MINI One 5 Door Review
One For A Sunny Island

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
3 Sep 2021
 

The current MINI 5 door has now gotten itself a facelift… shortly after they just facelifted it, and the changes are a bit of a mixed bag.

Singapore is probably a very ideal place for a premium oddball brand like MINI. The cars they churn out - all compact in size, are heaps of fun to drive, delivering their promise of a go-kart like experience. 

At the heart of the brand, is their smallest car, the 3 door hatch, which arguably has the best driver placement in the entire range. The 5 door hatchback on the other hand sacrifices this placement for the value-add of two rear doors. The car’s small footprint would be just ideal for small places, and makes for an easy daily driver.

The current MINI 5 door has now gotten itself a facelift… shortly after they just facelifted it, and the changes are a bit of a mixed bag. 

Tweaked styling sees the car’s fog lamps integrated within the headlight cluster, and the front end gets a horseshoe mustache. The rear retains the brand’s now signature “Union Jack” themed tail lamps, while mild restyling of the rear bumper gels with the front mustache.

Not a deal breaker, but the rubber seals which surround the windows, do look a little cheaper than previously.

Inside

Most of the MINI 5dr’s interior remains the same. The infotainment system, fronted by a new 8.8” screen which now sits flush, supports Apple CarPlay wirelessly. The interface has also been slightly tweaked, and is now has visually appealing “live widgets”; and you can link your vehicle to the MINI App on your mobile device, which if you are potentially hands-off on ownership (like me), will help keep tabs on when your next servicing interval is, and more importantly, you can locate and even lock and unlock the vehicle, or have the car ventilated before you head out. With the Mini Voice Control (similar to the BMW Personal Assistant), you can activate certain functions by asking the car to do so. Around the screen, a pleasantly re-worked light bezel, which is central to the dashboard’s styling, freshens up the interior.

The expanded instrument cluster now has a 5” digital screen that functions as a speed counter, and with its larger overall display surface, allows for more flexibility in the amount of information that can be displayed. The redesigned steering wheel, along with the reworked air-conditioning vents are a pleasant touch that visually reduces interior clutter. The steering wheel buttons, while a neater design, are too loose in my opinion, and they come across as cheaper than the ones they replace.

MINI relies on two architectures, the UKL1, which both the 3 and 5 door hatches and the Convertible utilise, while the UKL2 is intended for their larger cars, forming the base for the Clubman and Countryman. The latter UKL2 is also shared with parent company BMW for cars like their 2 Series Gran Coupe and X1. With the smaller architecture, the MINI hatch is narrow on the inside, and even as a 5 door model, rear passenger space might be a bit of a squeeze for adults. But if you are considering the MINI, and need the rear seats, the 5 door is the most affordable body shape, and if you only need the space occasionally, or for transporting your tweens, it is quite sufficient. Speaking of seats, I like that our test car got a tan interior, which makes it less claustrophobic than a black one.

Where millimeters count, the MINI 5 Door’s boot, a 211 litre compartment has no odd corners, a flat loading area, and has a double floor for added versatility. The rear seats, which fold flat in 60:40 fashion, increases cargo room to 731 litres. In contrast, the Audi A1’s boot boasts 335 litres.

The Drive

The MINI One gets power from a turbocharged 1.5 litre three-cylinder BMW-sourced engine. In the ‘One’ state of tune, the engine produces 102hp and 190Nm. The quick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which drives the front wheels has also been retained. 

While 102hp may not be plenty, the small hatchback is in the neighborhood of 1,300kg, which means that it is pretty light. While it may not be very quick, it has got sufficient grunt on most occasions. Where it shines is in how direct it feels around corners, and you could wager that it is about as sharp as some hot hatches out there. If you are looking for a plush ride, the MINI is not for you. But if you do love a good drive, the amount of driver engagement is truly quite priceless. 

The MINI One, while built to drive well, the engine does get a little flat after 3,600rpm, even though it will attempt to keep working for you. Around most twisty turns here, it is easy to keep the MINI One within its prime torque band. But if you are not able to, and have a need for more shove, the higher-powered Cooper or even the Cooper S (even better because of its smoother four-cyl) might suit you better, but are more costly.

The lower-powered engine has a key selling point, which is the car’s good fuel economy. While MINI boasts 19.2km/l, we managed around 18km/l, which is still good. We also like that the interior is well-insulated, though at the lights, if you are the kind who knocks off the car’s “auto start-stop” function, you can just about feel that 3-cyl doing a shimmy under the bonnet. If you are the kind who uses the “auto start-stop”, the engine really makes itself felt during its re-start.

For a “base” car, the MINI One is actually well equipped. On the list of standard equipment, is its ‘Driving Assistant with Person & Approach Control Warning with Light City Braking’... a feature with a long name, in short, identifies pedestrians and vehicles and warns the driver or reacts accordingly to prevent a mishap. The infotainment system is also able to update you on traffic in real time, so that you can make alternative plans as you travel. And among my favourite and forgettable features are the rain sensor for the wipers and automatic headlamps, which interestingly, does get omitted on some base premium vehicles.

Our Thoughts

The facelift of the facelifted MINI One is visually prettier than the car it replaces, and has plenty to offer. For what it is going for, you could opt for more space and practicality with a Volkswagen Golf (which also drives extremely well). But if space is secondary, and go-kart handling abilities are a thing for you, the MINI One 5 Door is a pretty good offering.

In Summary

We Like

Go-kart handling. Solid build. Well equipped for a base car. Cheeky design wins hearts.

We Don't

Loose buttons on the steering wheel and ugly rubber door seals cheapens the car. Three-cylinder engine tends to vibrate more than I like.

Verdict

Probably the best value-for-money MINI.

Car Loan Calculator - MINI One 5 Door (A)

SGD 128,888 (7 Oct 2021)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1499cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 3
Bore x Stroke (82 x 94.6)mm
Power 102bhp @ 3900rpm
Torque 190Nm @ 1380rpm
Power to Weight 84 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 10.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 195 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF

Measurements

Body Type 5 Door Hatch
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(3821 x 1727 x 1414) mm
Wheelbase 2495 mm
Kerb Weight 1215 kg
Boot Capacity 211 L
Boot Capacity (folded) 731 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs