I believe too much is made of this point. Yes, the old BMC Minis were tiny, but, aside from the bulked up Countryman, you can't call the 21st century incarnations big.
It's a question that has been haunting fans since BMW took over the iconic British brand and produced its first car in 2001: when does a MINI stop being a MINI? By that we mean, when is it too big to be called a small car and live up to its founding principle?
I believe too much is made of this point. Yes, the old BMC Minis were tiny, but, aside from the bulked up Countryman, you can't call the 21st century incarnations big. Take this new 5-Door. For an old MINI to have two doors at the back would have been anathema to the design, yet on this body they do not look out of place and, crucially, do not destroy the fact this is a hot hatchback. And it doesn't come much hotter than this S version.
Perhaps the most pleasing element about the S 5-Door is the driver's position. You really have to lower yourself into the racing seat and slot your legs in under the dashboard. It is a difficult sensation to describe, but if you have ever driven a pre-year 2000 Mini, this car probably evokes as close an experience to that out of any of the new MINIs.
I also love this one's turn of speed. Throw it into Sports Mode and the model's 192 hp four-cylinder engine kicks out enough power to put a smile on your face. With a six-speed Steptronic Sport transmission, the automatic version which you'll invariably settle for is just as good as any manual. It'll pick each gear with precision and stay on it till it absolutely needs to change meaning that trademark go-kart feel is ever-present.
Inside things have changed a fair bit. Over the years MINI has done away with the quirkiness to a certain extent. Time was when every dial was housed in it's own plastic bubble. Now the dashboard is very straightforward and elegant, although the central circular column where you'll find that signature round screen is still there.
The rear-view parking camera is fantastic with some really useful proximity sensors giving you 'red, yellow, green' warnings rather than simply screaming at you depending on how far away an obstacle may be.
The back seats, for which this car is trying to make its name, will fit two adults although in practice, if you're tall, you may struggle. This car would be ideal for a young family, or a person who enjoys a fun sporty car but just needs that extra bit of room for the shopping.