MINI Hatchback (2014 -) Comfort

Review by Keith Jones on
Last Updated: 16 Mar 2015
4.5
If you think the all-new MINI Hatch looks remarkably like the previous one, then you’re not alone, although this one is completely new from the ground up. Larger but still MINI Bigger in every external direction, the new three-door Hatch will spawn a wide variety of models, including replacements for the current derivatives with the addition of a five-door hatchback.

4 out of 5

Comfort

It may sound surprising for a small car with a sporty focus but MINI Hatch comfort levels have improved significantly over its predecessor.

Taking advantage of the expanded exterior dimensions, the interior is larger than before too, but only those in the front will notice any real difference. The seats are larger, lower set and more comfortable – even the Cooper S’ sports items feel supportive after a long journey.

The seats also offer a greater range of adjustment, slide and tilt with greater ease to allow better access to the back and if you’re prepared to spend extra (as many MINI customers do) they can be trimmed in leather and heated too.

Climb into the back of the three-door model and you’ll see the previous MINI’s weakness has barely been addressed; it’s really only comfortable for children and adults who happen to be contortionists. That's partly due to rear headroom being marginally reduced thanks to the tapering roofline.

There’s a bit more space in the five-door though, thanks to its longer wheelbase. In the three-door model the rear seat is shaped for two only with a raised bolster in the middle of the seat base and no middle seatbelt but the five-door is a genuine (if slightly cramped) five-seater.

Not only is the latest MINI Hatch quieter inside, the lighter and revised suspension actually makes it a comfortable companion on longer commutes too. Forget the bounciness of previous MINIs, the latest Hatch feels planted and compliant when you need it to be.

Mood lighting is a feature carried over from the previous model and is complemented by the multi-coloured LED ring around the central instrument display. Its colour varies depending on a number of functions, but it can pulsate in relation to the beat of the music being played for example.

With a noticeable increase in build quality, overall refinement is improved, making the MINI a more pleasant place in which to travel. With a raft of new driving aids, the stress of driving is also reduced – just tick the right option boxes to specify yours with adaptive cruise control and an automatic parallel parking system.

3 out of 5

Practicality

If you’re considering buying a car like this because of its carrying capacity then you’ve misunderstood the notion of MINI Hatch practicality.

Naturally the most practical choice is the five-door model, which joined the range towards the end of 2014. It’s a five-seater (the three-door MINI will sit four people only) and can carry more luggage, too: the three-door’s boot measures only 211 litres with the seats up and 731 with them folded down, while the five-door model’s extra overall length allows for 278 litres seats up and 941 seats down.

The back doors are short which makes getting in and out quite hard work but once you’re in legroom is as good as most small cars and headroom is fine for all but the tallest of passengers. Those stubby rear doors might make accessing child seats tricky, though. Although you can fit three people across the rear seat bench it’s a tight squeeze.

The three-door is a small car, despite it being 98mm bigger than the outgoing hatch, and is really designed as a car for singletons and couples, rather than as an out and out small familiar car. While the original Mini’s mantra may have been to maximise interior space for the smallest physical dimension, it isn’t true of the latest car.

However, it’s not all bad news as while the MINI Hatch’s ability to carry four adults in comfort remains in doubt, the extra space liberated inside is good for the car’s flexibility. Even though the rear seat is only shaped for two in the three-door version, it now splits 60:40 rather than 50:50. In everyday terms this means that it’s now possible to use the MINI as a three-seater and carry wider items than before through from the boot area, such as a push chair.

If you spec the optional moveable boot floor it can be set at two different heights or hinged forwards to rest against the back of the rear seats. In the three-door that makes for a deep (thank the lack of a spare wheel) but still relatively short boot.

Get a MINI Hatchback valuation

How does the boot space compare?

270 litres
MINI Hatchback (14 on)
211 litres
210 litres
185 litres
4.5 out of 5

Behind the wheel

At first glance the latest MINI Hatch interior looks fairly similar to the outgoing model, but look closer and prod and poke the materials and you’ll appreciate the changes.

Not only is there a higher level of fit and finish with improved materials, but the interior’s more ergonomically sound too. Window switches move from the lower console toggles up to the doors themselves, for instance.

The toggles haven’t disappeared though and still house the switches for the traction control system, automatic stop/start and delightfully retro starter button, finished in a deep red hue.

What has (finally) disappeared is the central speedometer. Purists might lament its demise but let’s not forget the original Mini started having its central speedometer phased out in 1969!

The fact is it was difficult to read and by placing it in a pod directly behind the steering wheel, it’s much easier to read. It’s flanked by a semi-circular rev counter on the left and a series of LEDs to represent the fuel gauge on the right – we would have preferred to see a conventional dial mirroring the rev counter though.

There is still a circular display in the centre of the dash for the infotainment readouts, framed by a multi-coloured LED ring. The display itself ranges from a four-line digital display in its basic form, all the way up to an 8.8-inch full colour LCD screen with sat-nav. It’s controlled by two different versions of MINI’s interpretation of BMW’s iDrive rotary controller. It’s intuitive to use, but feels low-set down behind the gear lever.

That LED frame glows different colours depending on various functions or selected programmes too. For example, where parking sensors are fitted the ring changes from green, to amber, to red depending on your proximity to an obstacle. Alter the temperature of the climate control and the ring changes from blue to red depending on whether it’s getting cooler or warmer.