MINI Hatchback (2014 -) Driving & Performance

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.

4.5 out of 5

Performance

Due to advances in turbocharging technology, MINI Hatch performance is improved model-for-model over the outgoing range.

Petrol engine range

Choose the petrol-engined One and the entry-level MINI Hatch has a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with 101bhp and 180Nm of torque available from 1,400rpm. It’s a sprightly performer, topping 121mph and reaching 62mph in 9.9 seconds.

Efficiency isn’t compromised though, with a claimed average fuel consumption of 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 108g/km.

Opt for the Cooper, with its 134bhp 1.5-litre motor and you’ll find a capable, sporty performer. With 220Nm of torque from just 1,250rpm it'll sprint from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds before going onto a top speed of 130mph.

Remarkably it’s more efficient than the One, with claims of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 105g/km.

Topping the range is the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre Cooper S. Packing 189bhp and 280Nm at 1,250rpm into a small car is always going to produce rapid results: accelerating from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds before achieving a top speed of 146mph confirms this, and it feels eager on the road too.

Positively, efficiency doesn’t suffer chronically in the process, MINI claiming the Cooper S will achieve 49.6mpg with emissions of 133g/km.

Diesel derivatives

Initially you'll only be able to have a diesel engined One or Cooper, their engines matching the petrol versions in size and cylinder count.

With 94bhp but 220Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, the 1.2-litre One D is the slowest but most efficient member of the MINI Hatch range. Although an 11 second 0-62mph time sounds a little pedestrian, it’s likely to suit many and its 118mph top speed is essentially academic anyway.

What impresses more is the One D’s claim of 83.1mpg and CO2 emissions of just 89g/km.

The 1.5-litre Cooper D is arguably the pick of the range at launch. Its refined and flexible powerplant delivers 114bhp and 270Nm of torque at 1,750rpm, meaning it'll complete the 0-62mph test in 9.2 seconds with a top speed of 127mph.

Despite this real world pace, MINI claims the Cooper D will still achieve 80.7mpg with CO2 emissions of just 92g/km.

All MINIs are fitted as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, which automatically blips the throttle on downshifts.

Automatic transmission is optionally available on all versions except the One D. On the Cooper S, a sports automatic gearbox is offered, providing quicker changes between the six ratios and further involvement with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

4.5 out of 5

Handling

A significant selling point for the car is how well MINI Hatch handling compares to both the competition and the model it replaces.

There’s no doubt the new car still handles well, but equally there’s no escaping the fact it’s matured too with greater evidence of comfort and refinement than previous iterations of the new MINI. It’s not bad, just different.

Part of the reason is the MINI’s expanded size. As well as a 28mm stretch in the wheelbase, the tracks (the width between the wheels on either side of the car) have also been increased by 42mm at the front and 34mm at the rear. Consequently it feels more stable, especially on motorway jaunts.

MINI has fitted the latest Hatch with lighter and revised suspension which is says promotes both agility and responsiveness. It remains nimble and accurate, yet also more refined than the outgoing Hatch range. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – the ride comfort, especially on smaller wheels is less harsh, while on larger rims (up to 18 inches) it’s noticeably firmer without feeling like it crashes over every bump and undulation.

Drive the Cooper S and those sensations are amplified further – it’s noticeably firmer than the mid-spec Cooper but again feels like a larger, better engineered sports hatchback rather than a light and chuckable MINI of old.

Some may lament the steering though. It’s still sharply accurate and when switching off the traction control, the MINI remains very precise in its cornering, gripping with impressive tenacity. But although the steering weights up progressively, it’s not as communicative as enthusiastic drivers may hope for.

These things are relative of course – the MINI Hatch’s steering is impressively engineered and it puts many other sporty hatchbacks to shame, but it’s true that others offer a greater degree of feel.

With a twinge of self-deprecating humour, the optional adjustable driving modes make reference to the MINI’s fabled go-kart-like agility. Three modes are available: ‘Green’ which promotes fuel efficiency and encourages early upchanges, ‘Mid’ which is your everyday selection and ‘Sport’ for (and quoting the display itself) “Maximum go-kart feel.” There’s a noticeable change between the settings too, ‘Sport’ providing decidedly more fun than the other settings.