2015 Mini Cooper five door review
Mark Higgins’ 2015 Mini Cooper five door review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
In a Nutshell : Mini has added more versatility to the third-generation Mini range with a new five-door version. But that shouldn’t be why you’d buy it.
WHEN I WAS A BOY, my Dad took me to the movie The Italian Job. Not that rubbish version with Mark Wahlberg, the original and best starring three Mini Coopers, Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Raf Valone, Benny Hill, et al. From the moment I saw the three Mini Cooper S’ blasting through, over and under Turin and up into the Alps towards Switzerland, I was hooked.
Sadly, the closest I got to one was a Matchbox model and over the years for one reason or another, I have not driven one… until now. And although there were no sewer pipes, footpaths, building rooftops or alleyways to drive through or across, I managed to spend time in a nearby mountain range awash with gnarly, narrow, tree-lined back roads.
While driving the $27,750 (+ORC) five-door entry version Mini Cooper to the hills, I was scratching my head for reasons to buy one, with such tasty offerings like the Renault Clio RS 200, VW Polo GTi and Ford Fiesta ST, just to name a few.
Yes, it resembled (when I squinted) the old Mini I loved as a boy, with the round edged rectangular grille, bug eye headlights, upright windscreen, framed doors, slimline pillars as Alec Issigonis originally designed back in 1959. This one even had the black roof, black bonnet stripes, black exterior mirrors and optional black 16-inch alloy wheels with 195/55/16 Michelin Energy fitted. It certainly looked the part.
It was when I turned onto the first back road, selected the ‘Go Kart’ drive mode, (there’s also Normal and Green in the $250 option) and nailed the throttle of the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine, snicked my way up and down through the six-speed gearbox and executed the first series of bends, it all became crystal clear.
With a wheel wedged at each corner, a short wheelbase, wide track, tenacious grip, electronic diff lock for improved grip and turn-in, razor-sharp agility, precise steering and balance, the Mini does a great job of reminding you how much fun a ‘warm’ hatch can be
The 1.5 litre, three-cylinder, direct injection turbo only had 100kW (at 4500-6000rpm) but its 220Nm of torque lies at just 1250rpm and really punches you out of corners with impressive seamlessness, while emitting a beautiful deep growl. For all the fun we had, a respectable average for the week of 6.5L/100km was achieved against an official 4.9/L100km.
Sure, you can feel every pimple on the road and the firm suspension transmits them all through your body, but it’s never harsh. And, you know what, if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as captivating. Because in the Mini you feel as you’re part of the car itself, not just the driver.
Arrive at a corner, stab the brakes and you can feel the nose dip, nail the throttle and the tail drops, turn the small leather steering wheel which is like an extension of your arms with instant response and accompanying lateral forces on your body. It’s intoxicating.
And though the Mini has a full spread of driver/safety aids like traction control, ABS brakes with brake-force assist, hill hold and the like, they sit in the background and don’t impede your fun behind the wheel, but are ready to help if you get out of your depth.
You sit down low, in body hugging comfortable bucket seats and combined with the rake and reach, three-spoke, multi-function steering wheel, affords one of the best driving positions I’ve enjoyed in a long time. Legs almost straight, wheel set high and all controls within easy reach. In front of you, mounted on the steering column is the instrument cluster with an analogue speedo and tacho in old-school font, a trip computer and a red bar line showing fuel level.
There’s a large circular dial in the dash centre, (where the speedo lived on the previous generation) and it displays the audio system, multimedia, vehicle settings, music streaming and bluetooth. Your phone messages and emails can also be displayed. The owner’s manual is included here electronically and you can check the condition based, vehicle service indicator. Below the centre dial are chrome HVAC controls and old, style toggle switches for the ignition, traction control and to switch off the start/stop engine eco system. There’s a small storage area, USB port, two cup holders and the mouse for the multi screen display in the centre console that can also be ordered with an optional fold up armrest. But don’t bother as all it does is get in your way when changing gears.
The five-door is 161mm longer, 11mm taller and sits on a longer wheelbase than the three-door, which adds 72mm to rear legroom, 15mm more headroom and a 67 litre increase in boot space to 278 litres. Despite the increase, it’s still very cozy inside. There’s an acceptable amount of front head and legroom, but in the back it’s still very tight and getting in and out requires a touch of physical dexterity, plus there is no foot room under the front seats. Anyone over the age of 10 should grab a front pew.
Back when it was built by British Motor Corporation (BMC) in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, there were more lavishly equipped tents for sale than what you got in the Mini.
Now it is built by BMW, which not only means improved build quality; it also means a good level of standard kit. Included are heated exterior mirrors and washer jets, cruise control, parking sensors, (but no camera which is an omission we’d like rectified in the future), rear spoiler, remote control central locking, auto headlights and wipers with rain sensors, air conditioning, AUX-IN connection for direct MP3 player connection, bluetooth hands free kit with USB, centre instrument display, start/stop toggle switch and on-board computer, with vehicle condition based service indicator.
Cost-optional kit fitted to our test car were 16-inch alloy wheels ($990); Black roof & mirror caps, bonnet stripes ($200); Interior and exterior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle function ($550); MINI Driving Modes ($250); Radio MINI Visual Boost ($750); Bluetooth mobile phone preparation with USB audio interface and front armrest ($400). This hiked the price to $30,890 (+ORC).
Safety features include driver and front passenger, side and curtain airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Corner Brake Control and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Active pedestrian protection system, Crash sensor, Cruise control with braking function, Dynamic Stability Control incl. DTC, Electronic vehicle immobilizer and Electronic differential lock control.