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Mini Cooper 2022 review: 3 Door Hatch

Despite its age, the Mini's goatee-like nose facelift and other updates help keep it looking fresh (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

Daily driver score

4/5

Urban score

4/5

Can it really be eight years since we first lay eyes on the current-shape Mini – and 20 seasons since the BMW-led brand revival burst onto the scene?

With much input from now-defunct Rover, the 2001 R50 was all about reinvention, attitude, fashion and athleticism for the new millennium. These also defined the two following generations (R56 of 2006 and F56 of 2013), along with stingy equipment levels and laughably high-priced options. On-paper value-for-money was never a Mini strong suit.

But fads come and fads go, and by early 2021, BMW seemed to have finally realised that Mini fans are ageing and the market is changing, as reflected in the ever-smaller pool of city cars and superminis. The days of looking cool at the wheel of this retro icon are long gone.  

Result? A couple of years into the F56’s facelift – which itself brought a long list of improvements to help keep the old show-pony fresh – BMW has ushered in another round of updates, streamlining the way you buy a Mini in the process via – shock, horror! – ‘free’ specification packages.

We take a look at the popular Cooper 3DR Hatch Classic Plus to see if the Mini’s still got it for 2022.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Let’s see what BMW introduced back in early 2021 that’s reignited our interest in the Mini.

Firstly, it brought in more standard equipment. Then some of the more popular personalisation options were bundled up into those packages. And, finally, a few exterior trim alterations here and there, as well as a restyled front bumper and alloy wheels, have freshened up the appearance.

The alloy wheels have been restyled (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The alloy wheels have been restyled (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

The base Cooper Classic from $37,500 before on-road costs (ORC) includes automatic transmission (sadly a manual gearbox is no longer offered), LED lighting front and rear, cloth seat facings, piano-black interior trim, digital instrumentation, an 8.8-inch touchscreen, wireless phone mirroring and charging, digital radio, reverse camera, parking assistant (that steers the car into parallel spots automatically), front and rear parking sensors and 16-inch alloy wheels (with no spare).

  • The Mini is a different type of small car (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Mini is a different type of small car (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The Mini is a different type of small car (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Mini is a different type of small car (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

On the safety front you’ll find six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control with stop/go, among a host of other technologies.  See the safety section below.  

Personalisation packages are a big part of the Mini’s appeal, and the Classic offers at no-cost the choice of four exterior colours (white, black, red or blue), three roof/mirror cap/ combos (body colour, black or white), two alloy designs (five- or 14-spoke) and black or white stripes.

Our red test car was the Classic Plus from $41,000 plus ORC, which means keyless entry, more-bolstered ‘leatherette’ sports seats, front seat heaters, a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon audio upgrade, eco and sport extra driving modes, stronger window tinting and 17-inch alloys in either silver or black, as well as three additional colour choices (green, grey and silver). All for a surprisingly reasonable $3500 more.

Our red test car was the Classic Plus from $41,000 plus ORC (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Our red test car was the Classic Plus from $41,000 plus ORC (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

This would be your Mini starting point, and not the Mini Yours from $46,000 before ORC, which is more a styling exercise with leather upholstery, fancier trim, ambient lighting and 18-inch alloy wheel options.

At the Classic Plus price point, rivals are scarce, and none with three-door hatchback bodies except for the smaller and outdated Fiat 500/Abarth 595 twins, while the Audi A1 and Citroen C3 are both presented in more pedestrian five-door hatchback guises – something that the F55 Mini 5DR Hatch competes against anyway.

The hardcore Toyota Yaris GR AWD pocket rocket perhaps comes closest in spirit but that’s more of a Cooper S JCW competitor, meaning the Mini Cooper really is in a space of its own.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

Yes, even after all these years. After all, BMW’s Mini has been more successful commercially than BMC’s original ever managed, primarily due to a massive uptake in the United States and China.

  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update to the Cooper has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update to the Cooper has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The most recent update has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

You can see why. The pert bug-eyed looks, frameless doors, chunky cabin, circular interior themes and, of course, the reputation put it in a unique place amongst today’s far more homogenised small car alternatives.

Interestingly, the most recent update in early 2021 has resulted in a sleek and more-focused look that moves away from the over-the-top caricature of previous iterations, though the black band around the nose cone might take some getting used to. Even the OTT Union Jack tail-light LEDs seem toned down.

The Union Jack tail-light LEDs seem toned down (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Union Jack tail-light LEDs seem toned down (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

And, like we said, there’s nothing like it on the market anymore. Once upon a time, close (if not exactly direct) opponents included the Alfa Romeo Mito, Audi A3 three-door, Honda CR-Z, Hyundai Veloster, Peugeot 208 GTi, Volkswagen Beetle… but they’re all gone.

 

How practical is the space inside?

From the moment you open the light yet solid front door, it’s obvious that the Mini is a different type of small car.

