First Drive: Mini 5-Door
Mini sales have rocketed since BMW resurrected the iconic brand back in 2001, with the company set for a record year in 2014. However, Mini has never had a standard five-door hatchback to take on the likes of popular upmarket superminis, such as the Audi A1 and VW Polo.
This is where the new Mini 5-Door comes in. This new model maintains the three-door version's cheeky styling and retro flavour, but adds a dose more practicality thanks to the two extra doors and longer body – all in a small car market where 70 per cent of buyers opt for a five-door model.
What is it?
The Mini 5-Door does what it says on the tin. It is a five-door version of the standard hatchback, which offers up more space for a reasonable £600 premium.
Going on sale on October 25 this latest Mini is billed as a premium small car, with upmarket equipment like a heads up display and active cruise control, which maintains a safe distance behind the car in front all filtering down to the 5-Door.
Where the Mini hatchback majors on form over function, the 5-Door is 16cm longer than the standard car, and the wheels are more spread out, to free up extra interior space. Consequently, the new car will be much more appealing to young families, with a larger boot, more usable rear seats and space for four adults.
Core to the new model's appeal, according to the company, is comfort, space, price and economy, with many personalisation options pandering to buyers' every whim.
What's under the bonnet?
The 5-Door gets all the same engines as its smaller sibling and is available in One, One D, Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and Cooper SD versions.
Petrol models consist of the 101bhp One, the 134bhp Cooper and 189bhp Cooper S. The least powerful model can scoot to 60mph in 9.9 seconds and returns 58.9mpg, while the Cooper S can hit 60mph from a standstill in a scant 6.7 seconds and is capable of 47.9mpg.
As for diesels, the 94bhp One D can get to 60mph in 11.2 seconds and has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 80.7mpg. At the other end of the scale the 168bhp Cooper SD zooms past the 60mph mark in just 7.2 seconds, though official economy is still strong at 68.9mpg.
The bestseller, however, is expected to be the 114bhp Cooper D which takes 9.2 seconds to hit the benchmark speed and returns an official 78.5mpg. Automatic gearboxes are available on all engines, bar the One D.
First Drive: Mini 5-Door
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What's the spec like?
Mini has been known for its never-ending options list and short standard equipment tally, however, all 5-Doors include a digital radio, six-speed gearbox and front and rear electric windows. Also included on all cars are three ISOFIX mounts for child seats – two in the back and one on the passenger seat – along with heated mirrors, Bluetooth and a USB connection for charging phones.
Prices start at £14,350 for the Mini One 5-Door and £15,490 for the One D and rise to £19,255 for the Cooper S and £20,050 for the Cooper SD.
With upmarket features and not insubstantial prices the new Mini lines up alongside the Audi A1 and VW Polo.
Other similarly sized but more affordable competitors include the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa.
What's it like to drive?
Unsurprisingly the 5-Door feels very similar to its smaller sibling on the road. Despite the increase in size the new car darts around the road with equal enthusiasm, and should put a smile on keen drivers' faces.
All the controls feel suitably meaty, with well-weighted, direct steering, a slick, satisfying gear change and firm, but mostly smooth suspension that ensures the car is very controlled around corners.
Other superminis may provide a softer ride, but the 5-Door remains comfortable – even with the 17-inch alloy wheels of our test car – though it doesn't isolate passengers from the biggest of bumps or roughest of roads as successfully as some rivals.
Both Cooper and Cooper D models provide more than enough oomph for most drivers. Though it trails the Cooper for speed, the Cooper D felt more satisfying to drive; the diesel engine was practically silent most of the time – passengers really won't notice that this model isn't powered by petrol.
The diesel motor pulled strongly from low engine speeds and proved extremely refined, even under keener driving. Occupants will notice some tyre noise from the wide wheels and wind noise from the bluff windscreen at speed though.
The AOL Cars verdict
Despite the addition of two extra doors, the 5-Door loses none of the driving appeal of the established three-door car, while adding meaningful extra practicality. Prices also only jump by a reasonable £600 for the five-door model.
As a result, this fun, distinctively styled machine should fly out of showrooms at the same speed as its smaller sibling thanks to its combination of style and substance. The seats are comfortable, the interior feels well-built enough for whatever young rear seat passengers can throw at it, and there's just about enough room for a small family, with space for four adults.
The 5-Door does retain some of the standard Mini hatchback's flaws, however. Some of the ergonomics are flawed, with a starter switch positioned in front of the gear stick for instance, and there are a number of tacky displays which change colour and flash up slightly irritating Mini-branded text to explain driving modes...
If those minor niggles don't bother you though, the Mini 5-Door offers a convincing option for those after a chic small car, with potent but frugal engines and an extra helping of practicality.
Model: Mini 5-Door Cooper D
Engine: 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Max Speed: 126mph
0-60mph 9.2 seconds
Emissions: 97g/km CO2