The New 2014 Mini Hatch Review [Video]
The Mini Hatch is one of the biggest automotive success stories, becoming nothing less than a cult icon in the eyes of many. Now on its 3rd generation since its dramatic re-launch back in 2000. How does this new model promise to be better?
The Mini Hatch has always been about cheeky brand appeal, fun, if a bit rough around the edges, driving. The new 2014 Mini Hatch naturally bases itself on the usual Mini formula, but with some dynamic differences – here they have made the Mini more mature. This might sound at odds with the spirit of Mini-ness, but rest assured they have preserved the best aspects of what everyone knows and loves and combined it into a new model which is bigger, more refined, more eco-friendly, higher quality and generally just better all round. This is the all new and improved 2014 Mini Hatch.
At a glance you’ll think that not much has changed about its outward appearance -This is intentional. If they change the appearance too drastically then they risk alienating legions of loyal cult fans. It still retains all the obvious brand DNA of a Mini, but there are a few modern touches to update it. The most noticeable difference is the fact that it’s got a slightly higher and longer bonnet (due to new crash safety regulations) which makes it a little less ‘cute’ than before. Its generally longer by 98mm, wider by 44mm and 7mm taller. Obviously some will argue this is destroying the ‘Mini factor’ but when you pop inside you’ll see the benefits of the 28mm larger wheelbase. The access into the rear is easier, and you’ll instantly appreciate that it’s a lot less cramped inside with a decent amount of head and legroom in a space which fits 2 comfortable seats. This has finally made the Mini feel like a genuine 4 seater rather than a 2 seater with an after thought of backseats. Up in front, we find that the cabin is very different from before. The driving position is a bit more angled, the seats are more supportive, the dash looks smarter, cooler and more upmarket. There is a lot less obvious gimmics here too. The dinner plate central console is still there although now it simply houses the infotainment screen rather than the distinctive speedometer (which has been relocated to a more obvious place behind the steering wheel. This is definitely a much better arrangement. There is more storage around the cabin and a number of cool light features such as the fact that the new start/stop switch on the central console (which replaces the old and hard to get to ignition slot) pulses with red light before you turn it on. The boot space has always been a bugbear to anyone with a Mini. With the new Mini Hatch they have increased the space by 30% to 211ltrs. This still isn’t the biggest – it doesn’t quite measure up to the Citroen DS3 or Ford Fiesta standards but it’s still bigger than that of a Fiat 500. There is also a removable floor (which can be set to 2 different heights) and the ability to extend the cargo space by dropping the rear bench to reveal a respectable 731ltrs. These welcome changes have ensured that the Mini Hatch has shot up the practicality stakes and is one of the key reasons why we can now describe the 2014 Mini Hatch as a ‘mature’ Mini.
People might be afraid at this point that the Mini’s preoccupation with maturity might extend to the driving, which has always been based around cheeky fun. Well yes and no. The characteristic darty steering and eager throttle are back with a vengeance (as is the bumpy ride over rough surfaces – although this can be kept to a minimum by investing extras such as the Mini Driving Mode system) and the essential experience remains as naughty and involving as ever and the breaking is incredible. The redesigned chassis and extra refinement have done wonders to make the Mini Hatch more adept at hitting longer distances on the open road – something not a lot of superminis can confidently claim. There is some fantastically good noise coming from the range of 3 cylinder engines as you zip about. The line-up consists of 4 variants. At entry level we have the 1.2ltr petrol Mini (0-62mph in 9.9 seconds/top speed of 121mph… as the base model you’ve got to admit that’s nice and punchy!) then there is the Mini 1D and Mini Cooper D 1.5ltr diesel models (0-62mph in 11 or 9.2 seconds respectively/top speeds of 118 or 127mph). Then there is the inevitably popular 1.5ltr Mini Cooper which houses the same petrol component used in the BMW i8 supercar (7.2 secs/130mph). At the top of the range there is the 192bhp 2.0ltr Mini Cooper S and the same engine tuned up to a zesty 215bhp with the John Cooper Works model (6.8s secs/146mph – that’s a lot of power for such a small car). The engines are much more eco-friendly (the best obviously being the diesel model at 92g/pk and 80mpg), especially with the optional Mini Driving Mode system that has an economy focused ‘Green’ mode. It’s fair to say that the mechanics can finally match up to the big style factor of owning a Mini.
All in all, what’s the lowdown with the 2014 Mini Hatch? The new Mini Hatch has grown up – but more in a ‘you are what you feel’ kind of way. It’s bigger, more refined, more efficient, more practical and it feels a lot more upmarket; but it’s not lacking in that essential mini-esque fun factor either and still proves to be a zippy and entertaining drive. On top of that, its comfier to take further distances and has a good level of everyday practicality now. All in all the 2014 Mini Hatch is a vastly improved vehicle from its predecessor that certainly proves itself to be a special slice of British supermini class!
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