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New Mini five-door hatchback revealed

 The new five-door Mini hatchback has been revealed, and is set to give the brand the biggest sales boost of any single model so far. BMW insiders believe it could outsell today’s three-door model by a factor of three to one. It is thought that this new model could account for around 1,50,000 units annually, massively boosting Mini’s sales overall.

Internationally, the five-door Mini will go on sale with the choice of three-cylinder Cooper petrol and three-cylinder Cooper D diesel engines, and in four-cylinder Cooper S petrol and Cooper SD form. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard while the six-speed Steptronic torque-converter automatic transmission is optional. Despite being a physically larger and more capacious car than the new Mini three-door hatch, the five-door version is not expected to be too much more expensive.

 The entry-level three-cylinder turbo-petrol Cooper model offers a tempting mix of relative pace (0-100kph in 8.2sec) and a promised 21.2kpl combined. The six-speed automatic version is marginally quicker in the sprint and offers an impressive 20.5kpl combined. The 189bhp Cooper S hits 100kph in 6.9sec (6.8sec for the auto) and returns 16.9kpl or 18.4kpl in automatic form.

Measuring a compact 4m from nose to tail, the five-door is 72mm longer in the wheelbase than the three-door and 161mm longer overall, with the extra wheelbase length going entirely into the rear cabin. BMW says the new car also offers 15mm more headroom and a useful 61mm of extra interior width “at shoulder height”.

Boot space is now 278 litres, up 67 litres on the three-door. With the 60/40 spilt rear seats both folded, the Mini’s maximum load capacity is 941 litres. BMW’s engineers have gone beyond simply increasing the basic load capacity of the Mini five-door and added a number of neat features to improve the utility of the car. There’s the option of a folding false boot floor which can be fitted at two different heights, the upper of which allows a completely flat load bay when the seats are folded forward. Unusual extendable clamps have also been fitted to the rear seatbacks, allowing the backs to be locked in an upright position in order to further increase the load space.

 Subjectively, this new Mini’s looks appear better balanced than those of the three-door. The longer, higher nose of the Mk3 hatch is now offset by the car’s extra length. The five-door is also marked out by a distinctive shoulder on its rear rather than having the three-door’s near-upright tailgate.

The rear doors are short, although the height of the door aperture aids access to the rear cabin for taller adults, and while the front sports seats fitted to the car pictured here are substantial, their backs feature a large cut-out to accommodate the knees of taller rear passengers. The low roofline is also relieved inside with a ‘scooped-out’ headlining, which offers surprisingly decent headroom. While getting in and out requires some agility, a six-foot-tall rear passenger can sit behind a similarly sized driver, albeit with just a few millimetres of knee and head clearance. In the front, the new dashboard intrudes on the driver’s sense of space and the seating position remains unusually low, but there’s a decent amount of shoulder-room for two adults.

 Mini sources believe the new five-door model will attract more male buyers and help to “de-feminise the brand” and balance the split between male and female customers. Industry wisdom suggests that female car buyers will buy a model that is seen as a ‘male car’ but male buyers will not buy what’s perceived as ‘female’. This sub-strategy might also explain why the third model to appear in the Mk3 Mini range will be the longer and wider Clubman sports estate rather than the popular convertible.

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