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The Mini 3-door is a small car that looks cool inside and out, and is a hoot to drive – but it’s not very comfy and options are expensive
The Mini three-door Hatchback is a smart-looking small car that’s brilliant to drive and sure to put a smile on your face – and you should certainly consider one if you can live with the small boot and awkward rear seats.
This generation of the Mini three-door originally went on sale in 2014, but it was updated in 2018 with new headlights, Union Jack tail lights and the option to have custom 3D-printed trims fitted in various places.
It also introduced a brand new ‘Mini’ logo, as well as some new engines and gearboxes to choose from, but otherwise, it’s all business as usual. That means you get a well-made interior that oozes retro charm, but can also be fitted with plenty of modern touches such as a circle of lights around the central infotainment screen that changes colour. This is part of the Mini Excitement Pack (included in the Pepper and Chilli option packs), alongside adjustable mood lighting, and you can think of it as a lava lamp that matches its colour to whatever menu you’re in. To be honest, it’s pretty pointless, but it’s very cool nevertheless.
Far more useful is the Mini’s excellent infotainment system, which is controlled through a 6.5-inch screen by a BMW-style knob and shortcut buttons on the centre console that help you use it safely while driving. If you want satellite navigation, you’ll have to pay for it as a pricey option, although that does include Apple CarPlay and various ‘Mini Connected’ services, such as Real Time Traffic Information.
Then again, if you are tempted to do that, you might be better off stumping up even more to upgrade to the top-spec Navigation Plus Pack, which (alongside a host of other extras) includes an 8.8-inch screen, which is sharper, faster and has 3D maps.
Less high-tech is the access to the Mini’s rear seats: anyone wanting to sit back there will need to be a champion gymnast to work their way through all the necessary contortions. Admittedly, once you’re safely in place, there is enough room for a couple of adults, but you should consider the Mini five-door if you’ll need to use the back seats regularly. To make matters worse, the Mini three-door’s boot space is absolutely tiny – it’s even smaller than a tiny VW Up’s load space!
Wherever you drive, the Mini’s best engine is a 1.5-litre petrol engine that you can get in Cooper models. It sounds sporty, accelerates well and is cheap to run. You get a 2.0-litre petrol in faster Cooper S models, but while you’ll enjoy its performance you’ll not enjoy its higher running costs.
Whichever engine you pick, the Mini’s a safe car, and an optional safety pack adds automatic emergency braking to keep you and your pride and joy safe.
And you’ll want to, because few other small cars make you feel as good about owning them as a Mini does. And so long as you can put up with its small boot and relatively firm suspension then it’s a fantastic, charming and fun small car.
One of the most welcome pieces of news is that the revisions to the Mini range in 2018 mean that every model has a 6.5-inch colour display right in the middle of the dashboard. The touchscreen menus are easy to navigate through, but the rotary click wheel controller on the centre console is a little too far to reach if you’re tall. Even more frustrating, however, is the fact that, the central armrest in its lowest setting completely covers the click wheel and the handy shortcut buttons.
Bluetooth connectivity is standard, but you can’t get Android Auto at all, regardless of which optional extras you pay for.
If you’re an iPhone devotee, this isn’t a problem, but for Apple CarPlay you’ll still have to pay extra for one of the two optional Navigation packs. The more basic pack isn’t cheap, but the Navigation Plus pack will set you back quite a bit more again. However, you may well think it’s worth the money because the package also includes a beautifully detailed 8.8-inch touchscreen display with 3D graphics, as well as a host of ‘Mini Connected’ services, such as Real Time Traffic Information.
If you add on the Mini Excitement package (included in the Pepper and Chilli packs) the central screen is surrounded by an LED ring that changes colour depending on what the system’s doing and which driving mode you’re in – green for eco and red for sportier setups.
As a further option on top of either package, you can also get a head-up display. And, if the standard stereo (which includes DAB digital radio) isn’t good enough for you, it’s worth upgrading to the thumping Harman Kardon system, which has 12 speakers – including two bass speakers under the front seats.