Friday, August 3, 2018

We drive a Mini Hardtop 5-door

The Mini Hardtop 4-door is positioned to compete with the class leading Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3. It surely does have a tough gig if it wants to lure those buyers away.

The standard 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder is our favorite engine option. It has the lowest running costs and is the most flexible base engine Mini has ever offered. The top of the range 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the Cooper S pumps out 189hp. We’ve driven the Cooper engine in the Hardtop 3-door but hadn’t had the opportunity to drive the Cooper S. Luckily for us we were able to test drive the Cooper S in the Hardtop 4-door and found it to be very joyous to drive. The turbo engine provides the flexibility that you’d desire from the Cooper S while the running costs remain within reason. Steering feedback is communicative and the suspension copes well with most bumps and imperfections. We wouldn’t bother with the standard suspension and just jump right into the sports suspension configuration. It may have a firmer ride but the handling is so fantastic that we can overlook the firmness. It’s not unbearable like some Mercedes AMG trims and it manages to out handle them as well.

The Cooper S is a hoot to drive and there is not a dull moment behind the wheel of this car. It’s not the vehicle for those who are not seeking to be different as the styling stands out in a crowded parking lot. At least the Mini is far more interesting than many small cars. The Countryman for the longest was the only way you could get a Mini with 5-doors. This Mini offers the five-door practicality but the rear seat isn’t even close to being as roomy as the Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3. You’ll forgive it though because the driving dynamics are superb. The dash board is funky looking but the menus and controls are fiddly to use. We wouldn’t mind a more conventional looking dash, while it is distinct and we love distinct. The user friendly factors are not even there and it’s a little disappointing because we were hoping Mini would’ve had this all sorted out. The boot is okay in space.

Our tester car came equipped with technology package, six-speed auto gearbox and heated front seats. Keyless start, Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile device and a premium sound system were also added. The Cooper S had nearly $7k worth of extra kit added which pushed the price close to $34k before a $3k discount was applied. We know that Minis tend to hold their value as well as BMW but a small car with this price tag makes it a very expensive proposition.

The Mini Hardtop 4-door doesn’t seem like a logical choice unless you are buying this with your heart and not your head. We enjoyed driving it around and loved how fast it was. What we loathe is the fact that it costs an arm and a leg to get one that is considered desirable and also Mini tends to be very stingy with standard kit. You’ll want this because it’s different and we agree with your decision but we just think that there are better options out there that are cheaper and have better reliability record.

Likes: It’s a hoot to drive and won’t hurt the wallet thanks to low running costs. A conventional 5-door hatchback that’ s not a crossover. It’s the most distinct car on the road and has the highest residual value of any small car.

Dislikes: Mini reliability record is iffy. The interior while it is funky to look at is not very user friendly. The price skyrockets when you add on the options.

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