Henley-on-Thames, England – Get ready. With the third-generation “new” Mini just out of the gate, we can expect parent company BMW to starting spitting out variations with the speed of a greased-up Gatling gun; and the culling of the old models with equal vigour.
We’re here in England to sample the second version of Mini to be built on this all-new front-drive platform that will be underpinning all future Minis and numerous BMWs.
It’s called the Mini 5 Door and is aimed at those who seek more utility with their Mini-ness. Compared with the three-door Coupe, it gets a wheelbase stretch of 72 mm (which translates to an equal increase in rear legroom), is 161 mm longer overall and the roofline is 11 mm higher. Luggage capacity behind the rear seats increases by 30 percent.
But wait. Haven’t we heard this story before in Mini-land? What about the Mini Clubman wagon-thingy that was introduced as a 2008 model? Uh, it’s just been killed off.
Okay. What of the five-door four-seat Countryman? That is now only available in the top $29,900 Cooper S ALL4 all-wheel-drive trim. With its elevated ride and roof height, Mini wants us to think of it more as a crossover anyway.
The 2015 Mini 5 door will arrive in Canada late 2014 in two variants – the three-cylinder 134 hp Cooper 5 door at $22,240 and the four-cylinder 189 hp Cooper S 5 door at $26,740. Both are turbocharged and both ask for premium fuel. For comparison, the 2015 Mini Cooper three-door hatch starts at $20,990 and the Cooper S at $25,490.
Mini is advertising the 5 Door as a five-seater, but don’t be fooled. I don’t think you could even squeeze three kids in the back seat with a clear conscience. Maybe three of the Seven Dwarfs, but even then they’d all be grumpy. That said, it’s perfectly suitable for two adults. Once through the smallish door openings, you’ll find nicely contoured seats and plenty of headroom. At nearly six-feet tall, I could easily “sit behind myself” with the driver’s chair adjusted comfortably.
I found the fabric front seats of these testers to be terrific. They also sported cool tartan bolsters.
Initially this lengthened Mini looks a little unusual to the eye, but after a day we began to appreciate its well-integrated lines and chic profile.
The Mini’s new dash sticks to the circular script inspired by the original car’s round central speedo, but materials and build quality are vastly improved. This is the first Mini I’ve driven in recent memory that hasn’t been plagued with a persistent dash rattle. Finally, it feels like a premium car in here.
2015 Mini 5 Door, dashboard, centre stack display. Click image to enlarge
Things have been moved around a bit from the last model. The window switches are now on the doors and there is an analogue speedometer (along with the tachometer) mounted on the steering column. Before, we either tried to decipher the indicator on the outer edge of the big central circle or looked at the digital speedo readout in front.
The manhole-sized central display now shows all the menus and info called up through the iDrive controller, replacing the fussy little joystick from the last model. The interface is easy to use and the graphics are great. These S cars had the crystal-clear 8.8-inch screen and the on-board navigation was excellent. The whole shebang is ringed a giant LED glow stick that changes colours depending on the drive mode or function you’re accessing. Turn down the temp and the left quadrant turns blue for a few seconds. In sport mode it apes a tachometer. Quite fun, really.