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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5

Available new from £16,605

It may be a familiar sight on our roads but the Mini Hatch remains a distinctive choice when compared with more conventional superminis. After detail changes in 2018, this 2021 model year update tidies up the looks of the car with new bumper designs front and rear, revised trim and updated technology inside, including a nifty digital instrument cluster. There are detail changes under the skin but, otherwise, the engines remain more or less as before. Available in three- and five-door forms, the Mini is as fun to drive as ever but equipment levels look a little mean and you have to pay extra for navigation and even CarPlay. Click here for our standalone review of the electric version of the Mini Hatch.

Reasons to buy

  • Bags of character
  • Lots of personalisation options
  • Sense of fun

Running costs for a MINI Hatch

Customisation options and packs to personalise the look of the car have always been a big part of Mini ownership

In comparison with other, more conventional superminis the Mini looks like a more premium option thanks to its unique sense of style and perceived quality. The huge range of customisation options and packs to personalise the look of the car have always been a big part of Mini ownership, too, but can hide the fact you need to spend extra to bring it up to the standards of more mainstream rivals in terms of equipment. The monthly finance costs on a mid-range Cooper Sport look competitive with equivalent Polo and Ford Fiesta models, but when you factor in the Volkswagen and Ford both have standard navigation but you have to pay extra for kit like this on the Mini it begins to look more expensive.

In terms of day to day running costs the all-petrol engine range looks pretty good, though most rivals these days offer mild hybrid technology for improved efficiency, while the Toyota Yaris and Renault Clio offer full hybrid options. The three-door hatch is, of course, available in pure electric form as a standalone model and could work out a lot cheaper to run. Read our dedicated review and see Rory Reid’s video roadtest here.

Reliability of a MINI Hatch 3/5

You should have reasonable confidence your Mini will be reliable

Mini scores relatively well on the respected JD Power Vehicle Dependability study and Auto Trader owner reviews for the older, pre-update version of this car would seem to back this up with a generally positive ownership experience. While this new one has some changes it’s fundamentally the same under the skin so you should have reasonable confidence your Mini will be reliable. Fixed-price, subscription style servicing packages have long been a fixture of the brand and help you budget for your running costs if you choose to take them up.

Safety for a MINI Hatch 2/5

You get the usual airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and Isofix mounts front and rear

Although the Mini Hatch has been thoroughly updated it’s based on quite an old car by industry standards, and this is reflected in the amount of safety kit that comes as standard. For sure, you get the usual airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and Isofix mounts front and rear, plus tyre pressure monitoring and the usual ‘e-call’ system to automatically call the cavalry if you have an accident. But you have to pay extra for a ‘Driving Assistant Package’ with the lane departure warnings, automated city braking, traffic sign recognition and (for models with an automatic gearbox) active cruise control many rivals now include as standard. Given we criticised this previously it’s a pity Mini hasn’t taken the opportunity of this update to include them in the price.

How comfortable is the MINI Hatch 3/5

Whatever it loses in practicality the Mini Hatch traditionally makes up for in driving fun

Practicality takes second place to style in the Mini Hatch, but that’s fine and what sets it apart from more mainstream supermini rivals. For the driver and front-seat passenger there’s plenty of room and the low-set driving position is good and feels nicely sporty. There’s plenty of adjustment, too. Boot space is pretty tight but you can of course use the back seats for additional storage space if you need it.

If you actually want to carry people there instead you’ll find access to them in the three-door is a bit of a contortion. While it sacrifices a bit of style the 5-Door Hatch obviously opens up your options here, though the rear doors are quite short and it’s still not that easy for strapping little ones into their seats. Bigger passengers will cope in the two main seats in the back but anyone using the centre position will have to straddle the rear cup holder and fight for foot space with those in the outer seats.

Whatever it loses in practicality the Mini Hatch traditionally makes up for in driving fun, the brand even promoting the so-called ‘go-kart feeling’ it contrives through chunky feeling steering and stiff suspension. This makes it great fun in the corners and celebrates the heritage of the original Mini, but it can feel a little jiggly over rapid-fire bumps on the bigger wheel options and this gets a bit tiring after a while. Standard on Sport models and optional on the Exclusive, a new ‘adaptive’ suspension maintains this sporty character but can also soften the blow of big impacts. We didn’t get to try it in the three-door where we reckon it would make a welcome difference but we did have a go in the 5-Door Hatch, which seems to have a softer, more comfortable ride anyway.

Features of the MINI Hatch 3/5

One new feature Mini is especially proud of is the Multitone Roof option

The Mini line-up is divided into three trim levels named Classic, Sport and Exclusive while the One, Cooper and Cooper S designations refer to the engine choice. That can look a little baffling at first, especially when you factor in all the various options for wheels, contrast roof colours, upholstery and all the rest, so it pays to have a sense of what you want before hitting the configurator. Available on the three-door only, the John Cooper Works is a standalone performance model with its own specification, though there are also John Cooper Works branded options you can add to the regular models. One new feature Mini is especially proud of is the Multitone Roof option, which fades from black to blue and – due to the way it’s done – will be slightly different on every car it’s applied to, meaning each will be truly unique.

All versions of the updated Mini Hatch get the neat digital instrument display behind the steering wheel, which has been carried over from the Electric and is now standard across the range. The large circular display in the centre of the dash also includes a new and improved touch-screen with much more up-to-date graphics and phone-style tabs. You can also operate it with the turn-and-push wheel between the seats, which we reckon is easier on the move than trying to stab away at a screen. It includes Bluetooth and DAB as standard and features various connected services but, disappointingly, navigation and even CarPlay connectivity still have to be added as a cost option.

Power for a MINI Hatch 4/5

Previous experience suggests the mid-range Cooper version might actually be the sweetest all-round package

The Mini’s engine comes from BMW and is available in 1.5-litre three-cylinder form with two power outputs in One and Cooper models. Cooper S and John Cooper Works versions use a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder motor based on the same ‘architecture’, all turbocharged and coming as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. Automatic gearboxes are optional and open up automated ‘stop and go’ cruise control if you add the Driving Assistant Pack too. We drove the 178 horsepower Cooper S version in both three- and five-door models and it’s a smooth and powerful engine, if perhaps not quite as exciting as you might have hoped. The 231 horsepower John Cooper Works should answer those concerns, while previous experience suggests the mid-range Cooper version might actually be the sweetest all-round package, given it’s a bit lighter and makes the car feel a little more agile as a result.