We take the new Mini 5 Door for a spin. Here's what we thought.
What is it?
As its name makes amply clear, the 5 Door is quite literally a Mini with five doors. Aside from the addition of the rear doors, it also gains 161mm in overall length and 72mm in wheelbase over the more familiar 3 Door. Length is now up to 3,982mm and boot space has also increased to 278 litres. All of the above point to a Mini with a good degree of practicality. The last bit is important because it opens the doors to the Mini brand to those who think the 3 Door isn't versatile enough and the big Countryman isn't, well, Mini enough. But for all its added practicality, it doesn't look quite as cute as the 3 Door. Sure, this one carries all of Mini's latest design and styling touches, but the relatively long wheelbase does take some getting used to. The rear doors are also not the largest, which along with the small door aperture mean getting in and out aren't very elegant affairs. Access to the rear seats is better than in the 3 Door, for sure, but not by as big a margin as you'd expect. It's a similar story when talking about space in the back. It betters the 3 Door by a fair margin but isn't still generous in terms of knee or shoulder room. The small windows don't help matters much and the seats could also do with a longer squab. Thankfully, the front portion of the cabin is a whole lot nicer. The neo-retro dashboard (shared with the 3 Door) is well laid out, outside visibility is good and material quality, on the whole, is fantastic. But, like other Minis, you'll have to pay a lot to bring the it upto spec. The base car comes with few features as standard, and you'll have to pay (a lot) to have items like the beautifully presented infotainment system, heads-up display and leather seats on your car. The front seats are supportive and well bolstered but don't come with electric adjust.
What is it like to drive?
Mini has launched the 5 Door in India with a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that makes 114bhp at 4,000rpm and 27.5kgm at 1750rpm. Factor in the 1190kg kerb weight and the power and torque figures seem underwhelming. Truth is, it doesn't do bad on performance and refinement is excellent for a three-pot motor. There's virtually no turbo lag at low revs and, if you press on, there's a meaty mid-range to exploit. The engine will also rev to a satisfactory 4,500rpm in the sportiest of the driving modes. Gearshifts on the six-speed automatic gearbox are quick enough too. The new car also handles like a Mini should. Agreed, it is not as agile as the 3 Door, but it's 90 percent there, which, by any yardstick makes this a driver's delight. The direct steering and sharp handling are thoroughly rewarding on a bunch of corners. In fact, it is so accomplished in the dynamics department that you can't help but wish the engine had more zing to match the chassis' abilities. Energetic through the bends, it is also very sure-footed at serious highway speeds - the longer wheelbase makes it feel even more planted than the 3 Door. There's minimal up and down movement, and bump absorption is good for the most part. Sound insulation is amazing too.
Should I buy one?
The answer to that question depends on your willingness to part with big money for a not-so-big car. Because, as good as it is, it's a bit hard to recommend given its exorbitant Rs. 35.2 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) price. But if the price is not an issue, it does make for an interesting buy. While it's nowhere near the most practical of hatchbacks, the rear doors do add a great deal to everyday usability and, in a way, let you share the Mini experience with more people. By Mini experience, we specifically mean the go-kart handling that has been a hallmark of all Minis, old and new.However, if you can wait, we'd suggest you give the diesel engine a miss and hold out for the 189bhp, 2.0-litre turbo-petrol that comes early next year. Buzz is, the petrol version will be priced at par with the diesel, which would make the package a whole lot more appealing. Yes, even for Rs. 35 lakh.