- No other small hatch can match MINI's badge appeal
- Upmarket and comfortable cabin
- John Cooper Works models are very rapid
- Electric version has limited range
- Cramped in the back seats for adults
- Options can ramp up the price a lot
Of course, all of this is for nothing if the MINI Hatch 3-door isn’t able to tick off the basics demanded by a small hatch driver. So, despite those who still bemoan the fact this new interpretation of the MINI is far bigger than the 1950s original, it’s compact enough to cope with jam-packed city streets.
The MINI Hatch 3-door is also just about big enough inside now to deal with four passengers, whereas the first BMW-led MINI was really a 2+2 at best. Granted, the current car is still not going to win in a straight fight with key small car competitors for outright space, but the British-built hatch is just about good enough on this score.
Like some others in this class, MINI has now dropped its diesel engine offerings, so if you want to fill up from this pump you’ll need to look to the used market where there’s a vast choice of MINI hatches available. The present line-up is powered by a pair of Twinpower turbo petrol engines, each offered in different power outputs depending on which model you go for.
The MINI Hatch 3-door One and Cooper share a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with 102PS for the base model and a sprightlier 136PS in the Cooper. We’d take the Cooper every time unless you are on a strict budget. Move up to the Cooper S and it has a 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor with 192PS to put it into the heart of compact hot hatch territory. For those who want to see off the MINI’s performance rivals, the 231PS John Cooper Works model has the firepower and pace to do so.
You could also go another way with power for the MINI Hatch 3-door in the shape of the aptly named Electric. It comes with a 184PS electric motor that gives it similar performance to the petrol Cooper model but with zero tailpipe emissions. However, its 145-mile range between charges and hefty price tag, even by MINI standards, will put off as many as it attracts.
With any MINI, the appeal is as much about creating your own version of the car as it is about the more mundane practicalities of life. In this respect, the current MINI Hatch 3-door is much the same as those that went before it thanks to a raft of optional extras and upgrade packs for everything from the styling to the infotainment and even the way it handles.
This might not sell the MINI Hatch 3-door to those who simply want the most useful car for their needs, but there are lots of drivers out there who aspire to the MINI. Its premium image, entertaining drive and strong residual values see that it maintains this.
Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of MINI Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of MINI hatchbacks for sale. If you're looking for the five-door version, you need our MINI Hatch 5dr review while the EV version is covered in our MINI Electric review.
Is the MINI 3-door Hatch right for you?
If you are considering a MINI Hatch 3-door with practicality in mind, you are either barking up the wrong arboreal postcode or are very optimistic. Simply put, the MINI Hatch 3-door is not the most spacious car by a long shot when it comes to carrying more than one passenger or even a decent amount of shopping unless you forego some back seat space.
On the other hand, if you’re after a car with a huge sense of fun and one that dishes up handling to make you smile in even its most basic form, join the very long queue for this car. The MINI Hatch 3-door has a big following thanks to its looks, but it backs it up with a great drive and premium feel that takes all the best bits from its BMW parent and distils them into a small hatch.
The engines are zesty and economical, there’s a good amount of standard kit and, dare we say, just enough room in the rear nowadays to accommodate a young family of four.
What’s the best MINI 3-door Hatch model/engine to choose?
In 2019 the MINI line up was revised and the One model with its 102PS 1.5-litre Twinpower turbo petrol engine was dropped. It’s fine around town and for those wanting to get in on the MINI band wagon at the lowest cost.
Now the range starts with the Cooper and its 136PS version of the same three-cylinder 1.5-litre motor, which is the option we'd choose anyway for its stronger, more effortless performance on motorways.
The MINI Hatch 3-door Cooper is also more than well equipped for most needs and it can be topped up with a couple of choice options packs. In this way, you can have all the brilliant handling fun, comfort and quality that a MINI has to offer without breaking the bank.
Some will want the extra oomph of the MINI Hatch 3-door Cooper S or John Cooper Works models, but we reckon their firmer suspension makes them a little wearing day in, day out. As for the electric model, it’s cheap to run once you get over the high initial cost of the car, but its limited battery range restricts its real-world use to urban driving.
What other cars are similar to the MINI 3-door Hatch?
There is a long list of fine small hatchbacks that we could reel off here, but the most likely alternative a MINI Hatch 3-door customer will consider is the Audi A1. This is down to the MINI’s premium approach that means so many of its mainstream competitors will never get a look in on most people’s shortlists. With the Audi, you get a high-grade badge, classy cabin with more interior space, and a selection of engines from frugal to fast.
On the other hand, if you can divert your mind from the premium lure of the MINI, both the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, as well as the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio, have plenty to offer. All are roomy and zoomy enough to be fun.
The central infotainment screen is easy to read and the main heating controls use rotary dials that are instinctive to adjust the temperature and fan speed. Beneath this, the toggle switch to start the engine is not so obvious to use until you have spent a little time with the car.
This generation of MINI Hatch 3-door has a lower-set driving position, which some might find tough on the knees when getting out, but it’s comfortable for most people. There’s plenty of adjustment for the seat, including for height, and the steering wheel, so shuffling them about soon hones the driving position to your size and frame.
However, no amount of moving the seat and steering wheel can alter how thick the windscreen and other pillars are. Those either side of the windscreen can be a real hindrance when pulling out of junctions at a slight angle, leading the driver to fidget in the seat for a better view.
It’s a similar story with the rear pillars when changing lane on the motorway or backing into a parking space. However, there is plenty of room for the driver’s legs, shoulder and head.