When it comes to small cars that deliver big on character, Mini’s three-door Hatch is pretty hard to beat. This Oxford-built supermini has been charming buyers for some time, with its raft of personalisation and fun driving experience earning it a loyal following.
But all good things require updating at some point and for the Mini, that time is now, with the British brand facelifting the car with a fresh new front end, including a larger grille, reworked front bumper and additional choice of alloy wheels and colours. There’s also more standard equipment than before, along with a new 8.8-inch touchscreen that uses new graphics and software.
However, given the current generation of Mini has been around since 2014, should this have been time for an all-new version, or can light updates breathe extra life into this hatchback? Let’s find out.
Mini ditched diesel three years ago with the last update, and though the Electric model is available – and is based on the three-door Hatch – the regular version remains available with a quartet of standard petrol engines.
Any Mini fans will be familiar with the range of options, with the One, Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works on offer, with power outputs ranging from 101bhp to 228bhp, all available with the choice of a manual or automatic gearboxes.
Our test car is the Cooper S, though, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit that produces 176bhp and 280Nm of torque, and a six-speed manual gearbox. It takes just 6.5 seconds to get from 0-60mph and will hit a top speed of 146mph. Yet it should also be relatively affordable to run, with Mini claiming it will return up to 45.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 140g/km.
Ride and handling
The Mini has always majored on fun, and that absolutely remains the case on this latest car. Its small dimensions, light weight, punchy performance and manual gearbox equate to an almost perfect hot hatch recipe, and even though the quicker John Cooper Works is available, we reckon this Cooper S delivers more than enough performance in most settings.
It’s not performance this is all about, though, but also fun-factor, with the Mini’s agility and responsiveness going a long way to making this one of the best small cars to drive on the market today. A new adaptive suspension system has also been introduced – fitted as standard to Sport models – which aims to take the firm edge off the ride thanks to its adjustable dampers. While it has improved things, the Mini remains quite firm, though never uncomfortable even on rougher surfaces.
Interior and equipment
When it comes to premium small cars, the Mini is pretty hard to beat, with BMW’s upmarket influence continuing to pay off here, bringing a well-built interior with superb ergonomics. It still retains some of the features of past cars, too, include the toggle-like switches and circular dashboard. It no longer houses the speedometer, but Mini’s large new 8.8-inch touchscreen, which can still be controlled by a rotary dial as well. The system is greatly improved, too, offering clearer graphics and a swifter response to inputs as well.
The area where the Mini continues to fall short, though, is spaciousness. While this is unlikely to be a priority for anyone buying one, it lags well behind rivals, especially in three door guise where the boot is tiny and rear seats are only really suitable for children. The five-door does fare slightly better, though.
In terms of equipment, three main trims are available here – Classic, Sport and Exclusive.
Even Classic models get a decent amount of kit, including full LED lighting, air conditioning, automatic lights and wipers and the new touchscreen system.
Sport models offer the most appeal to our eyes, though, adding 17-inch black alloy wheels, part Alcantara sports seats, cruise control and a styling kit from the John Cooper Works range. The Exclusive then aims to inject in a bit of extra flair with its striking 18-inch alloy wheels and full leather interior.
The updated Mini range starts from £16,800, which is actually quite competitive next to rivals, though if you want something with a bit more power or in a higher trim, prices rise quite significantly, with the Sport and Exclusive versions both costing from £21,500.
You also need to be careful of ticking too many option boxes because the extensive personalisation and options list can quickly rack up the price. In the case of our test car, it nearly tipped the scales over £30,000.
It shows just how appealing the Mini remains that relatively minor tweaks have kept it feeling as fresh and modern as ever, with the newer design and improved touchscreen certainly adding further to the package.
Like before, its downfalls are its price and interior space, but if you want something compact and fun, cool to look at and with a high-quality interior, it’s just about impossible to beat.Enquire on a new Mini