MINI likes to do its own ways of thinking. When people asked them for a five-door MINI, they gave us the R55 Clubman and the R60 Countryman. Of course they have five doors but both are not regular MINIs. The former has extra doors where you don’t really need them while the latter is not a mini MINI but a crossover MINI. While we appreciate their sense of humour, it took them a few generations of the new MINI to finally introduce a proper MINI 5 door. Now that wasn’t so hard was it, MINI?
Based on the versatile UKL platform that underpins the compact family of cars from BMW Group such as the MINI 3 Door and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, the MINI 5 door adopts a conventional five door layout like on any other regular five door hatchback. By adding a couple of extra doors, MINI has literally opened its doors to a wider market who previously thought they could never own a more practical MINI other than the monstrosity called the Countryman.
|Name||MINI 5 Door Cooper S|
|Engine||1,998cc; inline-four cylinder, turbocharged|
|Max Power||192 hp @ 4,700 rpm|
|Max Torque||280 Nm @ 1,250 rpm|
The MINI 5 Door was revealed in 2014 and launched in Malaysia at the end of that year, and the 5 Door range mimics the lesser-doored sibling, which consists of the mild Cooper the hot Cooper S featuring a couple of new modular TwinPower Turbo engines from BMW. Although the hotter John Cooper Works (JCW) variant is yet to be offered for the MINI 5 Door here in Malaysia. Prices start from RM189k for the 5 Door Cooper and from RM237k for the 5 Door Cooper S.
The 3 Door Cooper we sampled not long ago with its 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo was a delight. Undeterred by the fact that it’s not a fast hatch, the whole package makes for a fun little car to be driven hard. It’s no surprise we were also keen to try the turbo triple in the 5 Door, whether that engine in the heavier 5 Door would be enough to deliver the same amount of fun, if not less. Instead, we were granted the MINI 5 Door in the Cooper S variant with 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers.
While the original MINI 3 Door looks every bit as cheeky as it can be, the MINI 5 door is like a portlier twin to the MINI 3 door. Yet, to our eyes it’s far more palatable than the oversized Countryman. It’s instantly recognisable with that familiar mug from the MINI 3 Door, because the face is exactly the same on both cars. Likewise the back end with those comically oversized tail lights.
Although keen eyes will spot the slightly more contoured tailgate that’s also missing a roof spoiler, everything else is identical down to the chromed exhaust tips. Since our car is the Cooper S, it gets a set of busier front and rear bumpers, LED front lights, a dummy bonnet scoop, and pair of center-exit tailpipes.
It would be too predictable for MINI to extend the 3 Door and chuck in a couple of extra doors at the back. Therefore, apart from the extra 72 mm in the wheelbase and two additional entry points at the back, MINI designers also gave the 5 Door a more sloping rear window, bestowing the car with a distinct side profile. Yours truly wasn’t sold on the rather awkward silhouette upon the first encounter, but the shape grows on me the more I see it.
The glitzy 17-inch “Roulette” wheels look attractive on the 5 Door, although we think there are better designs out there that better suits the car. Our car looks electrifying in Electric Blue, which is the halo colour for the 5 Door, and as usual you can have the roof, side mirror caps, and bonnet stripes in either black or white.
If you’re a critical person, you may be displeased upon opening the doors because the MINI 5 Door doesn’t retain the sexy frameless windows from the 3 Door. However it does retain the chic interior, so go ahead and make yourself comfortable in the driver’s seat and close the door. The solid interior builds on the modern-retro fusion theme, presenting eye catching details such as the funky switchgear on the center panel, the pulsating starter toggle ahead of the gearknob, as well as the driving mode selector around the base of the gear lever.
The adjustments for the leather wrapped seats and steering wheel are still done manually, but it’s easy to obtain your desired driving position. The front sports seats feel great and holds you in place quite snugly. Besides, not only the base go really low and slide ridiculously far back to accommodate the tallest of basketball players, the backrest recline to an almost flat angle too. Perfect for a quick nap after a long drive.
The cabin’s highlight has to be the circular center panel. A 6.5-inch screen sits on top of a bar of controls for the audio system, and they are surrounded by a hypnotic glowing tube that changes colour depending on the settings you will find inside the menu. The screen is controlled by MINI’s interpretation of the iDrive controller, but it’s located down below next to the handbrake lever, which can make your left arm quite uncomfortable when you’re operating it while on the move. A center arm rest isn’t even included as standard. Come on MINI! Are you kidding me?
As we digress, the best thing about having the rear doors is you no longer need to tumble the front seats forward to get to the back seats. The opening is not particularly huge and for that reason the access to the rear is still rather tight, but it’s definitely much easier than before. Headroom is fine and you also get a wee bit more of leg room compared to the 3 Door. You can squeeze in three passengers in the back, but expect to see grumpy faces in your rear view mirror over long journeys.
There are a total of six airbags but only three cupholders in the entire cabin, and with the low surrounding base to hold your drink in place you wouldn’t want to put your hot latte in there during your spirited driving for the risk of spilling. Tiny storage spaces are available for you to stash your knick knacks such as the dual glovebox, door pockets, and the netting near the front passenger’s foot well, but you will struggle to find anywhere to store your bigger items other than the boot.
The boot is bigger than the 3 Door by 67 litres, giving a total of 278 litres which is now comparable to its peers in its segment, and MINI provides flexible storage options such as the adjustable boot floor and the 60/40 split folding rear seat backrests that’s also equipped with ISOFIX mounts. Additional compartment can be found under the boot floor, as the runflat-equipped MINI eliminates the need of a spare wheel.
