Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
(At first, we were going to compare the MINI Cooper S 5-Door against the Fiat 500 Turbo as you may well have noticed from the photographs. After a long photo shoot and a lengthy debate, we ended up scrapping the idea because the two hatches were spec'd way too differently. The MINI had a manual, two extra doors, a bigger boot, and a much more powerful engine, while the Fiat carried an automatic with subpar engine output. It would've been fair to compare a 3-Door MINI Cooper S against the Abarth, but none of those press vehicles were available at the time. Hence we split it into two separate reviews but you'll still see pictures of their cute little faces together.)
The thought of a MINI erection, well, it's always been an oxymoron that puzzled me. See back in the day, MINIs were supposed to be, you know, small and petite. They were easy to park and swift to maneuver with their McNugget proportions. That's what made them so enticing in the first place. Nobody cared that you couldn't fit many passengers inside or that tall people would feel cramped and uncomfortable. It was a MINI in vogue.
Fast-forward to 2015 and MINIs are getting larger by the second. Have the customers just been getting pickier? Oh, you want a MINI but demand more ground clearance that can brace the Canadian winter? Well there's a MINI Countryman with all-wheel drive for you. Need a MINI with a luscious boot for weekend trips? Here, have a Clubman. Want a traditional-sized MINI but demand four doors and a rear hatch? You can have one!
Wait what? That's right - the MINI Cooper now comes with a 5-door model (the fifth door is the rear hatch opening) to satisfy the needs of practicality - or for growing families that want to fit more babies in their rear seats. Regardless of the reason, your prayers have been answered.
Adding two extra doors meant a little chassis restructuring was in order. Let's just run through the gamut of changes: the wheelbase has been stretched by 72mm, the length swelled by 161mm, its gained 43 kg, interior headroom jumped by 15mm, width by 61mm so you're not stuck cozying next to your passenger or fighting for armrests, and the luggage compartment ballooned by 67 L for a total of 278 L of cargo carrying space, all for an additional $1,250 over the 3-door model. Not bad right? But generally (and ironically) speaking, the MINI has become not so mini anymore.
For better or for worse, we'll have to see what the sales numbers have to say but I'll be honest, I see great potential. At first glance, this 5-door could easily be mistaken as the 3-door. The only actual giveaway is spotting the extra pair of shiny door handles. Other than that, it looks like your basic 3-door hardtop. Complete with white bonnet stripes ($350), a twin-pipe exhaust and deceivingly innocent looks, the Cooper S trim looks astonishingly aggressive. All our tester needs are those rally-inspired Driving Lights ($589) - or maybe I've been watching too much Italian Job.
Thanks to the enlargement, the interior has opened up quite a lot. There's an abundance of headroom now and you feel like you're sitting more at sedan height on the roads. Then again, anything has more headroom than that Fiat 500 Turbo we just tested. Ingress and egress through the small rectangular portals that MINI calls doors lacks any drama, and adults will find comfort in the rear seats thanks to the added girth and extended flat roof. If you find yourself needing to transport some goodies, fold down the 60/40 rear seats and you'll find that the amount of cargo room to be pretty impressive. Golf clubs and stepladders are welcome here.
The seats are well bolstered and the dashboard is tastefully arranged. In fact, everything in the MINI feels like a video game. Ambient lighting switches are up top, airplane-inspired toggles are at the bottom, circular dials run their way around and there's even a lava lamp display that replaced the iconic center speedometer. The lights will change and flicker with every driver input such as flooring the gas pedal or toying with the HVAC controls. The cabin is just littered with visual creativity but I can understand why those looking for a more somber demeanor out of the cars might think otherwise.
I'd do without the center armrest option. It's positioned too high up and it gets in the way of the gear shifter and rotary dial controls. It's unfortunate that it can't be detached or stowed away because it also blocks me from properly reaching the handbrake. MINI has always had a hard time getting their center console design to be ergonomically sound and from the looks of it, they are still struggling here.
