2014 Mini 5-Door road test review | Give me five
PROUDLY trumpeting our automotive Britishness in the Mini 5-Door, we headed for the home of free settlement to give this newcomer a right royal welcome.
Traversing some of the best roads South Australia has to offer, the route bypassed Elizabeth - the northern Adelaide suburb named after Her Majesty.
Lucky we didn't, the sight of extra doors on a Mini Cooper may well have dumbfounded "Lizzbeff" locals currently stunned by the imminent closure of Holden's nearby manufacturing plant.
The once micro machine now comes in a range of styles and genres, with the five-door derivative joining the three-door, roadster, coupe, convertible, Clubman van, Paceman crossover and Countryman SUV.
Designed to cater to those seeking the additional convenience of five doors while still maintaining the modern day Mini hallmarks, the three-engine offering starts from $27,750, which is a $1100 premium over the equivalent three-door derivative.
Up to the A-pillar the three-door and five-door are identical, but the new addition has been stretched and lengthened for more interior space.
Little has changed up front, with key attention on back seat space.
The rear doors are cute and compact, they remind us of the suicide doors on a Mazda RX8, revealing an equally petite back seat.
Much depends on the generosity from folk in the front with limited leg room. Knee space is aided by sculpted front seat backs, although it's still tight.
Anyone who draws the short straw of middle on the rear pew must contend with a hefty bump on the seat along with the centre tunnel that also hosts a large plastic drink holder.
The back seat is best suited to kids and small adults who won't have an issue with adequate head room.
Front seat passengers will have no complaints. This new generation Mini has the vastly improved instrument panel with speedometer and vital information all in front of the driver rather than central on the dash.
Up-spec models get a cool circular display, complete with changing hues which alter depending on how you drive, while the seats are supportive from all angles.
On the road
Mini comes from within BMW's stable, and the three powerplants mirror what we've seen in the three-door range: two turbocharged petrol units and a turbo diesel donk.
Sampling the range, it was proven that adding two doors has made little difference to the dynamic driving ability. You sit low, they hug the road and each model reeks of fun.
The range-topping Cooper S is the most potent with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It's firmer suspension and 17-inch low profile rubber ensures you feel the bumps, but it bites into the bitumen like a British bulldog on a bone.
Step off the gas and it comes with some wonderful little exhaust pops which inspires rapid punches of the throttle.
Both three-cylinder models are more compliant in the suspension, but still like to strut their stuff in the bends.
You have to hold yourself back from chortling "yeah baby" with an Austin Powers accent in the twisty stuff as you carve your way through weaving terrain with rapid tugs of the wheel.
The surprise packet is the diesel with so much torque at the ready. It'll pull hard and strong acceleration from low in the rev range and drink minimal fuel in the process.
What do you get?
Diesel models add a 16.5cm colour central screen, audio streaming, LED lights, dual zone air con and six different ambient light settings.
The Cooper S gets everything, including 17-inch alloys, sports seats with a cloth leather combination, business sat nav, drive modes (sport, mid and green) along with the central controller function similar to BMW's iDrive system.
Two cup holders sit next to the USB, auxiliary and 12-volt plugs along with a storage spot perfect for phones and audio devices. Another cup holder is on the transmission tunnel in the back.
The Mini has a useful glovebox, along with a cool slot hidden away in the dash.
There is extra boot space too, good
enough for two small suitcases. Handy for small families, the 278 litres can be expanded to 941 litres with the 60/40-split rear seat back folded flat.
Fuel consumption is super thrifty in the diesel, able to average less than four litres for every 100km. Petrol models should achieve about six, although they do run on premium unleaded.
Mini offers an impressive servicing pack option called TLC. For $850 up front, it covers servicing basics for five years or 70,000km.
But if things go wrong parts can be expensive.
Designers have done a stellar job integrating the extra openings. The use of glass and thin pillars at the rear still makes it distinctly Mini.
Buyers typically love to customise their purchase, and there is an array of extras available to personalise. They can quickly add up though and have a big impact on the bottom line - our test Cooper S had more than $10,000 worth of options.
There are 11 exterior colours too, including the resurrection of "electric blue".
Gaining the extra doors has impacted little on the performance.
Maintaining the essence of Mini, which is the low riding performance and go-kart feel, the five-door variant does improve accessibly and practicality.
The rear seat space remains tight, and those seeking a family chariot would be better served by the Countryman SUV - but don't expect the same dynamics from the higher riding wagon.
What matters most
What we liked: It still looks like a Mini with convenience thrown in, still fun to drive, diesel engine.
What we'd like to see: Less expensive options, slightly more rear legroom.
Warranty and servicing: Three year 100,000km warranty. It has condition-based servicing, but bank on about 15,000km or annually. Mini offers a TLC servicing pack $850 which covers the basics for five years or 70,000km.
Model: Mini 5 Door.
Details: Five-door five-seat front-wheel drive hatchback.
Engines: 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 100kW @ 4400rpm and peak torque of 220Nm @ 1250rpm; 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo diesel 85kW @ 4000rpm and 270Nm @ 1750rpm; 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol 141kW @ 4700-6000rpm and 280Nm @1250rpm.
Transmissions: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: Cooper 4.9 litres/100km (combined average, manual), 5.0L/100km (a); Cooper D 3.8L/100km (m), 3.9L/100km (a); Cooper S 6.0L/100km (m), 5.5L/100km (a).
Performance: 0-100kmh Cooper 8.2 seconds (m), 8.1 (a); Cooper D 9.4 (m), 9.5 (a); Cooper S 6.9 (m), 6.8 (a).
Bottom line: Cooper $27,750; Cooper D $32,900, Cooper S $38,050. Auto $2350, Sports $2650 available on Cooper S.