, and is unmistakably characteristic of the car.
Everything is within easy reach - but hey, it’s a Mini. The leather wrapped steering wheel is thick and comfortable, controlling that fantastically responsive grip on the road.
The seating is firm and torso hugging, which we put to the test on the roads around the Adelaide Hills. In the Cooper S, the seats have an adjustable under-thigh support, which is nice.
The interactive, coloured interior LED lighting establishes a hi-tech interior ambience without looking try-hard - which is hard to pull off.
And nowhere is this more evident that in the centre of the dash where the speedo once stood.
Here, surrounded by soft nebulous LED lighting that changes colour depending on which function you’re in, is a large display, which provides information about everything from the vehicle’s setup, the infotainment system, communication and, where fitted, navigation functions.
Disappointingly, the impressively large 8.8-inch navigation system on the Cooper S is absent on the base model and smaller on the Cooper D, though it can be added as an option.
Worse, is the dated thinking that BlueTooth audio streaming is somehow an option in a ‘funky’, ‘urban cool’ 21st-Century vehicle. (Some under 25 would probably prefer it to an engine! Drip-feeding these technologies across varaints is shortsighted.)
Storage is adequate throughout. There are front and rear door pockets and cupholders, two more in the front, while in the rear a central holder can accommodate a 1.5 litre bottle. There is nowhere for sunnies other than the glovebox.
The boot offers 278 litres of space with the rear seats in the default position, expanding further with the 60/40 split rear seat back placed at a 90-degree angle.
One of the main features of the Cooper S - that’s an optional extra on the standard and D variants of the car - is the ‘Mini Driving Mode’ control.
This feature allows the driver to select either GREEN, MID or SPORT modes via a rotary switch next to the gear lever. MID offers a respectable ‘standard’ balance between handling versus fuel- efficiency; GREEN reduces the fun and the fuel consumption by equal proportion, proving empirically that having fun is bad for the environment; while SPORT mode cranks up the throttle, steering and transmission settings to make the car far lively and more engaged with a determined driver.
Add to this equation the optional Dynamic Damper Control system and the Mini 5-Door really starts heading down a (not- so- slippery) slope into rally car territory. This system adjusts compression and rebound settings for the dampers, making for even more agile handling, depending on which mode you’ve selected.
ON THE ROAD
- Cooper: 100kW/220Nm 1.5-litre turbo-charged petrol 3-cylinder, with 6-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission.
- Cooper D: 85kW/270Nm 1.5-litre common rail, direct injection turbo-charged diesel 3-cylinder, with 6-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission.
- Cooper S: 141kW/280Nm 2.0-litre common rail, direct injection turbo-charged petrol 4-cylinder, with 6-speed manual gearbox or 6-speed Steptronic Sports Automatic transmission.
- MacPherson strut and coil spring front, torsion beam rear with trailing arms and coil springs
- Brakes: front, ventilated discs, rear, solid discs
The Mini Cooper is every bit a driver’s car, but it’s no longer the cramped and noisy experience it once was. Sure the car is small - it’s a Mini - but, though compact, it's not claustrophobic; low to the ground but not impossible to extricate yourself from.
This first-time-ever four-(passenger)-door version of the Series 3 hatchback is part suburban family runabout, part rally car.
On the bends, under power it is sure- footed and stable. The traction control, braking and rack and pinion steering making light work of tight tight corners, and understeer, what understeer?
Though not brutally fast from a standing start, all three versions of the Cooper’s engine - the 1.5 litre petrol, 1.5 litre diesel and 2.0 litre petrol - are quick once rolling, their ample torque making a mockery of hilly terrain.
On straight roads the Cooper is quiet and fast, with a published top speed of over 230Km/h. (At 130km/h in 6th gear the base model variant of the car sits at round 2200 revs.)
At high speed it feels stable and extremely sure-footed, thanks to the low centre of gravity, fantastically well- balanced suspension and electro-mechanical power steering.
Steering this car around the steep and winding Adelaide hills was an impressive experience. Like a go-kart, but better (only because my memory of karting is littered with images of spin-outs and flying hay bales).
You’d be pushing this car mighty hard to get any of the Cooper 5-Door models spinning off a track. Before that happened, you’re far more likely to be turned into a two-dimensional object by the G-forces.
But despite this glued-to-the-road handling and firmly tied-down suspension, the rough road conditions we occasionally faced on our drive out to Murray Bridge offered little disturbance at the wheel.
ANCAP rating: The new Cooper has not been tested by ANCAP
- a strong, rigid body with clearly defined deformation zones
- a partially active bonnet that raises up slightly in the even of an accident to increase deformation space to help reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians.
- Six airbags - front and side, for driver and front passenger and full length side curtain –
- Three- point seatbelts for all five seating positions and two ISOFIX child restraint anchorages in the rear.
- Optional safety equipment includes head- up display, reversing camera, park asist with front park distance control, adaptive LED headlights and a comprehensive driving Assistant package.
- The Driving Assistant comprises a camera- based active cruise control and warning system that not only allows the MINI 5-Door to be set to maintain a specific distance from the car ahead, it also provides collision and pedestrian warnings with intial brake function and a high- beam assistant for the headlights.
- ABS, EBD, Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Fading Brake Support and a brake drying function.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Interior space and comfort are good. Road and engine noise is balanced between the need to hear the burble of the motor and exhaust when you push it, and quiet when tootling around the burbs.
On winding roads, the Cooper S with optional adjustable damper settings is quite astonishing, and the pick of the crop - no surprises there.
It’s fast and incredibly stable on road. There are very few cars that handle quite like this one.
Finally, while there's a bewildering array of optional extras, once you get settled on your ‘custom model’ the pain will have been worth it.
The Mini Cooper 5-Door can be optioned and customised in all manner or ways both inside and out, making it a versatile, distinctive and impressively fun-to-drive motoring experience.
MORE: MINI News & Reviews
PRICING (includes GST, excludes LCT and on-roads)
MINI One - $24,500
MINI Cooper - $26,650
MINI Cooper D - $31,800
MINI Cooper S - $36,950
MINI Cooper - $27,750
MINI Cooper D - $32,900
MINI Cooper S - $38,050