 It's obvious that the Mini is a different type of small car (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). It's obvious that the Mini is a different type of small car (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

The frameless doors give it a hardtop feel, though it’s a shame the necessary thick B-pillar doesn’t allow for the rear windows to find down for a truly ‘60s American hardtop-style open side experience.

The Classic Plus’ standard front seats are a highlight. Superbly supportive and with extensive adjustment permutations so even taller and heftier folk can find the right position, they help create a snug yet not cramped environment, with a low, focused driving position that’s easy to get comfy behind thanks to endless column and seat adjustability. One does peer over that bulky dashtop though.

The 5.0-inch black-panel instrumentation redesign does much to reduce the old Mini tweeness inside, with motorcycle-style digitised analogue-look dials and fresh new graphics and functionality (with new ‘favourites’ shortcuts added) for the rectangular centre multimedia screen. Based on BMW’s excellent iDrive system, it’s all easy and intuitive to operate.

However, that dash is looking old and messy now, with its small letter-box screen and messy buttons, though the toggle switchgear is pleasant to operate and adds to the Mini’s sense of occasion too. The kerbside mirror won’t automatically dip in reverse, and Android Auto users aren’t accommodated like Apple CarPlay users are.

The dash is looking old and messy now (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The dash is looking old and messy now (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

Still, storage is sufficient for most peoples’ needs as long as the things they need put away aren’t too large, backed up by a foldable armrest-cum-cubby and handy pair of big cupholders ahead of the gear lever – which is an ex-BMW design that takes a minute to get used to but works just fine.

For a three-door four-seater coupe, practicality is better than you might imagine, aided by good all-round vision and thoughtful packaging.

Access to the rear is obviously not going to be the Hatch’s easiest party trick, but a single-action lift-up latch that slides and automatically returns the front seat back to the original spot helps enormously. It’s not too much of a struggle sliding between seat and pillar as well.

Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (for two), a pair of cupholders and map pockets, a trio of cupholders as well as elbow rests incorporated into the side panels. All double up as receptacles for odds and ends. Lots of glass and those upright pillars impart a surprisingly spacious feel.

  • Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Once sat out back, you’ll find a firm but inviting bench and backrest (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

Speaking of back-seat room, because it’s only a two-seater configuration, there’s a welcome amount of acreage for elbows, shoulders and bottoms, while legroom isn’t too bad for a 178cm adult sat behind themselves. There’s nothing cramped or oppressive in the Classic Plus we’re in, save perhaps for the endless black trim.

However, betraying the F56 Cooper’s age, while the front centre-armrest sited smartphone charger is accessible to rear-seat occupants, there are no USB ports of any variety or overhead lighting in this sunroof-equipped example. Nor will you find a folding centre armrest or overhead grab handles. In fact, the latter is only provided for the front-seat passenger.

Also, keep in mind that passengers cannot crack a window back there. 

Further back, a can of goo in lieu of a spare wheel means the boot floor is deeper than you might imagine, with a small compartment below the second floor for added hidden storage. Beyond that, it’s an F56 Mini, so a 211L capacity and a pair of 60:40-folding backrests into the cabin as your lot luggage-capacity wise.

  • The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The boot floor is deeper than you might imagine (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

If you want practicality Mini offers the F55 5DR Hatch (278L) or our favourite of the lot, the lovely Clubman with 360L. Or if you don’t mind your Mini looking like a gargoyle, the Countryman extends that again to between 405L and 450L depending on rear-seat position.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

One of the stronger petrol engine families of the last decade is BMW’s B-series modular in-line units, in B38 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre three-cylinder, B48 2.0-litre four-cylinder and B58 3.0-litre six-cylinder formats.

  • The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). The Cooper pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

The Cooper uses the B38A15M1, meaning a 1499cc 1.5-litre three-pot turbo featuring an aluminium block and head, a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, variable valve lift (Valvetronic) and variable valve timing (Double VANOS).

It pumps 100kW of power at a peaky 6500rpm and 220Nm of torque from just 1480rpm to 4100rpm ­– enough for a 0-100km/h dash time of 8.2 seconds on the way to a 210km/h top speed.

Mounted transversely, it drives the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) dubbed Steptronic in Mini-speak – a switch from earlier F56 examples from a few years back that used a six-speed torque-converter auto. The floor shifter has the typically-BMW back for up/forward for down shift pattern. For paddle shifters you need to step up to the Cooper S with the B48 2.0-litre engine.

The Mini’s UKL1 platform (Untere Klasse, German for ‘lower class’) modular architecture is spread between the F55 (5DR), F56 (3DR) and F57 (Convertible) models, and employs MacPherson-style struts up front and a multi-link rear end. A longer version of this also underpins the larger Mini Clubman and Countryman as well as BMW’s 1 Series, 2 Series (not coupe and convertible), X1 and X2.

