Read full verdict
- Enhanced tech offering
- So much fun to drive
- No Android Auto
- Screen doesn’t really make great use of space in the dash
Mini has refreshed the Hatch, the 3-door model that most closely resembles the British classic, loading the 2018 model with more tech, more premium features and a dab more iconic design compared to the the 2014 version.
Bonkers British design
From the exterior, the Hatch otherwise hasn’t changed a huge amount. This new version is a facelift, a nip and tuck rather than a dramatic rethinking. BMW (Mini’s parent company) finds itself in a fortunate position of having a now iconic interpretation of a classic (a rare thing indeed), where preservation is as important as progression.
The first thing you’ll spot is the taillights: LED rears arranged to look like the Union Flag (standard in the UK, optional elsewhere). It might stir patriotic passion in your breast, it might just put a smile on your face, but it symbolises something that Mini has been very good at doing: being big on personality.
We love these lights. On any other car, they’d probably be dismissed as a little too gregarious, but here it’s a wonderful bit of personality. The front headlights (also LED as standard) now have a full ring of daytime driving lights for a more distinct signature on the road. Smart LED matrix lights are an option.
While pretty much every other panel of the car looks the same as before, this 2018 model is all about details. You can have personalised 3D printed wording on the side of the car, for example, with the Mini Yours Customised options, so you can give it more personality. Choosing bonnet stripes or a different colour roof is simple – and there are a lot of options across the Mini family for customisation.
For us it’s the basics that are still right: the compact nature, riding low on big wheels; the power bulge in the bonnet; and on the Cooper S specifically the additional air scoop and twin rear pipes. It looks great, it’s still a lot of fun to look at, it’s still a car with loads more personality than its rivals.
But there’s also something more subtle going on: it’s a hot hatch without the stigma. As accomplished as the Ford Fiesta ST or VW Polo GTI are, there’s a preconception that comes with those cars. Not so the Cooper S.
While the front seats give you plenty of space, we have to admit that in the 3-door Hatch the rear seat – with spaces for two bottoms – doesn’t provie a huge amount of legroom. It’s a little bit of a squeeze back there, so while you could get an adult in, it’s probably better for children.
All about technology upgrades
The 2018 Hatch’s interior is very much the same as it was in the 2014 model. Perhaps this is a downside of distinctive design, but with a small driver’s display cluster and a huge, round, central display top and centre of the dash, any change will really alter this car’s interior character.
Standard now, however, is a 6.5-inch display in the centre (on all Hatch models); this is upgraded to 8.8-inches when you opt for the Navigation Pack Plus (a £2000 extra). This sits in that central space, but we get the feeling that the space could be a little more efficiently used, reducing some of the plastic surroundings for a yet larger display. Perhaps Mini might consider a notched display design, brought into fashion by the latest Apple iPhone…Read more>>