Mini hatchback long-term test

The Mini hatchback is consistently among the UK's best-selling small cars, but is a recent update enough to help it challenge the class leaders? We've got four months to find out...

Mini hatchback parked up
  • The car Mini 3dr Cooper Classic
  • Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor
  • Why it’s here To see if a recent facelift is enough to elevate the Mini to small car class honours
  • Needs to Make urban commuting a joy, while also being comfortable and practical enough for longer motorway trips

Price £18,210 Price as tested £24,820 Miles covered 3322 Official fuel economy 54.3mpg Test economy 36.6mpg Options Navigation Plus Pack (£2000), Comfort Plus Pack (£1600), automatic gearbox (£1400), 17in Cosmos alloy wheels (£1000), darkened rear glass (£250), Mini driving modes (£200), piano black interior trim (£160) 

29 November 2018 – Introducing the money-saving Mini

In some cases, smaller is better, and one situation in which that adage proves accurate is when you’re trying to park in central London for free. Most of us consider that phrase to be a contradiction in terms, but hear me out.

If you frequent the West End as often as I do, you begin to notice that a lot of the streets with parking – often running parallel to or directly behind the rows of theatres – become free to use after 6:30pm. You also notice that the spaces available are bleedin’ small. Too small, say, for the Mazda CX-5 I ran earlier this year or the Audi Q5 I had before that.

But in a Mini hatchback? It’s a breeze. Well, with one annoyance. When I select reverse in my car, the passenger side wing mirror automatically dips to give me a good view of the kerb and thus save my alloy wheels from making contact with the pavement, but it never gets the angle quite right. I always have to give the mirror some final adjustments, so I might as well have done the job myself. Still, getting into these small spaces has helped me to save, I reckon, at least £50 in parking fees this month alone, so I’m willing to put up with the semi-helpful mirror.

I’ve also found a new game to play, because, just like the BMW X2 I ran previously, my Mini features a ‘green’ driving mode, which dulls the accelerator pedal and lets the gearbox shift into a higher gear sooner (among other things). It also tells you how much further you can go on a tank of fuel thanks to your light-footed driving and awards you star ratings for smooth acceleration and anticipating the road ahead (coasting to a stop rather than braking, for example).

Mini hatchback infotainment screen

Now, I don’t wish to brag, but you’re reading the words of a double five-star driver here, folks. On half a tank of fuel, I've so far ‘reclaimed’ four extra miles by driving carefully, meaning that if I continue on that path for the other half, I can do a day of free commuting to and from the What Car? office. Another win for the Mini.

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