The Mini Cooper has been stretched to include a five-door version. We find out whether a family sized model is stretching this sporty city car’s credibility.
Base price: $37,200.
Powertrain and performance: 1.5-litre petrol three-cylinder, 100kW/220Nm, 6-speed manual, front-drive, Combined economy 4.7 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 7.9 seconds.
Vital statistics: 3982mm long, 1425mm high, 2567mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 278-719 litres, fuel tank 40 litres, 15-inch alloy wheels on 175/65 tyres.
We like: Beautifully executed styling extension, perky three-pot powerplant, fun chassis.
We don’t like: Still not exactly spacious in the back, contrived design of cabin.
How it rates: 9/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? When we’re talking Mini, achieving something completely normal by any other standard turns out to be terribly controversial.
We’re talking about the Mini Cooper five-door. Now, a five-door supermini is nothing unusual. Quite the opposite. But the standard Mini – meaning that we discount oddities such as the Countryman, which is an SUV and based on another platform entirely – has been a two (roadster and coupe), three (hatch) and four (Clubman) door, but never a five.
The standard Mini has also always been quite small. Large by classic Mini standards, but still small compared with other cars in the segment.
The Cooper five-door changes all of that. It’s the first five-door Mini and at 3982mm long, it’s pretty much standard supermini size. About the same as a Toyota Yaris and a bit bigger than a Suzuki Swift.
So the burning question is: has the Mini finally sold out to the mainstream, or has parent company BMW simply made its small wonder a bit more practical?
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The Cooper five-door is on the same brand-new UKL1 platform as the latest hatchback model. In terms of mechanical specification and equipment it’s pretty much identical to the three-door, save another 72mm in the wheelbase and 161mm overall.
Our Cooper test car is the entry-level model, which means it’s powered by BMW’s oh-so-sweet 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. Mini fact: this powerplant is also used for the BMW 2-series Active Tourer (which rides on the Mini platform) and the exotic BMW i8 hybrid sports car.
Anyway, this powerplant is an absolute delight, especially when combined with the six-speed manual gearbox. It thrums away in eager fashion and provides the Cooper with impressive performance despite its tiny capacity: 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds is hardly hanging around, although the six-speed automatic is quicker still.
Theoretically, a longer wheelbase means a batter ride but less agile handling. Theoretically. Both are ostensibly true of the Mini five-door but in reality, BMW has ensured that there’s very little to choose between the two in real-world driving. The Cooper five-door is hugely entertaining on a winding road, like a Mini is supposed to be.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Well, this is the important bit. All of that 72mm in the wheelbase has gone into rear legroom, which means that the Cooper five-door is a proper four or (perhaps) five-seater. That’s not to say it’s spacious, but rather that the rear seat has gone from pointless in the three-door to having some sort of purpose in the five-door.
The boot is 30 percent larger than the hatch model, although still not cavernous at just 278 litres. The five-door does retain its smaller sibling’s practical features though, with a false floor in the boot that can be removed for more depth (you leave it in to get a flat load-through) and rear seatbacks that can be clicked forward to 90 degrees for a bit more bootspace, albeit at the cost of rear-seat comfort.
Up front, the five-door is exactly the same as any other Mini. So you get the goofy instruments and amusing interior lighting options (purple, anybody?), along with the grip-and-go steering wheel and gearlever. Contrived? Yes, as always. But at least it’s interesting.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? The Cooper five-door is exactly the same as the three-door from the A-pillar forwards. From there backwards, no attempt has been made to disguise the fact that this car has two extra doors and it’s all the better for it: this car retains all the visual charm you’d expect of a Mini.
In fact, the styling detail of the latest Mini range, such as the oversized headlights and ornate rear lamps, rather lends itself to something with a bit more visual substance. It’s a matter of taste, but you could argue that the five-door is actually cuter and more thoughtfully styled than its three-door sibling.
So the Mini five-door looks at least as good as the hatchback and there’s so little difference in performance and handling, it’s really not worth mentioning Yes, you should buy one.
- Blind spot warning: No
- Lane guidance: No
- Cruise control: Yes
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Parking radar: Yes
- Self-parking technology: No
- Head-up display: No
- Satellite navigation: No
- Keyless entry/start: No
- Stop-start: Yes
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Heated/ventilated seats: No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: No
- Leather upholstery: No
- Power boot or tailgate: No
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40
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