2.0L I4 TwinPower Turbo
189 HP @ 4,700-6,000
207 lb-ft @ 1,250
11.5/7.5 as tested
278 - 941L
If you don’t think that the the Mini Cooper is a cool car, stop reading right this moment. If you do, then you probably know that the Cooper S version is also quick, fun and holds its value really well. On the down side, it is also very limited in space and as such, not very practical right? Well, not quite, as now, there is a new one with two extra doors and the extra space to make it more usable than ever!
The latest addition to the Mini family is perhaps the most sensible one yet, and it is no other than the regular hatch with two extra doors. The Mini 5-door, is of course a little longer than the regular 3-door hatch, but it is for that very reason it comes with usable rear seats and a much larger trunk! In fact, I believe the manufacturer’s way of putting it captures the essence of the release; “Two extra handles, the same go-kart handling”.
You’d have to stare at one for a fair amount of time till you go “ahhhh” and realize that this model has rear doors. Most importantly, forget about noticing the difference in size unless it is parked alongside a 3-door. It has the same googly eyes, sleek retro design reference to the original Mini but still manages to look cute despite the rounded edges and thicker details. Everything has grown on this car and by that we also mean its character.
Inside the cabin, the materials have been improved dramatically (compared to the previous gen 3-door), while retaining the excellent fit and finish. The design is a little more user friendly, especially when it comes to the instrument cluster, which is now more complete and readable. At this point, take special note that having heads-up-display in a Mini, can only be brilliant! The centre round large dial (actually it is not a dial any more) is home to some fancy lighting that reacts to your inputs adding a visual effect to everything you do. For example, while adjusting the temperature of the climate control, the lights around the circle resemble the blue (cold) to red (hot) pattern of the temperature control switch and a white mark follows your adjustment. Also, adjusting the volume of the amazing sound system, the higher the volume, the more lights light up; really cool stuff! The instrument cluster has other great details too, like a shift indicator and a “green guide” which helps you understand how many extra kilometers you ‘ve gained by driving smoothly in “Green mode”.
The infotainment system is the most comprehensive system in the segment, and together with the i-drive touch sensitive controller, it really is easy and intuitive to use. The number of features available go way beyond the conventional Bluetooth and voice commands and best of all is the quickness with which it responds. It does belong to the list of optional extras, but this tester vehicle was equipped just the way one should buy it.
The base price for the 2015 Mini Cooper S 5-door is $26,740 while our test vehicle was $34,330 as it featured leather sport seats, Dynamic Damper Control, keyless entry, automatic wipers and headlights, automatic climate control, panorama sunroof, heated front seats, LED headlights, front (LED) and rear fog lights, navigation, Bluetooth and USB port, 8″ screen with touch controller, rear view camera, park assist, head-up-display, bonnet stripes and a kick ass Harman Kardon sound system.
The driving position can be perfect as long as you spend more than one minute adjusting your seat, steering and mirrors and at that point you’ll realize that this Mini has grown up. You can see all mirrors perfectly, visibility is great and it does feel like an upmarket vehicle, even before you flick the start button. The sport seats support the body really well, and the panoramic sunroof is totally at home on a Mini’s roof, allowing tons of light inside creating a very positive atmosphere. The awesome thing about this version is that you can get out of the driver’s seat, open the back door and have a seat behind where you were seconds ago; easily and without having to assume the “sardine in the tin” position. If you are not over 6ft tall, you’ll start laughing nervously being unable to believe that you can sit behind your regular driving position with no problems at all, in a Mini! A third person will probably not fit equally well, as the centre tunnel is home to a cup holder and works kind of as a divider, which in turn prevents decent legroom for the brave third passenger that would otherwise attempt to squeeze in. The width is a limiting factor as well, unfortunately.
The extra seating space in the back is not the end of the story with the 5-door version; pop the trunk open and voila, 278 L of space are waiting for your baggage! That is a very significant increase Vs the 211 L available in the 3-door.
There are three driving modes the car can be set to; Green, Mid and Sport. Green mode makes the throttle response slow and sets the A/C to low, saving as much fuel as possible. A side effect to that is that it turns the 6-speed manual car into a very easy car to drive, eliminating all jerkiness. In Mid mode, things get quite lively, but set the mode to sport, and you’ll be presented with a little go-kart as a symbol of what the chassis mode has been set to, and if you are wondering what sort of an impact the extra doors have on the handling the answer is; none. The 5-door remains as fun as the 3-door, despite being slightly heavier and longer. The steering has a good amount of weight to it and it returns good feedback, making the drive as engaging as it should be in a Cooper S. The term “Go-Kart Handling” is a bit cliché, but as a front-wheel-drive Go-Kart, the Mini does a marvelous job sticking to the road and taking corners at speeds way over the legal limits. Confidently too, you’ll need to pay special attention not to get caught speeding in this pocket rocket as it does gather speed very quickly. Especially in sport mode, it literally flies!
For that you can blame the very smooth and new in the Mini lineup 2.0L TwinPower (Twin Scroll) Turbo engine pushing out 189 HP and 207 lb-ft of torque. Working against just 1,313 kg and mated to a near perfect 6-speed manual transmission, performance is brisk and very well suited to the rigid chassis. From a standstill, it will hit 100km/h in just 6.9″ while the top speed is limited to just above 230km/h. The all-around independent suspension works very well and the dynamic damper control tweaks the settings just enough when set to sport. It will never feel like a magic carpet but having grown up comes with adequate comfort at all times. In sport mode, and with the go-kart icon present, the 5-door Mini is 99% similar to the smaller hatch. Crisp steering, ready to bite brakes, a fade resistant clutch and a precise shifter are all up to the job which is no other than driving enjoyment. This car is playful and enjoys going quickly no matter the route. Back twisty roads are for sure second nature to this vehicle, it is the way it turns in and holds its grounds through the bends that give it the nickname “go-kart”. Shifting through gears comes with a very growly exhaust note and the whole thing is just never ending fun. The smile won’t be whipped off your face even when you stop to refuel, as during our week of sporty driving found us averaging just 9.5lt/100km in temperatures as cold as -20C. Too bad the Auto Start Stop system does not work when it is that cold, but the reasoning behind it as pretty much understandable.
The Mini is a great car, no matter if it is a Cooper or a Cooper S, a 3-door or a 5-door. Adding the two extra doors though, adds points to practicality and space, which realistically, were the only two areas the hatch had trouble scoring. As such, it is safe to conclude that this is the best “all round” Mini ever.
Attention to detail
Start/Stop doesn't work in cold weather.