As with its parent company BMW, MINI has just held their end of year media round-up of news plus the opportunity to test drive the new MINI 5-Door Hatchback.
The new models go on sale from 25 October 2014 with on-the-road prices ranging from £14,350 to £20,050, each £600 more than their equivalent 3-Door Hatch version. In true MINI tradition there is a wide range of extra cost options and personalisation packs.
Although MINI’s UK sales for the first nine months of this year were down by 9% due to the changeover from the previous 3-Door Hatch to the new generation range launched six months ago, Dave Tuckett, MINI’s Product and Planning Manager said “Basically we are now catching up with sales. We have our biggest ever forward order bank with 13,000 customers waiting for the new three and five door Hatch models and our other refreshed versions in the seven variant line-up. We expect to sell over 53,000 MINIs in the UK this year, more than in 2013 and our biggest ever year. Globally we sold 305,000 cars in 2013 in 110 countries.”
He added that the British built three and five door Hatch models will account for around 60% of all MINI sales in the UK with the Countryman estate range of two and four wheel drive models being the second most popular range taking around 30% of sales. The next most popular model is the Convertible followed by the Clubman, Paceman, Coupe and Roadster versions.”
Of the all-new three and five door Hatch models he said that the 3-Door Hatch is expected to still appeal to 60% of UK customers due to its heritage, price and size. This could change in the longer term as it is usual in this ‘supermini’ sector for five door models to be more popular than three door versions. Competitors include the Audi A1, Peugeot 208, Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Polo.
Dave Tuckett said, “With the Introduction of the 5-Door Hatch models it will allow us to be more competitive for sales in the fleet and business market where some operators do not entertain having three door models in the ‘supermini’ sector. I estimate we could see 20 to 30% of MINI 5-Door Hatch sales going to business user-chooser customers.”
The new MINI 5-Door Hatch is 3,982mm in length, 161mm longer than the 3-Door versions and the wheelbase is longer by 72mm which is good news for rear seat passengers. The extra two doors give easier access to the rear seats but they are small. Due to their increase in size 5-Door Hatch models are an average 60kg heavier than their three door counterparts. The five-door models also have more headroom front and rear than the three door MINI and also more than other main competitors in the ‘supermini’ sector. The extra length also results in the 5-Door Hatch having a larger boot of 278-litres, 67-litres more than the three door versions. The new model has a 60/40 split folding rear seat for additional load and passenger carrying flexibility. There is also now a third seatbelt for the rear so it could be considered a five-seater but the centre position is really cramped.
Whereas the 3-Door Hatch has appealed to young singles or couples without children, the five door versions are expected to appeal to young families or empty nesters. The three-door models have a female bias to ownership but it is anticipated the five-door models will have a slight bias towards male drivers.
The 5-Door MINI Hatch range will eventually mirror the 3-Door Hatch line up in terms of models but initially there are Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and Cooper SD petrol and diesel versions with One and One D production due to start in November.
The engine line-up will consists of a MINI One 1.2-litre, three-cylinder 102hp petrol or a 1.5-litre three-cylinder 95hp turbodiesel, a Cooper 1.5-litre three cylinder 136hp petrol or a 1.5-litre three-cylinder 116hp turbodiesel and Cooper S models have a 2.0-litre four-cylinder 192hp petrol or a 2.0-litre four cylinder 170hp turbodiesel. Petrol engines are direct injection and turbocharged. All have a six speed manual gearbox as standard and there is an optional six-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox for all models, except the MINI One D, adding between £1,270 to £1,625 to the price. CO2 emissions range from 92g/km for the One D to 136g/km for the Cooper S petrol for manual gearbox models and 99g/km for the Cooper D to 125g/km for the Cooper S automatic transmission versions. Combined Cycle fuel economy ranges from 80.7 down to 47.1mpg depending on the model chosen.
My MINI 5-Door Hatch first drive was in the popular Cooper specification but with the 1.5-litre MINI/BMW’s new generation three-cylinder, turbocharged direct injection petrol engine with stop/start function. This fast revving units zips out 136hp with 220Nm of torque from only 1,250rpm. Those figures speak for themselves and the engine is smooth for a three-pot. Thanks to its TwinPower turbo technology its lively mid to top range and responsive low to mid range so there is no performance drawback in it not being a four cylinder engine. With the extra length and two doors I definitely felt the MINI 5-Door Hatch has become a more substantial vehicle so it needs a willing engine. It is mated with a six-speed manual gearbox with well spaced ratios for this engine but the gearchange was on the notchy side. For driver assistance there is a gear-change prompt and a Driving Modes function operated through a rotary switch at the base of the gearlever used to select either the default Mid, Sport or Green modes. My test driving was done mainly in Green mode with the other two selected briefly just to feel the difference in the accelerator and steering responses. The fact that most of my test driving was done in the Green mode made the real life fuel consumption figure even harder to understand.
Top speed is 129mph and zero to 62mph takes 8.2 seconds. Officially this engine in the Combined Cycle will return 60.1mpg and I have to disappointingly say that my relatively gentle short test drive using the winding and busy Cotswold roads returned a poor 32.7mpg. It seems the case that in most instance that three cylinder engines have to be worked harder that ‘fours’ hence the real-life fuel economy is underwhelming.
With CO2 emissions of 109g/km, fitted with standard 15-inch alloy wheels, means VED road tax is to the First Year rate is £0 and year Two onwards it is currently £20. The company car drivers likely to find the 5-Door Hatch now on their ‘allowed’ list Benefit-in-Kind tax is rated at 14% and the insurance group is 20.
With its increase in weight and length perhaps the 5-Door Hatch is not just as ‘flickable’ as the original British Mini or any of the BMW MINIs from 2001 onwards but the interior quality is probably the best of all time. It really feels like a compact BMW and of course it is because both brands now share versions of this new front wheel drive platform, the engines and premium quality of the interior fixtures and fittings. It is really a BMW in all but name but now with more doors, more style this MINI has more possibilities for more customers.
MILESTONES: MINI Cooper 5-Door Hatch 1.5-litre Petrol. Price: £15,900, (With options as tested £21,250). Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder, direct injection turbocharged petrol, 136hp, 220Nm (162lb ft) of torque from 1,250rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 129mph, 0-62mph 8.2 seconds, 60.1mpg Combined Cycle (32.7mpg on test), CO2 109g/km (on standard alloy wheels and 111g/km on larger alloys), VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 or £30 Year Two onwards depending on wheel size., BIK tax 14 or 15% depending on wheel size. Insurance group: 20. Warranty: 3-years/unlimited. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,982mm, W 1,932mm, H 1,425mm, boot/load space 278 to 719-litres. For: Good looking, well balanced, a more practical family MINI, low running costs, lively engine, high quality. Against: Gets very expensive with options added, larger wheels cost more, increase running costs and give an even firmer ride, test drive fuel economy much lower than the official figures. Miles Better News agency