MINI Cooper 5-Door Hatch 2018

The most popular model in the MINI range.

While some automotive anoraks thought that sticking a couple of additional doors to the MINI Hatch’s shape in 2014, was heresy, it has proven to be popular in showrooms. Just under half of MINI Hatch models departing dealerships are five-door variants, symptomatic of an industry inclination for more accessibility and practicality in family motors.

The 136PS Cooper is one of the most popular models in the MINI range, so I chose to drive the car many punters will eventually lease or buy. 

Alterations for 2018 are mainly skin-deep, though the new MINI does possess extra spec, such as factory-fitted LED taillights and headlights. If you tick the options list you can also have LED matrix lights, and the fresh MINI houses modernised infotainment and connectivity. Additionally, there’s an up-to-the-minute seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission possibility.

MINI claims it has worked like a dog on areas of the new car’s powerplant, too. In the case of the Cooper, the little lump is now lighter due to carbon-fibre strengthened plastic covers. The automaker has also changed the engine management, exhaust, and cooling system to extricate a bit of added excitement and alertness. 

Behind the wheel, things aren’t that much different. And that’s a good thing. This is because the Oxfordshire-made supermini is one of the finest handlers, with a focus on agility. The steering is enjoyably swift on bendy bitumen, but it’s not the best car for motorway commutes. The turbo-powered 1.5-litre engine doesn’t punch quite as much as you’d expect, so you need to activate Sport mode to sweet-talk the MINI into exhilarating you.

Ride-wise, my test vehicle came kitted-out with adaptive suspension, stiffening things up agreeably in Sport setting. However, the ride is still marginally harder than the opposition at slower speeds, even when put into its most charitable set-up.
In the cockpit, nothing much has changed apart from a fresh steering wheel, so the excellent, retro-cum-space-age dash stays put for now. Furthermore, all MINIs come furnished with no less than a 6.5-inch infotainment display, which can be enhanced to a bigger 8.8-inch touchscreen. You can also specify sat nav. The infotainment system is derived from the iDrive system that BMW uses, so it’s uncomplicated to control. What’s more, the screen quality on the 8.8-inch unit is awesome.

The five-door MINI is perched on a wheelbase that’s 72mm lengthier than the more traditional three-door version, so room in the rear comes up as good - but not exceptional - for the supermini segment.
It would be simple to think that the five-door MINI Cooper would demand quite a lot more dosh compared with comparable contenders, but that’s not entirely correct. While the options needed to infuse it with a bit of hard-hitting charm send the list price skywards, the base cost of the MINI Cooper tiptoes in marginally cheaper than Ford’s five-door Fiesta ST-Line. It’s only a tad more on a monthly Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) contract too, depending on the deposit you put down.

Pros ‘n’ Cons
  • Looks √
  • Equipment √
  • Handling √
  • Value-for-money √
  • Motorway performance X
Fast Facts (2018 MINI Cooper 5-Door Hatch – as tested)
  • Max speed: 129 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.2 secs
  • Combined mpg: 55.4
  • Engine layout: 1499cc three-cylinder petrol turbo
  • Max. power (PS): 136
  • CO2: 120 g/km          
  • Price: £18,040
Written by motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay.
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