One For The Money : 2021 MINI One 5-Door [review]

By jaytee, 05 January 2022

Singapore - Say what you will about MINI, you can’t deny that their cars have a certain charm.

Short wheelbase, short overhangs, roundish two-box configuration, round bug-eyed headlamps and vertical tail lamps. It’s an iconic silhouette, well preserved since the original British Leyland Minis of seventies lore.

And of course, that distinctive body shell still has legions of fans worldwide.

The MINI One recently saw a Life Cycle Impulse (or facelift, in queen’s English). Thankfully, the classic MINI traits we all love and adore are still present, albeit with some changes.

Instead of fog lamps, the new range of MINIs get vertical slits that redirect airflow along the sides of the car. They also get narrower grille openings with new gloss black grille surrounds. Union Jack tail lamps are now standard, as are LED headlamps. However, the MINI One 5-Door lacks the sporty paraphernalia you’d find on the Cooper S or John Cooper Works models. Hood scoops, racing stripes, sporty badges and the like.

(Click HERE to read Clifford's review of the MINI JCW 3-Door)

Inside, the MINI One 5-Door is nearly identical to the pre-LCI’d car with some additional embellishments. A new gauge cluster panel, a new laser-etched ring that surrounds an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen and a new steering wheel with gloss black multi-function buttons.

Obviously this five-doored MINI has a larger footprint on the road than the 3-Door variant, 340mm longer to be exact. The 5-Door is also 11mm taller. So, what does that additional span get you?

For starters, the boot capacity of the 5-Door has also been increased to 278 litres, a 67 litre increase over the smaller hatch. There are now proper back seats with an accompanying door on either side, so you don’t have to clamber over a folded front seat just to get into the back.

That fact alone makes it a great car for smaller families. But, they’d have to be small. It’s worth noting though, that the rear doors make anchoring child seats in the rear ISOFIX points is a breeze compared to the MINI 3-Door.

Despite having a bench in the back, the rear seats are really only meant for two people. You may be able to cram three people in the back, but the middle occupant would have to straddle the rather large transmission tunnel. It’s a part that’s been carried over from the three-door hatch. But still, it's a more practical alternative and only sees a 55kg weight penalty over its smaller sibling.

So it looks like a MINI, is more practical than the 3-Door, and has all the same tech as its brethren. What’s the catch?

Under the MINI-style clamshell hood lurks a BMW-sourced 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder that churns out a rather mediocre 102 horsepower, but retains a respectable torque figure of 190Nm. In fact, the power figures are damn near identical to its not-so-distant relative, the BMW 116i.

This should come as no surprise because both the MINI and BMW share the same three-pot engine, codenamed the B38.

We at TopGear Singapore also know for a fact that the B38 engine can be squeezed to the tune of 136 horsepower, like in the case of the MINI Cooper Countryman (Not the Cooper S, which has a 2.0-Litre four-pot). Or even past 200 horsepower in the case of the BMW i8, sans hybrid motor.

That being said, the MINI One 5-Door tips the scales at a shade over 1.3 tons. So you could easily put all the power down to the road without worrying about getting it wrong. It might be a little lacking in the 0-100km/h department, 10.6 seconds if you’re wondering, but it's a long shot from being shabby.

The MINI One 5-Door excels on most road conditions, keeping its occupants in relative comfort when the going gets quicker. It might not soak up bumps as well as larger MINI cars like the Countryman, but its low ride height and multi-link rear axle does a swell job of keeping the car level and tidy in all situations.

The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission switches cogs swiftly and accurately so you’re rarely in the wrong rev range for a well-executed overtake at lower speeds. Alternatively, you could chuck the gear selector to the left and take manual control if you so please.

The MINI One 5-Door is a palatable car that ought to suit most appetites. It might not be the quickest, and it might not be the most spacious. And yes, there is a moderately steep premium for the MINI One 5-Door. In fact, that applies to the whole MINI range.

But it doesn’t hurt that the MINI One 5-Door is the second cheapest MINI on sale in Singapore, preceded only by the MINI One 3-Door and not by a large sum.

It might be cutesy, but it sure ain’t chintzy. If you’re looking for an entry point into the MINI family, the MINI One 5-Door isn’t a bad place to start.

PHOTOS Jay Tee

MINI One 5-Door
Engine 1499cc, inline3 turbocharged
Power/rpm 102hp/3900-6500rpm
Torque/rpm 190Nm/1380-3600rpm
Transmission 7spd Steptronic double clutch auto
0-100km/h 10.6secs
Top Speed 192km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.5-6.2l/100km (combined)
CO2 126-140g/km

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