- Personalization options
- Characterful little car
- BMW influence
- Choppy ride due to runflat tyres
- 'Mini' rear leg room
- Expensive options
Since the Mini’s rebirth in 2002 by parent company BMW, it has been a complete sales hit across the world thanks to a reputation for cute styling, go-kart like driving dynamics and more retro touches than any other cars on the road.
Now in its third modern generation, Mini updated its star car with new styling elements and interior tech. Here we test the entry level 2020 Mini Cooper 5-door to see if it can live up to the iconic Mini name.
Price & Specs: 7.0/10
The 2020 Mini Cooper 5-door starts off at $31,500 (plus on-road costs) for a Cooper with the standard six-speed manual – the seven-speed dual-clutch auto tested here adds another $2,500 for a total of $34,000 plus on-road costs (or around $38,000 on the road).
As standard, the 2020 Mini Cooper 5-door is reasonably well equipped with six airbags, low-speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay (no Android Auto for now), satellite navigation with live traffic, a reversing camera, cruise control, and auto headlights and wipers with auto high beam.
Like we’ve come to expect from the British brand, the opportunities to add more equipment and personalisation are almost endless. Everything from the ‘Chilli Red’ paint of our test car ($900) to stripes, contrasting roof colouring, different seat upholsteries, dash trims, etc can be customised to make your Mini truly yours. The black leather upholstery of our test car is one of many upholstery options, and costs $2,500.
Mini does group a lot of the extra equipment into packages, of which there are still many to choose from. The $2,300 Climate Pack adds a panoramic glass roof, heated front seats and privacy glass. The $2,400 Convenience Pack adds electric-folding mirrors, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, front and rear parking sensors, an alarm, tyre pressure monitoring, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors and LED headlights with cornering lights – we think this pack at least should be standard.
Then there’s the $2,500 Active Package fitted to our test car, which includes LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a front centre armrest, keyless entry and start and wireless charging.
If you really want more, you can also add the $2,000 Media Plus Package, which adds a colour heads-up display, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and the Mini Find Mate location tag system.
The list price our test car with all its options and automatic gearbox is $48,750 (plus on roads – so you’re looking at around $55k to drive it out of the dealership), which is expensive for such a small car. Choosing the entry level versions of the BMW 1 Series (which the Mini shares a platform with) and Mercedes-Benz A-Class would likely be less expensive, larger and better equipped.
Drive & Engine: 8.2/10
The Cooper variants in the Mini range feature a characterful and charming 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine that produces 100kW of power and 220Nm of torque. While it doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually a really great little engine – it’s efficient (5.4L/100km claimed on the combined cycle) and quiet, yet also surprisingly punchy with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.1 seconds.
Attempting to maintain the go-kart feel of previous models, the Cooper’s suspension is firm thanks to the standard fit run-flat tyres (even on the small 16-inch wheels of our test car) but you can option adaptive dampers for $700 to soften the ride significantly (we would).
The Mini does handle well though, and you can definitely have some fun in it – though the 141kW 2.0-litre turbo Cooper S is even more fun (for even more money – from $41,950 plus on-road costs). The steering is surprisingly heavy, though it does make the car feel quite solid.
Keener drivers will note that the Mini doesn’t feel as nimble as previous iterations of the car – and that’s because of the platform it sits on. In its current iteration, the Cooper feels somewhat like a Volkswagen Golf.
Thanks to its upright windows and relatively slim pillars, the Mini has good visibility in all directions, though the centre rear-view mirror is huge and can impede your forward vision.
Interior & Practicality: 7.0/10
While not the dynamic kings they once were, Minis feature excellent interiors that are high quality, full of tech and much more characterful than competitors. They’re an experience with their switchable ambient lighting, central light ring around the centre screen (which can be changed to display the rev levels, climate control or even the volume of the speakers), quality materials and just all around fun attitude.
Most things are soft to touch, including the lovely leather steering wheel, and the toggle switches for functions such as turning the car on make the interior feel more special too.
The word premium springs to mind, and unlike a Mercedes-Benz A-Class, there are no obvious signs of cost-cutting.
Of course, being a Mini, it’s not the largest interior and people under even six feet tall can struggle to fit properly in the rear seat – the legroom is non-existent, though headroom is reasonable. This is thanks to the largely relaxed driving position that puts the driver’s seat quite far back, but also because of the tiny rear doors. Seriously, we wonder why Mini developed a five-door when the doors are so small – our advice is to same some cash and stick with the more attractive three-door.
Thankfully, back seat passengers do have map pockets, door pockets and a singular cup holder in the middle of the middle passenger’s legroom. No false ambitions of practicality here; keep it to four occupants and light baggage.
The boot is reasonable for the car’s size though, with 278-litres of space which expands to 941-litres with the rear seats folded. The boot has a few clever touches too – it has an adjustable boot floor height so you can hide valuables and make the load floor flat with the seats folded, as well as the ability to push the rear seat backrest forward for more space (though a fairly uncomfortable angle for rear passengers).
Running Costs & Warranty: 6.5/10
Because modern day Mini products are mechanically similar to BMWs (Mini’s owner), they share the same three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and condition-based servicing, in which the car decides on when it needs a service (but one-year/15,000km is a general guide).
In an age where rivals such as Mercedes-Benz (let alone more mainstream brands such as Volkswagen) have moved to a five-year term, Mini and BMW’s warranty looks mean.
You do get three years of roadside assistance though, and service package (which we strongly recommend you purchase with your Mini – get it included in your deal) pricing is reasonable at $1,495 for five-years/80,000km of servicing.
Choosing the same pack on the BMW 118i is $1,550 and five-years servicing (with its longer 25,000km service intervals) on an A-Class is $3,500. The Mini service plans includes most items, though brake pads/discs, wiper blades and clutch discs/plates are further included in the $4,031 service ‘plus’ package.
2020 Mini Cooper 5-door DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.4/10
More grown up than before, Mini has come a long was since its debut in 1959. For those wanting a fun to drive small hatch that puts fun ahead of practicality, the 2020 Mini Cooper 5-door is a great option.
We prefer the three-door for its superior proportions and styling, but regardless the Cooper’s engine is a great unit that is both reasonably punchy and fuel efficient as well.
Make sure to check the whole Mini range to see which one fits you and your budget best – the Cooper S is even more fun for not a whole lot more money – but compared with the 1 Series and A-Class, the Mini is in a different league for personality. When you’re spending this much money on a small hatch, that counts for a lot.