Our MINI Cooper S tester came equipped with the optional Head-up Display (HUD) as part of the Visibility Package ($1,200). It's similar to the ones used in Mazdas with their pop-up screen but it's always been a bit tacky for looking like a laser gun visor. However, unlike the flimsy immobile screen found in the Mazdas, MINI allows you to adjust the display's height, rotation, choose what you want displayed, and give you the ability to stow the HUD away with the flip of a switch. It's good to have options.
Two engines are available for the 5-door MINI. The Cooper gets the turbocharged 3-cylinder engine good for 134 hp and 162 lb-ft, while the Cooper S gets the more dynamic turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 189 hp and 207 lb-ft. Both can be paired with a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual - our tester came with the latter. Maximum torque is available so early on at 1,250 rpm that the MINI feels more like a naturally aspirated V6 with such a wealth of low-end grunt. It keeps pulling past the midrange too but quickly loses steam after 5,000 rpm. I'm happy to report that the extra weight and length from the extra doors haven't done much to ruin the driving experience either. Pocket rocket is an accurate way to describe it. Scrap that, medium-sized rocket.
The manual shifter is on the clunky side in terms of design and grip. The shifts are smooth but the throws are quite long. It's certainly not as rapid or as rewarding as BMW's own shifter. With the MINI, it feels more like you're mashing it into gear rather than locking it down. The pedal box however is nice and snug - it's always a sight to behold three pedals - and they are positioned fairly close together for effortless heel-toe downshifts. The clutch pedal however carries a lot of dead space but it's forgiving and lacks any sudden jerks when changing gears. It's a great beginner's car for drivers learning to operate a manual gearbox, and I highly encourage that last part. Steering is on the numb side but it can be slightly remedied when changing the MINI into Sport mode. Now if someone says it drives like a "go-kart" again, I'm going to rip my hair out.
The cabin is fairly rowdy and poorly insulated when on the move - even the Fiat's cabin was quieter. You'll need the audio turned up to drown out the exterior noise, and you'll be happy to know the optional Harmon Kardon speakers ($750) are quite capable. On the bright side, there's less engine droning on the highways than the Fiat and the full-frame windows and stiffened up chassis add to a rattle-free cabin.
Fuel economy? It wasn't bad. We averaged 10.0 L/100km on the dot with a bias towards city driving. The Eco Start/Stop system really helped us out at red lights. Due to the turbocharger, the MINI requires a minimum of 89-octane fuel and 91-octane is recommended for the best performance. A week's fill-up depleted our wallet by around $65.
There are so many ways to configure your MINI that you could spend hours piecing together the perfect combination to suit your needs. The 5-door option is now part of that lengthy list and it's nice to know that the extra length hasn't intruded in the performance or the MINI's driving excellence. The 5-door looks nearly identical to the 3-door too, so what excuse do you have in not opting for the former? The Cooper S variant is the way to go - there's no alternative to the 4-cylinder's low-end torque assault. Bonnet stripes are also a must, so is the Wired Package ($1,400) that includes that huge 8-inch center display, Bluetooth and Navigation. The Essentials Package ($1,200) is a recommended one too with a panoramic roof, heated front seats, and front and rear fog lights. You can easily do without a rear view camera or head-up display.
Our tester rings out at $34,300, but configure it the way I want (with less equipment and those rally driving-lights, yes!), the price tag lowers down to $31,330 without freight or PDI. The flood of options makes the low starting price of $26,740 for the Cooper S look rather deceiving. There are many other 5-door hatches on the market that will offer more bang for your buck like the Volkswagen Golf or the Ford Fiesta. But they're not nearly as exciting to drive as the MINI. Just be careful of those options. They stack up quickly - something to consider if you're one of those that can be easily persuaded by all the fancy marbles you can have in one box.
型号 Model: 2015 MINI Cooper S 5-Door
顏色 Paint Type: Deep Blue Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $26,740
試車售價 Price as Tested: $34,330
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,567
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,013 / 1,727 / 1,425
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,329
引擎 Engine: 4-Cylinder 16 Valve Twin Scroll Turbo
最大馬力 Horsepower: 189 hp @ 4,700 - 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Ventilated disc (294 mm)
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid disc (259 mm)
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 9.2 / 7.0 / 8.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 195/55 R16