It’s safe to say that the Mini Hatch is one of the most iconic British models around – with the recognisable styling still in use to this day. Yes, BMW is now in charge of the famous moniker, but the throwback look remains with modernising tweaks.
Now in its third generation, the BMW-built Hatch has received a mid-life update – with the 2018 refresh giving the Mini a mild design revision and a range of new features.
The Mini is well-known for offering go-kart-like handling and this new model is set to continue that with only minor fine-tuning taking place on the chassis.
But with the premium hatchback market now featuring some quality rivals, such as the Mercedes A-Class and Audi A1, can the Mini maintain its popularity with this updated edition? We take a look…
All of the engines offered on the Mini 3dr are petrol – ranging from the 100bhp One, up to the Cooper S that develops 189bhp. We got behind the wheel of the most powerful version of the 3dr, which here was paired to a six-speed manual gearbox – although a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is also available. Alongside the 189bhp power figure, the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit develops 300Nm of torque to help get the car from 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds and go on to a top speed of 146mph.
With a lot of low- and mid-range torque thanks to the engine’s turbocharging, getting up to speed won’t be an issue – and to make gear changes that bit smoother, the six-speed manual comes with rev-matching when in ‘Sport’ mode.
Ride & Handling
The Hatch has built a reputation on being one of the best hatchbacks to drive, and this continues through the mid-life update. It has plenty of grip so it sticks to the road when cornering hard and on our test model, the stiff suspension meant that the Hatch cornered with next-to-no body roll.
It also comes with well-weighted steering that provides plenty of feedback – meaning that having fun in the Hatch won’t be difficult to achieve and the go-kart feeling that Mini trades on really shines through. The stiffer suspension does mean a less-than-comfortable ride over longer journeys and road imperfections do translate into the cabin – although rather than going through potholes, it bounces over them due to the shorter wheelbase.
Interior & Equipment
To match the retro exterior, the interior comes with a more conventional layout with buttons and switches used instead of touch-sensitive panels and an analogue gauge cluster that moves with the steering wheel. The infotainment screen looks a bit small in its circular housing – which lights up depending on which driving mode you’re in.
As a hatchback, the interior isn’t the most spacious and you’ll find rear passenger and storage space isn’t the best. You will fit taller people in the back, but long journeys are to be avoided if you do. This car isn’t built to be used by families and the 211-litre boot confirms that – although it can be extended to 731 litres when the rear seats are folded down.
Mini has recently simplified its trim line-up and equipment offerings due to WLTP emissions regulations that were recently introduced, so now customers can choose from the Classic, Sport and Exclusive options. The Classic is the entry-level option and features the bare essentials, such as air conditioning, a DAB radio, LED foglights, 6.5-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, cloth upholstery and ambient lighting.
The Cooper S engine is available to the Sport and Exclusive models, with the Sport model we tried coming with John Cooper Works features, such as an aerodynamic bodykit, sports suspension, bucket seats and sporty alloys – making it the best-looking Mini going.
Considering the amount of equipment fitted as standard, the 3dr Hatch starts from £16,190 – which undercuts other top-end hatchbacks and puts it in the mid-ground between the likes of the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Polo. The Cooper S Sport we tried starts from £20,230, which again comes in under the price of key rivals. You have to be wary of equipment packs, which can drive the price of the model up significantly.
Even with the more powerful Cooper S engine fitted, the Hatch can return a quoted 54.3mpg and 119g/km CO2 – which isn’t bad considering it comes with plenty of performance.
The fact that the update hasn’t really changed the Mini is a good thing, as the pre-facelifted model didn’t need much changing. The update has given it the required modernisation and, thankfully, it still feels like one of the best hatchbacks to drive as it is as accomplished out of town as it is in it. Although equipment packs can make the price seriously spiral, the Cooper S is an excellent hot hatch choice and helps the Hatch maintain its status as a quality small car.