How much fuel does it consume?

Running on 95 RON premium unleaded petrol, our Cooper managed a worthy 7.1L/100km in a fairly demanding mix of heavy urban commuting traffic and higher-speed performance testing. The trip computer was showing high-6s, so it wasn’t far off the truth.

The official figure should average out at 5.6L/100km, for a carbon dioxide emissions rating of 128 grams per kilometre. With a 44L fuel tank, the potential range-average is 785km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Tested all the way back in April 2014, the F56 Cooper managed a disappointing four-star ANCAP rating.

Among other complaints, the organisation called out marginal driver chest and abdomen protection in a side impact, poor pedestrian protection in a frontal impact and a lack of sufficient driver-assist safety systems.

However, since then, the Cooper has been upgraded, and addresses the latter with standard AEB with pedestrian detection, Forward Collision Warning with braking pre-conditioning, Lane Departure Warning and assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop/go with speed limiter.

There’s also automatic parking, front and rear parking sensors, Emergency Assistance, runflat tyre indicator, six airbags (driver, front-passenger, front seat-mounted side airbags and side curtain), stability and traction controls, electronic differential lock, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Cornering Brake Control, two rear-seat sited ISOFIX child-seat anchorage points and child-seat tether points behind the backrest.

Note that the tyres are runflat items, which are designed to be driven on straight after a blow-out or sudden pressure loss to safety.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Like BMW, Mini offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which trails Mercedes-Benz’s five years and behind the seven-year unconditional warranty pioneered by Kia. A three-year roadside assistance package is also included.

  • Mini offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Mini offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).
  • Mini offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Mini offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

Additionally, the car tells the owner/driver when it needs servicing, meaning it is condition-based rather than time-based scheduling. In the UK, it is generally recommended every 12 months or 10,000km is a good rule of thumb, just to be safe.

Owners can also purchase a five-year/80,000km service plan to help save money.

What's it like to drive around town?

In a word, feisty.

Though only a three-pot turbo, the charming B38 1.5-litre engine is one of the best of the breed, offering a broad performance spectrum that allows it to rev cleanly and pull strongly all the way to the 7000rpm limit.

Minis are renowned for their direct steering and sharp handling, and the Cooper doesn’t disappoint (Image: Byron Mathioudakis). Minis are renowned for their direct steering and sharp handling, and the Cooper doesn’t disappoint (Image: Byron Mathioudakis).

Additionally, the auto shuffles between its seven forward ratios seamlessly, for super-smooth progress.

However, around town, there is the usual momentary DCT hesitation from standstill, which can be quite frustrating if you’re in a hurry. Once that and the turbo wakes up, the Cooper will surge ahead with impressive determination, but instantaneous acceleration isn’t in this Mini’s repertoire. The previous, old six-speed torque-converter auto was far more immediate to throttle inputs.  

Note that selecting Sport in the drive mode kicks things along a little more urgently. As such, and at this price point, we’d like to see a pair of paddle shifters to add to that experience, especially now as there’s no manual gearbox on offer. The 'Green' eco mode, on the other hand, throttles things back to a slightly more leisurely pace to conserve fuel.

Minis are renowned for their direct steering and sharp handling, and the Cooper doesn’t disappoint.

At parking speeds, there’s heaps of electric assistance to make manoeuvring about easy – and don’t forget about the standard park assist system to lend a helping hand here – while out on the open road, the flat, precise and confident cornering imparts a wonderful sense of security and connection with the road that, for keener driver, is worth the price of entry alone.

Never nervous, yet always alive in your hands. Assisted by grippy Goodyear Eagle 205/45R17 rubber, you feel the expensive engineering going on underneath to keep everything in order and precisely where the driver needs the car to be. Even when caned along.

But… you also feel the at-times firm ride over the ragged urban streetscapes that Coopers will undoubtedly traverse most days, though it isn’t as abrupt or choppy as in previous iterations with this-sized wheel/tyre package. Plus, coarse bitumen surfaces make for a fair amount of road noise intrusion at times.

That said, if your regular commute takes in fresh, smooth roads, then the Mini shines.

If all this sounds awfully familiar, then keep in mind that the Cooper is very much a baby BMW in behaviour as well as demeanour.

It’s reassuring to realise that the British-built Mini’s German masters have not stood still over the past eight years.

This second facelift of the third-generation Cooper three-door hatch has freshened up the appearance on the outside, improved the look inside and provided a refined yet dynamic driving experience that fits in with the British brand’s reputation.

But the real shock is how reasonably priced the Classic Plus package is, especially when you consider that the Mini provides a truly unique proposition that’s backed by reassuringly high-quality BMW engineering.

A Cooper offering decent value-for-money? In 20 years, that’s certainly a first worth celebrating.   

$41,000

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Urban score

4/5
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.