Mini 5dr hatchback long-term test: report 2

A facelift earlier this year gave the Mini hatchback new technology and revised looks inside and out. So, do these changes keep it feeling fresh?...

2021 Mini Hatchback 5dr Cooper Sport Long Term front static

The car Mini 5dr hatchback Cooper Sport Run by Chris Haining, sub-editor

Why it’s here To see if the iconic Mini still has what it takes to compete in a world that cares about more than just image.

Needs to Keep its driver entertained on twisty roads, as well as shrugging off motorways comfortably and economically.

Mileage 1831 List price £21,205 Target price £20,761 Price as tested £27,385 Test economy 38.78 mpg Official economy 49.6 mpg 

15 July 2021 – Wolf's clothing

When I head out for my morning run (well, run is perhaps a strong word – jog, maybe trot), I sport all the apparel of a true athlete. Decked out in sweat-wicking shorts and tee, and wearing supportive, lightweight running shoes, the only giveaway that I’m not ready for the Olympics is how I look like a dangerously overheated physical wreck as I stumble gracelessly along.

2021 Mini 5dr Hatch long-term front detail

What I’m saying is that one’s attire doesn’t always reflect one’s true self, and that’s equally true of my five-door Mini Cooper Sport. It wears one of the raciest suits of clothes in the brand’s wardrobe; its aggressive-looking bodykit includes a deep front spoiler, a rear aerodynamic diffuser and a roof spoiler that would embarrass a British Touring Car Championship entrant, as well as a liberal scattering of John Cooper Works badges. The latter, you might remember, were once reserved for the very looniest models of the Mini lineup, where they signified big power and no-compromise sportiness.

More than once, people have clocked those badges and commented on the unhinged monster that sits on my drive, and I’ve found myself explaining that my car isn’t actually quite what it looks like. Its 134bhp, three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine is actually only the mid-range mill of the lineup (the top engine is a 168bhp 2.0-litre), and there’s no 231bhp John Cooper Works version available at all with five doors. Honestly, though, my car really doesn’t need any more power.

2021 Mini Hatchback 5dr Cooper Sport Long Term rear static

I’ve grown very fond of three-cylinder engines over the years, and my Mini’s is a corker. It sounds terrific and delivers its pulling power in a very wholesome way, with a big slug of grunt arriving before the rev counter needle is very far around the dial. It’s perfectly suited to the sweeping roads of my corner of Essex, and the gearshift’s meaty, positive action is equally satisfying. 

So, while my Mini is guilty of being more about show than go when it comes to accelerative bragging rights, from now on I might just keep that fact to myself. It may be a bit of a fraud, but it’s better suited to its sportswear than I am to mine.

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