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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The jury's out on the new five-door MINI

I AM reserving judgement on the latest MINI until I get myself behind the wheel.

Over the past 13 years we’ve had a MINI convertible, a MINI estate, a MINI coupe, a MINI van and much more so it’s still hard not to get the impression that every possible permutation of BMW’s brilliant British-ish hatchback for the 21st century has already been invented.

With the notable exceptions of a reinvented Riley Elf and a Moke for the 21st century the MINI is the automotive My Way, because there are only so many different cover versions you can do.

Which is why I need to reserve judgement on the latest offering - the new MINI five-door hatchback.

On paper it sounds like just another hatchback - the ingenious twist on the MINI formula this time is, in their own words, that “two additional doors facilitate entry to the rear, where three seats are available”.

The MINI five-door hatchback is, in fact, a hatchback with five doors!

Some reviewers have been quick to say the new model is no better proportioned than the Morris Marina Coupe before it went out of production.

Another asked how the new model, which enjoys its official world debut at next week’s Paris Motorshow, can still legitimately be called a MINI when it’s so much larger even than the three-door car it’s based on.

However you must appreciate that beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Don’t get me wrong – if my experiences with the visually challenging MINI Countryman are anything to go by it’ll be a hoot to drive and impeccably built.

It’ll also have that MINI trump card of a wonderfully detailed interior – in fact, I still don’t think most other manufacturers have caught up with 2001’s original MINI, 13 years on!

I’ll reserve my own judgement until I’ve driven it, but a MINI five-door hatch does prompt one very big question. Why? Stay tuned for the answer!

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