What is it? The MINI 5-door hatch is the practical sibling to the familiar 3-door version.
Key features: Two extra doors, longer wheelbase, full engine range.
Our View: The MINI 5-door will sell in huge numbers to those who love the lifestyle image it projects.
The biggest criticism levelled at the MINI has always been its lack of rear seat space. In the latest hatch the designers claim to have addressed this, but the launch of a ‘proper’ five-door variant – appearing six months after the latest three-door – certainly makes accessing what rear seat space there is rather easier.
There are more basic reasons for this latest member of the seemingly ever-expanding MINI line-up. The supermini market in which this car competes is split 70/30 in favour of five-door cars over their three-door counterparts, and all of the MINI’s prime rivals – the Audi A1, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and VW Polo, sell far more five-door models than three-door.
There is, of course, already a MINI 5-door model available; the Countryman. But it appeals to a specialist, outdoor audience, and the new car is expected to have a much wider clientele – and a different one to the existing three-door. That car is seen as appealing mostly to single people or young couples, the new five-door to young families who need the extra practicality. It also gives MINI far more opportunities in the fleet sector – many company car buyers are forbidden from choosing three-door vehicles.
The car is not simply the existing shell with two extra apertures. The MINI 5-door measures up at 161mm longer than its sibling – at 3,982mm it’s actually longer than most of its mainstream rivals, so not that mini after all. It’s also 11mm taller than a regular three-door MINI, though of the same width.
Possibly the most crucial measurement, however is the wheelbase, which gains 72mm, freeing up vital interior space. And front and rear headroom are more than 50mm better than the Fiesta or Polo, with only the A1 coming close at 5mm less than the MINI’s 942mm.
The MINI 5-door is not quite so generous on bootspace. While the 278 litres is some 67 better than the three door’s it falls two litres short of the Polo,12 shy of the Fiesta.
Slipping inside the car it’s clear that rear space has improved, making this variant rather more practical than the three-door, but it’s still cosy in the back compared to more traditional superminis.
Of course neither this or the ‘stylishly fussy’ dash layout, which objective critics would describe as concerned more with form than function, will matter to the likely market for this car, as it will be bought simply because it is a MINI.
The five-door body is being made available right across the MINI range, so there is a six-strong choice of trims – One, Cooper and Cooper S, all in both petrol and diesel varieties – with power outputs ranging from 94 to 187bhp and both the One D and Cooper D models below the important 100g/k CO2 emissions barrier. All but the One variants are on sale from launch, the entry models following a couple of months later.
All the engines are three-cylinder units with the exception of the four-cylinder S variants, and all are familiar from the three-door MINI range. Our brief test drive singled out the Cooper D model, and it is unsurprisingly impressive, its quiet, smooth powerplant sending it through 62mph in 9.4 seconds while returning close to 80mpg official combined cycle fuel economy figures and emissions well into free road tax territory.
This is combined with a chassis long renowned for its precise, fun handling (wrongly dubbed ‘go-kart like’ by many). Adding the extra wheelbase length has not affected these qualities at all, and possibly one of the biggest plusses of this new MINi is that it is still very much a highly enjoyable car to drive enthusiastically – even before one starts delving into the driving aids available for the car.
In terms of price, every MINI 5-door is £600 more than its three-door equivalent, prices starting at £13,830 for the MINI One. The Cooper D we tried costs from £17,050, which might seem expensive for a supermini – and this is before one starts dipping into the extensive options list of BMW-derived technology and lifestyle-pitched personalisation.
As stated, however, the price won’t matter, because the MINI 5-door will sell in huge numbers, mainly to those who love the car and the lifestyle image it projects. Those that have driven three-door versions and have had to very reluctantly give them up when the children arrived, or those who have desired a MINI but simply not been able to consider a three-door with a cramped rear, will be queueing for this model.
MINI 5-door – key specifications
Model Tested: MINI 5-door Cooper
On Sale: October 2014
Range price: £13,830-£19,530
Insurance group: TBC
Engines: 1.2, 1.5, 2.0 petrol. 1.5 x2, 2.0 diesel
Power (bhp): 101, 135, 189 . 94/115, 167
Torque (lb/ft): 133, 162, 207. 162/199, 266
0-62mph (sec): TBC, 8.2, 6.9. TBC/9.4, 7.4
Top speed (mph): TBC, 129, 144 . TBC/126, 140
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): TBC, 60.1, 47.9. TBC/78.5, 68.9
CO2 emissions (g/km): TBC, 109, 139. TBC/95, 109
Key rivals: Audi A1, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo
Test Date: October 2014