MINI Cooper S Review

The MINI Hatch has had a mid-life refresh; there’s not a huge amount of change, but perhaps that doesn’t matter, as this was a fun and efficient car anyway.

  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
  • MINI Cooper S
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:  MINI Cooper S 5-Door Hatch
  • Fuel:  Petrol
  • Fuel economy combined (NEDC):  45.6 mpg

Summary

  • Looks good on the outside; fun yet functional on the inside
  • Great to drive, yet with five doors, also practical
  • Cool new Union Jack rear lights
  • Not much to fault, but there are cheaper cars in this class

MINI Cooper SMINI Cooper S

Background

The MINI has had a mid-life refresh, not that most people would notice – perhaps with the exception of the new tail lights. The focus has been on areas such as new technology, design details, and personalisation elements; although the powertrains have also had some minor revisions. The MINI Hatch has usually been at the top of our list in its segment; are these changes enough to keep it there?

MINI Cooper SMINI Cooper S

Design & Engineering

Not much has changed on the outside, which is fine, because the MINI Hatch looked good anyway. However there is one new feature: the rear lights now have a ‘Union Jack’ design (for the UK market – perhaps it was felt that this wouldn’t be a strong selling point in Europe). This is a relatively minor change, but one that is cool and distinctive.

On the inside, the latest MINI dashboard has a fun appearance, but unlike some earlier MINI interiors, it’s now also functional.

Although it’s a MINI Hatch, with five doors it’s a reasonably practical size. It even has a decent-sized boot, with a ‘false floor’, which can be removed to make the boot deeper.

As well as the Union Jack design on the rear tail lights, this design is also illuminated on the glove compartment at night. Along with the different colours that appear around the central infomedia screen with different drive modes, the MINI interior is a fun place to be.

The Cooper S has a 4-cylinder, 2-litre petrol engine, with a 6-speed manual gearbox in our test car (as opposed to the 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine in the Cooper).

MINI Cooper SMINI Cooper S

MINI Cooper S Driving Experience

The best thing about the MINI is that it has always been fun to drive, and this is still true for the latest iteration. The satnav should have an option to plan routes with lots of corners, because this is where the MINI Hatch offers most enjoyment. The front-wheel drive chassis still offers that much over-quoted ‘go-kart’ feeling, but compared to previous generations of MINIs, the ride is more comfortable, and the overall refinement is much improved.

The Cooper S engine offers good performance, but this was accessed in our test car through a manual gearbox – even though one of the few new features on the latest updated MINI is a revised 7-speed Steptronic transmission. However the manual gearbox is very good, with the exception that it’s too easy to select reverse gear rather than first. In fact, this is probably one of the car’s few faults.

Other standard BMW/MINI expectations are met, including the driving position being good, the infomedia system being excellent, especially the satnav – helped by having a rotary controller rather than just relying on a touchscreen. Our test car also an effective head-up display. There are three drive modes: Sport, Mid and Green.

MINI Cooper SMINI Cooper S

MINI Cooper S Economy and Emissions

The official NEDC combined fuel economy for the MINI Cooper S 5-Door Hatch is 45.6 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 141 g/km. We managed to achieve 46.0mpg at 70mph, and 50mpg on a combination of motorways and A-roads. However after a week of mixed driving these impressive figures were brought down to an average of 36.7mpg. This shows that it is possible to achieve decent economy if driven carefully, but you’ll probably be having too much fun to do that.

MINI Cooper SMINI Cooper S

Price and Model Range

Prices for the MINI 5-Door Hatch start from £16,600, but the base price of our test car was £20,550. However options on our test car included White Silver paint (£525), leather interior (£590), Navigation Plus Pack (£2,000), Chili Pack (£2,000), Adaptive Suspension (£375), Reversing Assist camera (£255), Piano Black Exterior (£100), Anthracite headlining (£120), MINI Yours Interior Style Piano Black illuminated (£210), Harman Kardon Hi-Fi system (£590), and MINI Head-up Display (£490), resulting in a total of £6,140, and a price of £27,805. With First Registration Fee, Number Plates and Delivery, the total price was £28,585. We should note that more affordable cars in this segment are available.

There are three petrol engines and one diesel engine available for the MINI 5-Door Hatch.

MINI Cooper SMINI Cooper S

Conclusion

The mid-life refresh of the MINI Hatch hasn’t really resulted in many revolutionary changes. However perhaps the engineers were working on the theory of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, because the MINI Hatch was a very good car, and it remains a very good car. It’s fun to drive, it offers good performance, but it can also be efficient if driven carefully. In five-door form, it’s also practical. Perhaps the most interesting new feature to test would have been the latest 7-speed Steptronic transmission, but our test car had manual transmission.

So the MINI Cooper S 5-Door Hatch is an excellent all-round car, with very few faults, and so it achieves a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car facts and figures MINI Cooper S Review

  • Fuel economy extra urban (NEDC): TBC mpg
  • Fuel economy urban (NEDC): TBC mpg
  • Test economy: 36.7 mpg
  • CO2 emissions (NEDC): 141 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):  £205 year 1, £140 year 2 onwards
  • Weight:  1185 kg
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2018/19): TBC%
  • Price:  £20,550
  • Insurance group:  28
  • Power:  192 hp
  • Max speed:  146 mph
  • 0-62 mph:  6.9 seconds
  • Torque:  221 lb/ft
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor