March 29, 2016 @ 05:24 PM

Review: MINI Cooper S 5dr – A case of two doors too many?

With extra two doors at the back and a bigger boot, the Mini has become more practical than ever. But is it in danger of becoming boring?

The very first thing I did after being shown to the Mini Cooper S 5 Door is to open the rear doors. This isn’t anything new and in truth, it is something that I always do whenever I’m taking a test car; with the exception of three-door cars for obvious reasons. The reason for this is simple: to secure my Crumpler on the floor of the vehicle and to shove an umbrella inside just in case.

It is different this time round. The Mini 5dr is extended by 215mm from nose to tail compared to the standard hatch. Wheelbase is also lengthened by 72mm, more room for feet and knees. The boot space also got blown up by another 67-litres to make it 278-litres. In spite of the added-on numbers, from the outside, at least, the Mini does look long but not taller or wider; and never resembles the Countryman in any way in spite both having the same amount of doors.

Speaking of which, the rear doors of the Mini 5dr are comically small and the opening seems a tight squeeze. Nevertheless, the mini (sic) doors open to a wider angle that makes getting it, including the securing of the bag, surprisingly easy. Getting out, however, needs some contortion of the legs before sliding the torso out of the car.

Out of curiosity, I jump into the rear; my knees are just intruding the front’s backrest, and close the door. It is really tight; there’s not much space left between my shoulder and the door. The huge transmission tunnel that runs from front to rear successfully puts a cocoon on each of the rear seats, which leads to the conclusion that the 5dr can only seat a maximum of four people. Or if you must, only a child can slot into the middle. Having said that, I could endure sitting at the back if the journey isn’t going to be long. I could also hazard a guess that people blessed with smaller stature would find the back comfortable. 

Get up front and it returns to the familiar Mini we all know and love. The flick switches and rotary knobs are all there, as well as Mini’s more colourful version of the iDrive, which includes Mini Connected that lets you play games while driving — I cannot get enough of it. The large round colour screen sits in the middle and the most important gauges are mounted on the steering wheel column. The quality is top notch and it is hard to pick a fault with what essentially is a BMW, albeit a much less serious one.

By gaining two extra doors, has the Mini lost its quirky dynamics? Put that worry to rest, you can still chuck it into the corners and be confident that it’ll go around the bend like any of the Mini’s you’ve driven. Dive into the corner with a light dusting of enthusiasm and the Mini ‘rewards’ you with a snappy tail. Sharp and quick steering will turn the Mini into a dart and the keenness of the chassis puts body roll high up the critically endangered list.

Despite the same underpinnings, the 5dr rides firmer than the three-door hatch I drove last year. And you only need to run over a patch of damaged road to experience the impression of going off-road.

There are two Mini 5dr variants available for purchase. The Cooper comes with the intrepid 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged engine. I’m driving the Cooper S that loads the hatchback with 192 horses and 280Nm of torque bursting from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. It’ll go from naught to a hundred 0.2 seconds under seven and turns the speedo needle right up to 230kph — and the numbers tallies with the urgent acceleration that starts right from the get-go.

You can tweak the power’s delivery by way of flicking the plastic switch on the bezel that surrounds the transmission stick. Three modes are on tap, which Green, Mid and Sport that does as its name suggest. You could also go full manual and row through the ratios with the steering-mounted paddle shifters. For all that tech wizardry, I recommend remaining in Mid, where the Mini feels the best.

The Mini 5dr brings practicality to the table without getting bloated in the process. While it may inevitably be compared to other more practical five-door hatchbacks like the Golf, none of the competition offers said practicality with a drive that’s certainly entertaining and in a shell that’s distinctly quirky. To you who had a Mini but had to give it up because of children… welcome back.

SPEC: MINI Cooper S 5 Door

RM236,888 without insurance

1998cc, inline-4, MINI TwinPower Turbo, 192bhp @ 4700-6000rpm, 280Nm @ 1250-4750rpm

6-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

0-100kph in 6.8s, top speed 230kph, 5.5l/100km


On sale

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