FIRST DRIVE: Mini 5-door hatch

FIRST DRIVE: Mini 5-door hatch

It’s a Mini Jim, but not as we know it.

Well, actually, it kind of is. But then it also kind of isn’t.

The Mini 5-door hatch treads the narrow ground between the 3-door hatch, the 5-door Countryman SUV and the even intrudes slightly on the Clubman’s territory by being similarly a-bit-longer and sort-of more spacious than the 3-door, but with extra doors.

However, while it may be slightly confusing, the Mini 5-door hatch is still based on the very good 3-door and should be every bit as good. We head over to Adelaide to find out if it is.

What is it?

Pretty much a 3-door Mini with two extra doors. Simple as that, right?

Except it isn’t actually quite that simple – while the Mini does gain two extra doors at the back, the extra length required to do this brings a range of other advantages to the hatch.

The overall length of the car is up 161mm over the new 3-door, while the wheelbase is up 72mm. This translates into 72mm more rear legroom and (somehow) 61mm more interior width (at elbow height), despite the exterior width being the same as the 3-door.

The other big advantage is the increase in boot size that the 5-door also boasts, up 67 litres over the 3-door to 278 litres.

As is to be expected, weight is also up over the 3-door, but not by as much as you might expect and the 5-door weighs 60kg more than its sibling with a lower door count.

The model range is the same as the 3-door line up, with the entry-level Cooper getting the brilliant 100kW/220Nm 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine and the Cooper S packing the 141kW/280Nm 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine. Both come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed auto is available for $3,000 (or $3,500 if you want wheel-mounted shift paddles in the Cooper S).

Specification too stays the same as the 3-door range, which can be found here.

Mini 5 Door (01)

What is it like?

Very much like the 3-door, which is a very good thing indeed.

The ride is impressive on the smaller-wheeled Cooper and, while the ride does become slightly more brittle on the larger alloy wheels, it is still never terrible.

The other side of this, however, is the thoroughly brilliant handling that is still largely intact with the addition of the extra doors.

The Mini remains a thrilling little car to chuck through the corners, regardless of engine choice, and the willingness with which it does it is every bit as charming as the 3-door hatch.

While it remains fantastic, that isn’t to say you don’t notice the extra length and weight – the longer wheelbase brings more stability to the rear, but then this also reduces the eager, playful feel of the car. Just slightly, mind you.

The extra doors add practicality, while the extra rear leg room actually makes the 5-door Mini useful for transporting more than children, midgets or amputees in the back.

The biggest problem with the rear, however, is access – while it is small, but surprisingly comfortable once you are in there, the rear access is rather difficult. It all comes down to rear door size, and the Mini’s simply isn’t big enough for someone of my size (6 foot 1inch) – the B-pillar intrudes on the bottom of the door opening, which made it extremely difficult to get my feet in. Yes, really – my feet were the problem…

While access was a problem for someone at the taller end of average, rear headroom was acceptable and visibility was excellent.

Mini 5 Door (05)

What’s good about it?

The fantastic engines are every bit as good in the 5-door, while the transmissions are also excellent.

The handling is still brilliant and the fun quotient is still massively high, despite the added practicality brought about by the extra length and doors.

Mini 5 Door (04)

What’s not so good?

The rear access is our only real gripe and this probably won’t be an issue for the smaller types that will be more likely to hop in and out of the back of a 5-door Mini anyway.

Mini 5 Door (02)

First impressions?

Every bit as impressive as the 3-door version, the 5-door hatch brings a dose of practicality to the Mini. Admittedly it is only a relatively small dose, but what it does do only adds to the Mini.

This means it is every bit as fun and stylish as the 3-door, while adding a small dash of the dreaded practicality.

The tiny amount of extra weight doesn’t add much (if anything) in the way of a penalty and the eager engines are more than capable of dealing with the tiny addition.

While the 5-door only adds $1,000 to the cost of the Mini, the basic price is still a fairly hefty one to begin with and if you want to add an automatic transmission… well, it does get a bit worrying. But then you have to pay a price for style and, after all, if people weren’t willing to pay those prices for a Mini, then they would stop buying them! But they don’t.

Overall, however, the 5-door Mini is a brilliant little piece of kit that manages to retain all the fun and eager handling of the 3-door in an ever-so-slightly bigger package.

Models/prices

Cooper – $37,200

Cooper S – $45,200

Powertrain

1.5-litre inline three-cylinder petrol turbo producing 100kW/220Nm; six-speed manual transmission; front-wheel drive (Cooper), 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol turbo producing 141kW/280Nm; six-speed manual transmission; front-wheel drive (Cooper S)

Fuel consumption: 4.2L/100km (Cooper – 4.3 auto), 6.0L/100km (Cooper S – 5.5 auto)

CO2 emissions: 114g/km (Cooper – 116 auto), 140g/km (Cooper S – 129 auto)

Safety

ANCAP/EuroNCAP rating: Not tested

Air bags: 6

Stability control: yes

Lap/diagonal belts: 5

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