Whereas the Cooper gets a downsized turbocharged engine with one cylinder less, the Cooper S receives its biggest engine ever. Replacing the turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder “prince” engine is a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder with BMW’s famed TwinPower Turbo technology, leaving very little space left in the compact engine bay. The new engine pumps out 8 hp and 40 Nm more than what the prince can whip out, delivering a total of 192 hp and 280 Nm to the front wheels via the 6-speed automatic gearbox.
With that kind of hardware the 5 Door Cooper S clocks the century sprint 0.1 seconds slower than the 3 Door Cooper S, at 6.8 seconds. Keep going past the 100 km/h mark and the Cooper S will top out at 230 km/h on the speedometer, but obviously you won’t be able to get the claimed combined fuel consumption of 5.5 l/100 km if you keep your right foot planted all the time.
The powerplant under that clamshell bonnet proved to be a sizzling one. In Sports mode it makes all the right noises with the obligatory burps, pops, and crackles when pushed, and most of the time you won’t be left wanting for more power. BMW really nailed it with their TwinPower Turbo thingamajig. It pulls cleanly with no lag and delivers a bucketload of mid range poke making it a cinch to overtake slower vehicles.
You rarely need to play with the shift paddles behind the steering wheel, because oftentimes the Aisin six-speeder knows which gear to be in based on your ankle angle over the floor-hinged throttle pedal. The shifts are not as quick as a dual clutch gearbox, but at least it’s smooth and more importantly it’s jerk-free in crawling traffic.
However, unlike the Cooper 3 Door we drove last year, the steering on our test car sometimes feel a little slow to react before it weighs up, and this usually happens when driving around in low to mid speed. But once everything clicks, it’s a joy taking on tight and twisty roads. The brakes provided are proportionate to the performance too, resisting fade really well after multiple usage.
You will also appreciate the 5 Door’s exemplary body control. The longer wheelbase contributes to the better handling compared to the 3 Door; it’s less nervous on the limit although it’s no less agile than the shorter sibling. The suspension is definitely tuned for back roads blasting because there’s barely any body roll to speak of. On the other hand, the firm suspension setup may be a drawback when you’re traveling on undulating roads but it’s never too stiff to make it uncomfortable.
Out of the three driving modes, Sports mode possesses that magical power to bring out the inner-child in you, cajoling you to go for a drive not because you want to get to places, but simply because it’s a fun thing to do. Nevertheless, under normal circumstances Mid mode would suffice. After all, it is the default mode every time you turn on the MINI. Gearchange occurs sooner than in Sports mode, and the throttle response is more subdued in Mid mode. You will still make good progress around town thanks to dollops of torque on tap, allowing you to dart in and out of traffic without hesitation.
The fact that the new MINI has grown in size over its predecessors, the 5 Door still occupies a tiny footprint, meaning it’s a highly maneuverable car in town. With wheels placed at each corner you shouldn’t have any problem navigating narrow lanes. Parking is also a piece of cake, and the front and rear sensors are the icing on the cake.
The last of the three driving modes is the Green mode. This final driving mode is best left alone, unless you’re running really low on fuel. We really don’t see the point driving a Cooper S in Green mode when everything is held back and dulled down. You should be driving a Mitsubishi Attrage instead.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
If you always wanted the MINI but the missus dismissed it for being too cramped, this car is the answer that you’ve been waiting for. Both of you will appreciate the increased practicalities over the 3 Door, especially when it’s less of a hassle when you’re trying to install a child seat in the back. Although we foresee an issue might arise on who gets to drive it, so good luck fighting for the keys to the MINI.
Furthermore, in this Cooper S form it’s a formidable choice to those who are seeking hot hatch thrills. On weekdays it will behave like a normal city runabout, but on weekends you just flick the driving mode to Sport and you’re all set to tackle your favourite B-road with gusto.
Like its looks, the positioning of the MINI Cooper S 5 Door is a bit weird. It’s a B-segment hatch with a C-segment heart and price. It’s certainly the most expensive in its category, costing an eye-watering RM70k more than the next expensive hot hatch, the Renault Clio RS 200. There’s also the Volkswagen Polo GTI, but the latest incarnation is not yet available in Malaysia, so we have to leave that one out for this moment.
Even though both cars offer almost identical performance figures, each are targeted at different clientele. Both are brisk performers, but it all boils down to your preferences. You can’t really substitute each car with each other, but it shows that how different approach were taken by these two manufacturers to come up with an entertaining hot hatch.
|MINI 5 Door Cooper S||Renault Clio RS 200 EDC|
|Type||4-cylinder petrol, turbocharged||4-cylinder petrol, turbocharged|
|Type||Electric Power-Steering||Electric Power-Steering|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic||6-speed dual-clutch|
|Type||MacPherson Strut / Multi-Link||MacPherson Strut / Torsion Beam|
|Front||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc|
|Rear||Solid disc||Solid disc|
|TYRE & WHEELS|
|Tyres||205/45 R17||205/45 R17|
|DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT|
|Max Kerb weight||kg||1,295||1,218|
|Luggage Capacity (VDA)||L||278||300|
|0 – 100km/h||sec||6.8||6.7|
|PRICE (without insurance)||RM||236,888.00||168,270.00|
WILL I BUY IT?
It’s not the question of need but it’s the question of want. Most people don’t actually need the MINI 5 Door but for a car that just radiates coolness you can’t help but want one. Gladly, it’s not all about style, the MINI delivers the goods when it comes to driving enjoyment. For a car that made me giggle every time I get behind the wheel like a 10 year old kid who was given a huge serving of ice cream, I say this car deserves a spot in my garage.