Mini Hatch hatchback (2018 - ) review
The Mini Hatch is a small hatchback with a very well-recognised name and look, and rivals cars like the Fiat 500, Audi A1 and Volkswagen Polo.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
Small cars should be about style, fun, quality and practicality. The Mini hatch offers the first three traits in spades and is bursting with character and although it can't match some rivals for the latter, it’s still got buckets of charm and capability. We're not surprised it won the Most Fun Car to Drive award in the 2019 Auto Trader New Car Awards.
- Iconic image
- Class-leading interior
- Big-car technology
- Limited bootspace
- Tight rear legroom
- Reliability question marks
Interested in buying a MINI Hatch?
How good does it look?
This version of the Mini Hatch is a lightly facelifted incarnation of the car released in 2015. But Mini knows when it’s onto a good thing when it comes to looks, and so the changes to the 1960s-inspired looks have been very minimal over the years. The headlight design has been tweaked with full LED brightness, and the rear lights now have a Union Flag design in them. Make of that what you will.
The Hatch comes in both three and five-door versions, and in several different versions. Each engine choice is associated with a different name – One, Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works – while the three trims are Classic, Sport and Exclusive, all though not all trims are available with every engine choice. It might sound a bit confusing, but it means plenty of choice, and that’s before you get to the extensive personalisation options.
Every version comes with LED headlights and alloy wheels, with the exception of the One Classic, which rides on steel wheels. The Cooper Classic gets 15-inch wheels, and the Cooper S 16-inch versions. Opt for the Sport model and you’ll get some 17-inch alloy wheels and a bodykit with a spoiler, while the Exclusive has trim-specific 17-inch wheels and some extra chrome bits. The John Cooper Works performance model has 17-inch alloys and a lowered suspension system, as well as larger brakes with red calipers.
What's the interior like?
When it comes to small-car interiors, choice, quality and texture matter. Mini understands this and has presented a cabin that’s brimming with character. The soft-touch dashboard feels high in quality and can be specced in a variety of colours, while the colour of the interior lighting can be changed on the move to alter the cabin’s ambience. Plus, items like the chrome toggle switches and plectrum-shaped starter button cleverly combine the ornamental with the useful.
Ergonomics are good, too, with a large circular console housing the 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a paired speedo and rev counter arrangement mounted above the steering wheel and the buttons for the electric windows and lights being placed in intuitive locations. There are still a few idiosyncrasies, though; the dial controller for the optional infotainment system is positioned next to the handbrake and so requires nimble fingers, while the fog light buttons are positioned out of view beneath the steering wheel.
How practical is it?
Practicality is not a strong point of the Mini Hatch. Although the space up front feels surprisingly generous, accessing the rear pair of chairs on the three-door model requires the deft precision of a small circus performer. Once you’re in, though, the space you get is ok, but the 211-litre boot is on the small side. You’ll be able to squeeze two items of carry-on cabin luggage in there, plus a handbag, but that's about it. That said, the rear chairs fold flat with a 60:40 split. Five-door models get a slightly larger boot, at 278 litres, although it’s still far from cavernous.
What's it like to drive?
We’ve tried the Cooper S and Cooper D, with both versions offering the fun, playful handling characteristics that are synonymous with the Mini brand, albeit with an unexpected layer of maturity. The Cooper D demonstrates fine body control through corners and maintains an impressive level of cabin refinement over all manner of road surfaces. The stiffer Cooper S may be a bit bumpier at slower speeds, but things settle down a lot more at higher speeds, making it a surprisingly stable and comfortable long-distance companion, while still being great fun in the twisties. There’s also the option of an adaptive suspension that lets you soften things off when you’re in the mood for comfort rather than fun. But make no mistake: it is a lot of fun. So much so that it was voted Most Fun Car to Drive in our 2019 New Car Awards.
How powerful is it?
So far, we've tried the 2.0-litre petrol-powered S, which delivers 192 horsepower. It gives the car every ounce of fizz-factor that we’ve come to expect from S-designated Minis, because acceleration is strong, smooth and readily available. There’s even more sparkle when you select the Sport driving mode due to sharper throttle responses, and you’re also treated to a slightly meaner temperament, including a few pops and bangs from the exhaust.
The Cooper D is also an absolute peach. It only produces 150 horsepower, but it’s flexible, free-revving, creamy smooth and impressively hushed. What’s more, it pulls really strongly and feels a whole lot more powerful than its relatively modest output suggests. Unfortunately, if you want one, you’ll have to look at the second-hand market, as Mini stopped selling the Cooper D in the UK in early 2019.
Other petrol engine choices are the 1.5-litre, 102-horsepower unit found in the Mini One, a 136-horsepower version found in the Mini Cooper and the 231-horsepower version of the 2.0-litre engine in the John Cooper Works model.
Fans of automatic gearboxes can specify a seven-speed twin-clutch number, while the John Cooper Works can be had with an eight-speeder. Both could be smoother (the former is better than the latter on that score) and have a strange reluctance to change down as you pull up to a standstill, causing some shudders through the car, but otherwise, they swap around their gears quickly and effectively. Even so, unless you really can’t bear the thought of pumping a clutch pedal, we’d stick with sweet-shifting manual six-speeder; its short-throw-action and precise weighting are beautifully synchronised and wonderfully engaging.
How much will it cost me?
The Mini Hatch is not a cheap car, and the costs will rise sharply as you add options. Depending on which version you go for, its rivals can range from Fiat’s 500 to the sharper Abarth 595 or 695, Volkswagen’s Polo or Audi’s A1. The Mini has the advantage of relatively affordable service, maintenance and repair versus these rivals, and it should hold its value well too, which will go some way to offset the initial outlay.
How reliable is it?
Mini does not have a great reputation for reliability, with JD Power’s 2018 Vehicle Dependability Study placing it towards the bottom of the manufacturer rankings, with a below average score. Should anything go wrong with your hatch, Mini offers a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
How safe is it?
The Mini Hatch was crash tested by safety organisation Euro NCAP back in 2014 and scored a slightly disappointing four out of five stars. That’s not on its own a bad performance, but most of its rivals scored the full five. In addition, the criteria for scoring well in the tests have moved on in the years since. All cars come with six airbags and Isofix child seat attachment points in both the rear seats and the front passenger seat, but more modern safety technologies like automatic emergency braking aren’t available.
How much equipment do I get?
One of the Mini’s main attractions is the amount of personalisation options, if you’re speccing up your new Hatch then make sure you set aside plenty of time to decide exactly what you’d like. The Classic trim includes standard cloth-covered seats in the One and Cooper and sports seats on the Cooper S, while the Sport model gets special sports seats, cruise control and sport suspension if you want it as a no-cost option. Exclusive models get leather sports seats.
On top of this, there are plenty of paint and interior colours to choose from and options that range from bonnet stripes to different coloured roofs and wheel designs. There are several packs available two, such as the Comfort Pack (including automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors), Comfort Plus Pack (reversing camera, front parking sensors) and a couple of Navigation Packs, which you’ll need if you want sat-nav or Apple CarPlay.
Overall, there’s plenty of scope to kit out your Mini exactly how you want it, but be prepared for the price to quickly rise as you do it.
Look beyond the hype, and you’ll discover in the Mini Hatch a car that’s great to drive and has plenty of substance to back up the style. It’s quirky, it’s got an iconic name and you can have it tailored to your own specifications. No wonder it continues to sell well.