The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 MINI Cooper Sport on test for Changing Lanes!

The iconic MINI Hatch – reinvented at the turn of the century under the steer of BMW Group – needs little introduction. Styling cues have stayed fresh and relevant over the years with just the slightest tweaks. The friendly round headlights say it all. 20 years old this year.

But is this MINI still relevant in today’s market where it’s all about how electrified you are?

MINI of course is not immune to market trends and in 2020, the brand launched the all-new MINI Electric in Ireland.

What’s new for the MINI Hatch in 2021?

But MINI will still plant a petrol engine in this beauty and in 2021 the MINI Hatch got a comprehensive range of updates, along with the convertible and five door hatchback variants. It’s the MINI, just swankier with a few more embellishments and options.

The MINI Hatch on review for Changing Lanes presents itself in Island Blue with three doors and a new multitone roof with an enthralling colour gradient from San Marino Blue through Pearly Acqua to Jet Black, created with a new painting technique. It’s simply wild!

The MINI Hatch has been updated for this model year
The MINI Hatch has been updated for this model year

The MINI Hatch is cool. No doubt about it. After all these years, there’s still no car that drips with attitude quite like it. Our MINI Hatch Cooper Sport on test rolls in at €27,903 with a small but funky 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet.

MINI has tweaked the front end with a larger radiator grille with black, hexagonal surround, flanked by hallmark round MINI headlights. The position lights have been replaced by vertical air inlets and the central bumper strip is now in body colour. The wheel arches have new contours and the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology. At the back, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit. The John Cooper Works pack comes as standard on the Sport model and adds extra badging and more visual chutzpah.

Inside the MINI Hatch Cooper Sport

Inside it’s classic MINI too. No one else in the motor industry does car interiors quite like MINI. It’s dark and cool with the central binnacle standing the test of time, now digital with an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen display and Piano Black high-gloss surface as standard. A newly-designed sports leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons is now standard, as is the digital display behind the steering wheel.

The MINI Hatch is oh so cool but it’s not hot on rear legroom or even boot space. Carrying rear passengers is the MINI’s least favourite thing to do. It’s tight back there with just two seats. Some other small cars do boot space better too with the MINI Hatch only managing 211 litres.

Inside the 2021 MINI Hatch
Inside the 2021 MINI Hatch

Driving the MINI Hatch

Behind the wheel, John Cooper Works sports sear bolster you perfectly in the MINI Hatch Cooper Sport. After driving this car we can confirm that the MINI Hatch petrol is most certainly relevant because fun never goes out of fashion.

This is probably the most fun small car you can buy. After all these years, it’s still got it. The controls have a bit of weight to them, enhancing the sporty feeling behind the wheel. The MINI buries itself in corners with such enthusiasm, backed up by fabulous grip and precision. The MINI is a car you drive and it loves corners.

The six-speed gearbox is wonderfully notchy, the steering tight and sporty. There are few cars that feel this lively on the road any more, certainly in this price range. Refinement is as good as it should be for a car of this type, yet there’s a natural firmness to the suspension that adds to the atmosphere behind the wheel.

In the Cooper Sport, the 1.5-litre engine is a three cylinder affair with just 136 hp. But it feels lively and engaging and will suit most buyer’s needs for power and performance. The 6-speed manual gearbox comes as standard but there is an automatic gearbox available too. The Cooper S models pack a more powerful 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol under the bonnet.

The classic silhouette of the MINI Hatch that never goes out of fashion
The classic silhouette of the MINI Hatch that never goes out of fashion

Did you like it?

The MINI Hatch is still one of the most desirable small cars on the market right now. It never goes out of fashion, even these days. It’s not cheap and certainly carries a premium for its style and prestige. But driving it is a reminder why.

Delightfully sporty and fun on the road, the MINI Hatch is all about the joy of driving. Granted it’s not the most practical small car on the market either.

Inside the MINI feels just as sporty with a unique interior perfectly ‘digitised’ for the times we live. MINI remains an icon of premium compact cars.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: MINI 3-Door Hatch Cooper Sport
Price: 
€27,903
Engine: 
1.5-litre turbo petrol
Power:  136 hp
Torque: 220 Nm
Top speed: 210 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.1 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
129 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year

MINI Hatch Cooper Sport is a cut above the rest in the small car market
MINI Hatch Cooper Sport is a cut above the rest in the small car market