Cars - Mini

Road tests and reviews of the latest Mini models available in South Africa

2015 Mini Cooper 5-Door

2015 Mini Cooper 5-Door

By Franky Johnson

Although the Mini in all its various models has always been a 3-door hatch back, and given that five-door hatchback sales far exceeds those of 3-door hatches, and makes one wonder why it took Mini so long to bring a 5-door into the range. Having said that, many Mini fans will welcome the 5-door, especially as it’s even larger than the enlarged new 3-door.

From an appearance point of view at first glance the MINI five-door looks the same as the three-door and one only notices that it has five doors when viewed from the sides, but it must be said that the extra doors blend in well in maintaining the Mini’s traditional proportions. The press car looked very sporty with twin thick bonnet stripes, subtle rear tailgate spoiler, and 14-spoke black alloy wheels shod with 195/55 R16 low profile Korean Hankook tyres.

The extra doors make it a lot easier to get in and out the Mini, especially for those at the rear and also the rear doors make it a lot easier to install a baby seat if needed. Overall the 5-door offers a lot more head and legroom in the back than the three-door, enough to make it more comfortable for adults without them being cramped, however the rear seat middle passenger will have to put a leg either side of the back of the centre armrest, which is not particularly comfortable. The larger dimensions also allow for a larger boot – but not the best in class. However, the rear seat back splits 60/40 and can be folded down to increase luggage space.

Storage for oddments is adequate with front and rear door pockets, cupholders - two in the front and one centrally mounted in the rear which can accommodate a 1.5 litre bottle. The cubby is quite small though.

On the inside, only good quality materials are used, and the cloth covered front bucket seats are well-bolstered, and with thigh support are very comfortable. Thankfully the retro style dash in the previous models, which was a bit messy, but perhaps suited the early models, has been replaced by controls that are much simpler to use, including the rotary knob on the floor console that operates the iDrive type controller.

However the cockpit of the MINI 5-Door is the same as that of the MINI 3-Door, and while the dash still retains design features as in previous Minis such as the circular air vents, the old-school toggle switches, and the large round dial which displays the GPS directions and other information. The speedo is now in front of the driver where it should be, and the press car had the optional head-up display which eliminates the driver having to look away from the road to check speed and directions.

The new Mini is packed with new technology. With the Radio MINI Visual Boost and 22.4 cm screen mounted in the centre of the cockpit, the MINI Controller and the MINI Connected interface one can access all the digital functionality that the twenty-first century has to offer, while the interactive, soft coloured interior LED lighting that changes colour depending on which function you’re in, provides information about everything from the vehicle’s setup, the infotainment system, communication and, where fitted, the GPS functions.

The Mini 5-Door comes standard with air-conditioning, a Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, a digital radio and a USB socket which will play your iPod through the audio system. And of course it has keyless entry and push button start.

There’s also a long list of safety items which include stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes six airbags, plus all the electronic driver aids such as ABS, EBD, ESP, traction control and others.

But it’s what is under the bonnet that makes the Mini 5-door economical, yet fun to drive. Powered by a 1.5 litre turbo-charged 3-cylinder petrol engine, it develops 100 kW at 4 500 rpm and 220 Nm of torque with the over-boost function. Drive is to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox, although a 6-speed Steptronic automatic is also available. In acceleration tests the perky 3-cylinder engine covered the 0 to 100 km sprint in a quick 8.2 seconds after two gear-changes and has a top speed of over 200 km/h.

From behind the wheel, with the driver’s seat being multi-adjustable and the thick leather wrapped 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel being able to tilt and slide, no one should have a problem finding a comfortable driving position

The Mini Cooper 5-door is in every way a driver’s car, retaining the fun and sporty characteristics of previous MINIs. It’s also a family car that can double as a sporty hatchback that can be driven enthuastiastically when one gets the urge. Around town the large windows provide an excellent all-round view, and while the Mini 5-Door is longer than the three-door car it’s still small enough to be easy to park.

On freeways the Cooper 5-door is quiet and fast, and at a steady 120 km/h, the motor spins at 2 400 rpm in 6th gear while the ample torque takes care of hilly terrain.

On the road, the Cooper feels positively well planted and stable, even at high speed thanks to the low centre of gravity and electro-mechanical power steering. However, it’s when you’re out of town where the road starts to twist and turn, that the Mini is great fun to drive, especially in Sport mode, which provides enhanced steering and throttle response. You’d have to do something really stupid to lose control on corners. The suspension is on the firm side, but ride quality is good, and the Mini would be a nice car to drive on a long trip.

Regarding fuel consumption, depending on how you drive it, you can expect to average around 6 litres per 100 km which with a 47 litre tank should give you around 700 kms between tank fills.

The Mini Cooper 5-door hatch includes a 3 year / 75 000 full maintenance plan.

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