Mini Hatchback (2006-2013): Review, Problems, Specs

The second-generation Mini Hatchback kept the model's core features intact. That is, it offered the same fun-to-drive experience coupled with the funky interior and exterior layout while lacking practicality and comfort due to its small boot and reduced space in the backseat. BMW introduced the second-gen Mini (R56) in November 2006 based on underpinnings shared with PSA Peugeot Citroen. Also, the focus was to come up with a more fuel-efficient and cost-effective product and the introduction of a Start/Stop system achieved that.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • super fun to drive
  • superior handling
  • strong residual value
  • stylish looks

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • small boot
  • limited cargo space
  • used models are rather expensive
  • lack of comfort for those sitting in the back seats

Stay Away From
  • avoid the 1.6-liter diesel versions
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • Some reports speak about the six-speed gearboxes failing, and there are some related issues regarding the clutch, which might require lengthy servicing
Car Details
Powertrain

There are plenty of engines to choose from for the second-gen Mini but let's discuss the gasoline department first. Here, the options are made of an entry-level 1.4-liter unit with 75 hp and a more potent 1.4-liter mill with 95 hp available in the Mini One. Looking for more power? Then you should look to buy the Mini Cooper featuring a 1.6-liter gasoline mill that puts 120 hp on the table. Or, you could go for the full bifta Mini Cooper S and enjoy the turbocharged 1.6-liter unit offering 175 hp.

Diesel fans will have to settle for the Mini Cooper D and its 1.6-liter turbodiesel unit bringing 110 hp on the table. All the engines we mentioned are managed through a well-refined six-speed manual transmission.


Handling

Responsive steering, go-kart feel and a driving position close to the ground are the leading coordinates generating the fun driving factor of the second-generation Mini Hatchback. Body roll is almost inexistent while the electric power steering will obey every command coming from the driver and it will also provide sufficient feedback. The tires deliver top-shelf grip even in corners negotiated at higher speeds.


Safety

Progress have been made from the previous generation as the second-gen Mini Hatchback was awarded five stars out of five after completing the Euro NCAP crash test sessions. There shouldn't be any surprise regarding this result because every Mini comes with side, front and head airbags plus assistance features like electronic stability control system and traction control.

Comfort

Since a sporty character and comfort don't always go hand in hand, don't expect the Mini Hatchback to behave differently. The most laidback ride you'll possibly get is offered by the Mini One and the Cooper D, as the Mini Cooper and the Cooper S use firmer suspension setups. So it's an affair focused on winning some (sportiness) and losing some (comfort). Highway driving will produce an increased amount of tire and wind noise, but nothing too intrusive.

Behind the wheel is the place you'll be spoiled the most thanks to a spirited driving position, very close to the ground while the funky cockpit setup provides the visual entertainment.

While in the front the ambience achieves decent levels of comfort – the seats are reasonably comfortable and offer enough lateral support – those sitting in the back will have to squeeze themselves to fit in the cramped space. Therefore, you'll mostly use the backseat for shopping purposes or to supplement the small boot space.


Quality

Better than the previous Mini Hatchback, especially the cabin which is a significant evolution compared to the first-gen model. However, the quality of some materials is below par and some plastics look and feel very rough.


Practicality

The boot remains on the small side although it now offers 160 liters of space. That's way below rivals like the Fiat 500 (185 liters), Citroen DS3 (285 liters) and Ford Fiesta (290 liters).

You can fold the rear seats to improve cargo space, but there aren't many pockets and storage spaces available around the cabin, apart from two cupholders and a set of shallow door pockets.


Infotainment

The basic Mini kit offers a CD player paired with an MP3 player connecting port while models built from 2009 onwards are fitted with an air-con unit. Optional equipment brings a satellite navigation system and rear parking sensors.

Efficiency

In 2008, the brand introduced a Start/Stop system as part of BMW's Efficient Dynamics program on all non-US second-gen Mini models. Before this was implemented, the 1.4-liter gasoline engine returned 49.6 mpg, but when fitted with the feature mentioned above, fuel economy improved to a 53.3 mpg rating.

Subsequently, the 1.6-liter gasoline unit in the Cooper enjoyed a frugality hike from 48.7 mpg to 52.3 mpg while the sportier Cooper S returned 45.6 mpg instead of 40.9 mpg.

Despite already being the most fuel-efficient mill, the Cooper D took a big step from an initial fuel consumption rate of 64.2 mpg to a budget-friendly 72.4 mpg.


Equipment

Potential clients had to wait until 2009 for their Minis to offer air conditioning as standard. Otherwise, every model had remote central locking, steel rims, a CD player, and six airbags along with electric windows and mirrors.

The real goodies were placed on the option list: rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, sat-nav and leather seats plus various chromed exterior parts. It gets better once you look at what the Cooper S has to offer: 16-inch alloys, leather gearknob and steering wheel, stainless steel pedals, front sport seats, and twin chrome exhaust pipes.


Acquisition

If you can get over the lack of comfort and practicality in the Mini Hatchback and plan to use it around the city rather than outside urban areas, you might be looking at a suitable car for daily chores. Go for models built after 2009 as they come with air-con as standard but keep in mind that a well-maintained car is both hard to find and expensive to buy.

Click on a model to learn more about it.
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