Words by: Adam Allen
What is it?
Ladies and gentleman, what you are looking at likely needs no introduction- known as the F56 generation Mini, it’s been plying its trade on our roads for almost five years now. For 2019, the Hardtop Minis receive a smattering of minor upgrades- new wheels, better materials in the cabin as well as Bluetooth connectivity now being standard fare are a few of the highlights. The infotainment interface keeps getting better with every evolution and all Mini Connected services have more features as well. The biggest news is the reimagined Mini logos which adorn the front and ear of each one that leaves the factory. We aren’t sure anything was wrong with the old one, but the minimalistic version you see here is “one of the iconic exterior elements” of a Mini, so there’s that. Driving our 3-door tester was a refreshing experience for us because so often the Mini press fleet is chock full of cars that have tons of kit added to them, which in turn adds a whole bunch of dough to the bottom line. Our Classic Line trimmed tester had pretty much no options. That meant, of course, that we’d get to drive the little scamp with the right transmission- a honest 6-speed manual which also happens to be lashed to one of the best 3-cylinder engines in the business.
How does it drive?
It’s a Mini, so the usual clichés are deployed- zippy, playful, and ‘it drives like a Go Kart’ are all apt when describing life with one of these runabouts. As great as they are traversing the urban landscape, ‘runabout’ might imply that these are one trick ponies and flounder about on the highway. That really isn’t the case because every Mini has an indelible influence from parent company BMW, which means their road manners are impeccable. They are equally poised whiling away the kilometres on a long trip as they are dashing around from errand to appointment. We eluded to the three banger under the hood being a sweetheart, and it is truly an achievement how BMW managed to make it extremely refined but also punch way above its weight in power; it makes a rorty sound as it goes about its business that we rather enjoyed. With the automatic gearbox left off the option sheet, we reveled in using the 6-speed manual to extract all the power from the eager engine. Curiously, we discovered that the transmission offers rev-matched downshifts but there isn’t any mention of this technology anywhere in the owner’s manual making it quite the Easter egg. Another oddity was the lack of drive modes- this is the first Mini we have ever driven that didn’t have the ability to toggle between Sport, Green and Normal. Once we got over those headscratchers we noticed that our tester was the best riding Mini we’ve ever encountered, something we don’t usually say about these little guys. That did not mean it was any less fun to chuck around, and even shod with tires that didn’t offer much grip it was still a riot to zip in and out of doddering traffic and storm our favorite off ramps.
What’s it like inside?
You can see from the image gallery below that our tester lacked some of the fanfare of other Mini’s we’ve driven in the past, but it was no penalty box. Although quite austere in its varying shades of black, the 3 door’s interior was clearly assembled with care. Our Classic trimmed example didn’t allow us to sample some of the upgraded leather trim and Color Lines, but it really didn’t matter because everything looked and felt premium. In another first, the cabin was completely bereft of any squeaks or rattles which are usually commonplace in these cars thanks to their brittle ride quality. And don’t let the 3 door’s size fool you- it’ll hold more stuff than you think. One of our staffers nervously agreed to employ our tester to pick up a new set of snow tires, thinking they wouldn’t all fit inside. After the rear seats were dropped and a loading plan was in place, the little Mini swallowed all four of them with ease.
Why you should care:
If you have ever found yourself on the fence on whether to put a Mini in your driveway, it’s likely that pricing may have played a mitigating role in your decision. These cars aren’t cheap- the excellent Kia Rio LX we drove several months ago which would compete with our Mini cost almost $7,000 less- a significant amount of coin at this end of the marketplace. Yet our tester’s asking price of $25,330 is reasonable and after living with the 3 door for a week, we think it’s justified. Even though it lacked all kinds of the usual Mini frippery, the inherent goodness is still there. Now that we have learned what it’s like when you show restraint with the exhaustive options catalogue, this is how we’d spec one were we thinking of making the 3 door a permanent fixture in the Carpages Garage. And there’s that new logo…
2019 MINI 3 Door – Specifications
- Price as tested: $25,330
- Body Type: 3-door, 4-passenger hatchback
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo, DOHC, 12 valves
- Horsepower: 134 @ 4,500-6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft): 162 @ 1,250 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight: 1,191 kg (2,629 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.2L/100km (26 mpg)