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Mini Hatchback Review

7 / 10
19 December 2023
Mini Hatchback review front three quarter

Mini Hatchbacks might not be so mini anymore, but they score maximum marks for charm.

Every model in the lineup feels planted and sporty on the road while, in the cabin, there's plenty of plush and premium styling details to draw the eye.

What we like:
  • Sharp, sporty handling
  • Powerful engines
  • Posh cabin
What we don't like:
  • Tight rear-seat space
  • Small boot
  • Firm and noisy on the move

Should I buy a Mini Hatchback?

Unlike some hatchbacks that try to have a broad appeal, the Mini Hatchback knows definitively what it's trying to be – a posh, fun-driving hatchback. As a result, cars like the Audi A1 are more comfortable, while the Honda Jazz is more practical, but neither can match the Mini's athletic, upmarket image.

Inside, the Mini is on the tight side with rear-seat passengers more of an afterthought than a proper consideration. However, material quality is exceptionally high, and there are appealing retro touches like the round centre screen and chromed toggle switches to excite the senses.

On the move, nothing drives like a Mini. It's keener to dart into corners than almost any other car in this class and is even more resistant to body roll than a professional sumo wrestler. Plus, with either the Cooper S or John Cooper Works engines under the bonnet, it has the firepower to match the handling.

Interior and technology

This is one of the Mini's top selling points – its cabin is one of the nicest you'll find in any hatchback. Soft-touch materials are used extensively and, on higher trims, this is paired with plush leather upholstery on the body-hugging sports seats. Plus, there are no creaks or rattles to undermine the interior experience.

It's stylish, too. There are lots of nods to the '50s original in the new car's cabin, including the round centre infotainment unit that apes the old car's speedometer readout. Dinky chromed toggle switches with neatly designed bump guards also feature among the dashboard and roof controls. Harder plastics are tucked well out of your eye line, so there's almost nothing to spoil the overall ambiance.

All cars now get an infotainment screen in the round centre pod. The system is slick and looks good, although the screen's small size – in particular its height – means displayed information can be a little tricky to read at a glance. We do like that Mini's stuck with a rotary controller in the centre console, which can take some of the guesswork out of using a touchscreen on the move.


For single buyers or couples, the Mini Hatchback has more than enough space for day-to-day life. Three-door models have a pair of back seats into which you can squeeze extra passengers for short trips or, more likely, use as an extra storage shelf.

Stepping up to the five-door Hatchback means much easier rear access, along with adding a centre-rear seat and a small bump in rear legroom. However, these upgrades aren't enough to turn the five-door into a truly practical hatchback, with models like the Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo still handily beating the Mini for practicality.

Cargo storage is nothing to write home about, either. The boot will handle a couple's weekly shop without complaint, along with larger items if you fold the rear seats, but it'll quickly run out of space if carrying extra passengers or visiting a popular flat-pack furniture store.

If you want the Mini ownership experience but with enough practicality for the whole family, take a look at the Mini Countryman.

Engines and performance

The Mini might underwhelm in the boot, but it makes up for it under the bonnet. Even cars with the entry-level 102hp One engine have enough grunt to feel relaxed when joining faster roads, while the most common Cooper models come with 136hp, meaning lots of relaxed pulling power in a car this small.

If you want more zip, step up to the 192hp Cooper S engine, which feels properly fast when hurled down a twisty B-road. Or, for a proper hot-hatch experience, the John Cooper Works model is happy to abuse its front tyres with its meaty 231hp output.

If you have access to EV charging, you can also consider the Mini Cooper SE. This battery-powered model borrows technology from the BMW i3, including with its punchy 181hp electric motor for serious off-the-line pace.

Driving and comfort

If you like driving, you'll love the Mini Hatchback. Its planted stance, firm suspension and ultra-quick steering means it dives for corner apexes like a cat after a ball of string. Pair this agile setup with either the zippy Cooper S or John Cooper Works engines and the car is seriously good fun to drive, whether scything through an urban jungle or blasting down a country road.

If you value comfort, however, the Mini might not be the best choice. Its excellent body control does mean it's easy and predictable to drive, but the overall setup is firm. Both big bumps and small imperfections from rough roads are translated through the suspension to the passengers, although harsh impacts are softened enough that it's not too much of a sacrifice to make if you value the fun handling.

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