This isn’t the first time a MINI has appeared with five doors. If you’ll all recall, the MINI Cooper Countryman was the first to break that modern mold, but this is an idea that’s been bouncing around the world of Mini since the late 1950s when a four-door prototype first appeared.
Well, I for one am happy the idea made it to fruition, and this time in a MINI-esque package instead of a pseudo-CUV guise. While I’ve always enjoyed the Countryman (mainly due to the ALL4 badge on the side), it somehow felt a bit off and slightly removed from everything the MINI stood for; from dynamism to go-kart likeness: sacrifices that were made in the name of convenience.
No, this time MINI has managed to answer the needs of its consumers without sacrificing too much in return, and keeping true to what being a MINI really stands for.
Two more doors = two more reasons to fall in love
In person, the extra doors do very little to change the silhouette and shape of the MINI Cooper, and that’s perfect. However, it wasn’t until I took a photo of the MINI Cooper S’ side profile that the zit-like rear end became visible. Teetering on the edge of station wagon land, the 2015 MINI Cooper S 5 Door is proportional -- sometimes.
As odd as that might sound, it’s true. The 2015 MINI Cooper S 5 Door is a good-looking car. It’s not stunning, nor is it sexy. However, it’s also foregone its cutesy, adorable days in lieu of a more grown-up, slightly modern front fascia. Let’s not talk about the cartoon-like taillights and just say they are there to entertain drivers you leave in your wake as you “motorhard” past them…
Perhaps the likeness to the hatch silhouette has a great deal to do with the fact that the rear door openings are miniscule at best. Puffy winter jacket wearers, those of a heavier set or people with gazelle-like legs be warned: this can be a tight squeeze. However, not at all as tight as getting into the backseat of a two-door hatch, which is an immediate improvement.
Despite the small door openings, once inside the Cooper S 5 Door, backseat space is ample. Legroom is actually good, as is headroom, thanks to the square-like nature of the Cooper. Trunk space also remains almost the same in the 5 Door, although with the rear seats folded you get over 300 litres of extra cargo room when compared with the standard Cooper.
More space, but just as compact to drive
And here’s the beauty of the 2015 MINI Cooper S 5 Door -- at least in my mind -- and where it excels over the Countryman. All-wheel drive aside (which the 5 Door does not offer), the Cooper S 5 Door drives just as the 3 Door hatch variant does.
Nimble on its wheels with a happy-to-please twin scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder mill (189 horspower/207 lb-ft of torque), the MINI Cooper S 5 Door was a joy on the streets, even in wintery, snowy, icy conditions. The added weight of the larger rear and extra doors helped ground the MINI 5 Door in dicey road conditions. Torque steer wasn’t as evident as it has been in the past, and I was pleased with the dynamic stability control and often left it turned on just to see how manageable it was.
Mated to a glorious 6-speed manual transmission, the new 4-cyl is spool-happy and blow-off-y in all the right ways. I defy you to drive this vehicle without a smile on your face. It can’t be done.
With three driving modes to choose from (sport/mid/green), I recommend leaving it in sport at all times. Why? Because: popping, burping exhaust notes, livelier throttle response, tighter steering, and stiffer suspension. However, rear-seat passengers will not appreciate said stiff suspension, as it can get quite abrasive back there on bumpier surfaces.
Green mode is a throttle and soul killer, and mid is just ho-hum everyday, without the pizazz and character you’d expect from a MINI. So, sport all the time or nothing.
Can two doors really make that much more of a difference?
In fact, I think they can. As you all know, my son travels with me in every car I bring home. Already a big fan of MINI he was more than happy to crawl into the backseat, however, the idea that he had his own door threw his like for the car into the stratosphere, and it also made my life light-years easier, as buckling him in became less of a Cirque de Soleil act.
On that note: As my son grows older and larger I am beginning to notice both good and bad backseat elements as his interactions back there change and evolve. Of late, I realize he is beginning to reach things like window buttons, door handles, and even the lock and unlock buttons. Of course, that’s where child locks come into play. However, even in the cars where he can reach the door handle, he’s never been able to actually open the door as they are much too heavy for him. Such is not the case in the MINI Cooper S 5 Door. As the door is so small and light, he was able to reach the handle with ease and also open it. He was very chuffed about the whole thing. Mummy was less proud and quickly engaged the child lock.
That small foible aside, the brand new 2015 MINI Cooper S 5 Door offers MINI hatchback owners staring down the barrel of family life a viable option that will offer them all the dynamism they’ve come to enjoy behind the wheel of their MINI while also being practical.