New doors opening to stretch MINI adventure

PUBLISHED: 07:55 01 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:37 19 January 2015

First ever five-door MINI Cooper hatchback can also seat five people.

First ever five-door MINI Cooper hatchback can also seat five people.


Motoring editor Andy Russell enjoys a short stretch in the five-door MINI Hatch – a more practical model that also grows on you.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get your head round change even if you see the benefits – that’s the case with the first five-door MINI Hatchback.

It’s not the first five-door MINI – that accolade goes to the popular Countryman with its chunkier sport utility vehicle-inspired styling. But, apart from two back doors, what they have in common is providing a more practical package that MINI owners can grow into, and so stay part of the family, and also woo new people to the brand.

The five-door Hatch is 161mm longer and 11mm taller than its three-door sibling so boosting boot space and, with an extra 72mm between the front and rear wheels, legroom in the back.

To an owner of both the original classic Mini and the reborn range, the ‘stretched’ five-door model looks a little ungainly at first, almost too long to be a MINI, but it grew on me the longer I lived with it and came to appreciate its extra practicality and room inside.

MINI Cooper Hatchback five-door

■ Price: MINI Cooper 1.5 D five-door £17,050 (range from £14,350)

■ Engine: 1,496cc, 116hp, three-cylinder turbo diesel

■ Performance: 0-62mph 9.4 seconds; top speed 126mph

■ MPG: Urban 64.2; extra urban 88.3; combined 78.5

■ CO2 emissions: 95g/km

■ Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 15%

■ Insurance group: 17 (out of 50)

■ Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

■ Will it fit in the garage? Length 3,982mm; width 1,932mm (including door mirrors) ; height 1,425mm

Squeezing four doors into what is still a relatively compact car is no mean feat so don’t expect huge openings, especially the back ones, but getting in and out is not an issue unless you forget to duck your head – after catching the top of mine on the top of the door frame for the sixth time I learned. I didn’t have much thatch on top to start with and even less now!

This five-door Hatch can accommodate adults front and rear, provided those up front aren’t greedy with legroom, and even six-footers could put up with travelling in the back. There’s now also a central rear seat, making the five-door version a five-seater, but three adults across the back might be cosy but it’s fine for children.

The boot has also grown by 67 litres to 278 with a removable boot floor which sits at sill level, to give useful storage beneath, or cleverly folds upright and clips behind the 60/40 split rear seat back when not in use. Cargo space rises to 719 litres with the rear seat backs laid flat

The third-generation MINI gets a range of efficient new, small-capacity turbo engines.

On the petrol front there are three-cylinder 102hp 1.2-litre and 136hp 1.5-litre and four-cylinder 192hp 2.0-litre units while diesel offerings are three-cylinder 95hp and 116hp 1.5-litre and four-cylinder 170hp 2.0-litre engines.

The more powerful three-cylinder diesel – the heart of the Cooper D model – will be a popular choice when it comes to combining performance with economy.

With its small capacity, it needs a few revs before it picks up cleanly but, once in the mid range, has punchy response to give sufficient acceleration for safe, swift overtaking. Make use of the standard six-speed manual gearbox to keep the engine singing at higher revs, accompanied by a pleasantly sporty and distinctive three-cylinder engine note without sacrificing refinement, and the Cooper D is really quite brisk and eager enough to be a thoroughly entertaining drive on twisty roads. Even with some hard driving it was averaging 55mpg, ease back on the throttle and it rose to more than 60mpg overall in mixed, real-world motoring.

If you don’t do the miles to justify a diesel, the new 1.5-litre petrol unit in the Cooper is also a fine choice with 45 to 50mpg overall and strong, flexible performance.

Despite being bigger, the five-door Hatch has not lost MINI’s renowned go-kart feel but what you really notice about the third-generation range is how much better the ride quality is. I took the opportunity to drive the same roads in this new model and my second-generation car and the latest version is so much smoother and more refined. And that longer wheelbase, which gives a bigger ‘footprint’ on the road, also benefits the hugely entertaining handling with an agile, well-planted feel.

I like the way the traditional MINI fascia has evolved to be more user-friendly. The speedo is now behind the steering wheel, with a crescent rev counter, while the big round central screen now displays information for the infotainment system and satellite navigation where fitted. Electric window switches are now on the doors rather than low down on the centre console – so much more sensible.

And that’s the story of the five-door MINI Hatch – a sensible alternative you can also grow into if you need more space and versatility.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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