mReview: 2021 MINI One 5-door - Good Things Come in Small Packages
MINI has always been one of those iconic car brands, famous for its lovable and fun cars since its inception in 1969.
Their cars are instantly recognisable, and even if someone doesn’t have any clue about this British brand, chances are you’ll hear them go, “Wow that’s a cute car!”
This 5-door One is the brand’s entry model into the MINI family, now with a modern face-lift to boast about. The question is, is it an appealing choice for customers looking for a more practical MINI?
So what’s changed?
The exterior has remained largely the same, albeit with minor styling tweaks. The overall design facade is minimalistic and clean, and even though it has a modern makeover, this car still retains that signature MINI design that people love.
Most of the design changes are centred around the front, with the car now sporting a larger front grille with black trim. The fog lights are also gone, replaced with thin vertical air intakes.
Customisation is at the forefront of MINI's identity, and this allows customers to spec their cars up to whatever they desire. This test unit comes with cool 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels, which is one of 9 rim options available.
This particular paint option is dubbed “Island Blue”, one of the many bright and funky colours that MINI offers for their cars.
For storage, you get 278-litres of boot space and the option of a flat boot floor. Decent for a car in its class, but the narrow opening may pose issues when trying to load bulkier items. The seats fold down 60:40 too if more space is required during those adventurous furniture trips.
They make look the same, but the 5-door model is actually longer than its 3-door sibling too. The result is a slightly larger boot, which may not seem like much, but in a compact car, every tiny bit of extra space matters!
Inside, you feel flamboyant and funky
MINI chose to focus most of its attention on the interior when face-lifting the One, and the result is an extremely pleasant cabin.
The front seats are really comfortable and offer good bolster support to keep you in place when cornering. Plus, the nice Chester leather finish and sport seats all come as standard!
It’s actually so nice, that the only way you can tell that this is an entry-level model, is that you do not get electric seat controls.
The main battle station is a meaty and commanding steering wheel that feels nice to hold and is dotted with simple, easy-to-understand function buttons.
Paddle shifters are absent though on this base model. Those are only offered on the more feisty and range-topping Cooper S.
Keeping in trend with this aesthetic, the instrument cluster is rather funky looking. It’s not fully digital, but it sort of gives you the illusion that it is. MINI did an excellent job by concealing the analogue tachometer.
The left is your standard RPM gauge, but the right is actually your fuel gauge, and this is by far the biggest fuel gauge we have ever come across. You will never have to worry about forgetting to refill ever again.
The centre display is a responsive 8.8-inch touchscreen, You still get traditional buttons and rotary dials to control it too. This means you can change the volume in this car with ease, and not needing to mash the screen repeatedly like in other cars.
You get wireless Apple CarPlay, but no Android Auto. If you're one of those people who gotten their hands on the spanking new iPhone 13, you're in luck.
However, even if you are rocking an Android phone, you still get native navigation and map functions in this car. This is actually getting increasingly uncommon in new cars nowadays and is a welcome sight in the One.
Although the front of the MINI One is really comfortable, the same cannot be said for the back. This is a hatchback after all.
The car does have “three” seats, and it even has three seat belts. But, the middle seat should only be used in emergencies. You do not get any legroom due to the raised centre console, meaning the middle guy will have to awkwardly invade the legroom of the other two rear passengers.
So while you can ferry 4 people in this car, in most situations you’ll be better off keeping this as a 2-seater.
Worthy of the title “Hot Hatch”?
Don’t expect much oomph from a car like this, as it only has 101bhp and 190Nm of torque, all of which is sent to the front wheels. But, even for a "not hot'' hatch this car still does a respectable job of getting off the line.
You get three driving modes, Sport, Mid and Eco, with power mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The overall package is responsive, rowing through the gears smoothly as you accelerate.
One thing that is really enjoyable is the steering, which is well-weighted regardless of driving mode. It gives you that go-kart sensation, and you can really feel the car as you take it through twisty corners. However, if you’re the type who likes a light and weightless steering feel, this MINI might not be your cup of tea.
Even though it is a fun car while cornering, it’s not the same story while cruising at higher speeds, with the steering feeling rather twitchy. It can make you feel nervous when you’re in the fast lane on the expressway.
The sporty suspension works well in tandem with the steering, and it is much more comfortable than the model’s predecessor, where one major complaint was its notoriously harsh ride.
So while it is a little sluggish, the MINI One still offers loads of fun while driving. You won't be able to keep up with the Golf GTI that lined up beside you at the lights, but at the end of the day, you'll have a smile on your face.
Mini in size, large in functionality
The car is an absolute breeze to park due to its size. To make life even easier, the car comes with a crisp rear-view camera and parking sensors.
Fuel economy is decent too. We've been driving this around for a few days, and it averages out to 9.5l/100km.
While the rear is undoubtedly cramped, this is still a 5-door MINI after all. This means that your passengers won't have to contour their bodies in order to get into the back seats, unlike traditional 3-door variants.
MINI even offers an app where you can remotely control features on the car. The features are not instantaneous, but you can perform functions like unlocking the doors without using the key fob. Plus, the app even updates the last known location of where the car was parked, so you’ll know where your car is all the time!
The MINI app also lets you pre-amp future destinations, and these can be sent to your car remotely. Once you fire up the car, click the notification and the navigation system will input the saved destination.
All grown up, but still a child at heart
If you want a standard premium hatchback, you'll probably pick the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series or Mercedes A-class. But, if you want something unique, something that stands out from the crowd, something that is blue in a sea of red, then this MINI might be for you.
It’s like when you’re buying a new phone, you skip the typical black or white, and instead pick the bright colourful option. You choose it because it looks special; it looks cool.
The MINI One 5-door is without a doubt an enjoyable driver's car, plus you get the added functionality and convenience of 2 more doors and a bigger boot than its 3-door sibling.
What’s that saying again? Good things come in small packages.
Engine: 1,499cc 3-cylinder in-line 12-valve TwinPower, Turbocharged
Power: 101bhp @ 3,900-6,500rpm
Torque: 190Nm @ 1,380-3600rpm
Fuel Consumption: 19.2km/L
Top Speed: 192km/h
Drivetrain: 7 Speed Auto DCT; Front Wheel Drive
Brakes (Front): Ventilated Disc
Brakes (Rear): Disc
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,023mm x 1,727mm x 1,425mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 40 Litres
Boot Capacity: 278 Litres
Auto start-stop engine
Driving Assistant with Person & Approach Control Warning
Light City Braking Function
Lane Departure Warning with Steering Vibration
MINI Driving Modes
Nappa Leather Steering Wheel
Prices are accurate at the time of writing
Sean Loo (@cookiesncremee)
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