Some cars simply do not need any introduction. And the MINI is one such car. Cute hatchbacks, especially of the stylish and cool variety like the MINI, especially in this shade of red, is surely one of the reasons why we suffer from our affliction for cars in the first place. To look at the MINI simply amazes, to drive it thrills and to assess, well, that’s where things get rather interesting. Because even though the MINI is designed to thrill, BMW wants to extend its appeal further by making it more practical than before. And it’s done that by adding additional rear doors and increasing the car’s length by 160mm. So is this MINI a bit of a compromise or is it still a purist’s delight?
This is one of the most iconic car designs in the world and BMW did not tinker with the styling of the third generation car too much. The circular theme is extensively used and to good effect all across the MINI’s silhouette. The round head lamps get LED daytime strips at the bottom and that along with the big chrome surround around the grille give the MINI a cute Bull dog like face, which looks friendly and inviting as well. Of the extra 160mm length that the company has added 70mm has gone into the wheelbase, which means that the MINI looks a lot more rounded look.
Just like the exterior, the cabin is also circular in its design theme. The layout of the retro-themed dashboard looks rather cool and funky, and all the important controls are a cinch to operate. The huge dial in the centre of the dashboard is primarily the entertainment unit and has a light cluster around it. This light cluster keeps changing its shade, adding to the sense of drama.
The buttons inside the cabin are retro as well, the start/stop button is an old school toggle switch, just like an old aircrafts.
The seats offer good bolstering, especially around the sides, which means that when a driver pushes the car into a corner the seats will hold him well. Access to the rear is still a bit poor because the doors are small and the opening is a bit narrow. But the seats offer better room than the three door version. That said there is plenty of space in the boot and it is well shaped too, which means that the 278 litres capacity can be fully utilised.
Engine, performance and gearbox
It’s hard not to drive around the MINI without a smile on your face. The engine in the Cooper D we drove is a 1.5-litre unit with around 114bhp and 270Nm of torque. Power is transferred via a six-speed automatic gearbox. 0-100kph can be achieved in a claimed 9.2 seconds, which is brisk rather than outright quick. The best place to keep the engine is in between 2,000-4,000 rpm, where the truck loads of torque simply propel it forward without any fuss. The gearbox is quick as well and both upshifts as well as down shifts are brisk. Engine refinement is good too, considering it is a three-cylinder and not a four cylinder unit.
Ride and handling
The MINI’s appetite for sheer entertainment is limitless. The steering is crisp and quick as well. The suspension has a stiff edge to it, even in its softest setting but that adds to the fun for keen drivers. On anything less than smooth the MINI will be fidgety and the ride can be jarring on really bad patches of road. That said, handling is sublime and the MINI is a joy to throw into a corner. It is absolutely brilliant and gives you an experience of driving a go-kart.
Safety and equipment
Standard safety kit includes six airbags and ABS along with traction control, parking sensors as well as Bluetooth. In terms of equipment MINI offers you the choice to customise the car for an extra amount. So you can pay extra and get stuff like different alloy wheel and add stripes to the paintwork.
The Mini five-door is a practical, charming and hugely entertaining car to drive. It’s also huge on desirability, making it a great choice for anyone who loves driving and being noticed as well.