Fresh technology, smarter connectivity, standard-fit front and rear LED lights across the range and an advanced dual-clutch automatic gearbox are amongst the highlight changes made to this revised MINI 3-Door Hatch model. If you liked it before, you'll really like it now.
Nothing's fundamentally changed engine-wise, though the base petrol unit fitted to the entry-level MINI One has gone up in size from 1.2 to 1.5-litres, increasing torque by 10Nm to 190Nm. MINI also says that minor changes have been made to its TwinPower Turbo Technology across the board, improving engine electronics, oil supply, intake air ducting, the cooling set-up and the exhaust system. Perhaps most significant though is the news that the brand has at last got around to fitting in a proper dual-clutch auto gearbox for those wanting a self-shifter, this now a 7-speed unit.
Otherwise, it's as you were, all based on a chassis that's BMW's clever UKL1 platform, which also underpins a number of front-wheel drive BMW models. If you want your MINI to have a bit of zip, you'll need to start your search for one at Cooper level, where a 1.5-litre petrol unit offers an eager 136bhp, gets you to 62mph in 7.9s and arguably represents the sweet spot in the range. Then there's the Cooper S, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine putting out a useful 192bhp, a lot of poke for something so small, with 62mph just 6.8s away. The flagship option is the 231bhp John Cooper Works variant.
On to the diesels. The range starts with a 95bhp 1.5-litre unit fitted to the MINI One D. As before, there's also a Cooper diesel option, this time the 1.5-litre diesel with 116bhp, scuttling you to 62mph in just 9.2 seconds. Top of the diesel ine-up is the 168bhp Cooper SD with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit good for 62mph in 7.8s en route to 134mph and 360Nm of torque.
The suspension of this MINI has been mostly built from aluminium to save weight. There's also Variable Damper Control. Available as an option, it offers drivers a choice of two distinct set-ups, a more comfort-oriented response or a focused, sporty feel.
The styling doesn't look all that different, but close inspection will reveal the addition of standard-fit LED front and rear lights, plus there's now extra scope for all-important personalisation. Get out the tape measure and you'll find that this MK3 design is actually larger than you might think, thanks to a wheelbase exension of 28mm over its predecessor. These proportions give it quite a squat, purposeful look, helped by the tapered glasshouse.
It's a touch larger than you might expect inside too - or at last it is provided you haven't been consigned to a rather cramped seat in the back: if that's an issue, you ought to be considering the alternative five-door version of this model - or perhaps the MINI Countryman SUV. Still, access to the rear isn't too bad and the rear bench seat splits 60:40. Boot volume is a supermini-like 211-litres. There's also decent interior stowage space, with cupholders and storage cubbies. Various fresh trimming options are available and a 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen and a multi-function steering wheel are both now fitted as standard.
And in summary? Well what's happened to the MINI hatch? It's become bigger and better finished, the engines are peppier and more efficient plus there are a great many more high-tech options to select from. That said, despite changing so much under the skin, it feels very much a case of as you were, MINI perhaps a little cautious of alienating either existing owners or potential new customers with something radical.
Don't let that make you think we're underwhelmed by the MINI. It's still a great hatch and the latest changes give it some legs to continue the success story, with exciting introductions planned on the near horizon. The prices look very reasonable at the moment, but to get the best from this car, you'll probably want to throw a few of those high-end options at it, so budget accordingly and take that into account when you're calculating your cost of ownership numbers. The MINI might have grown up but it doesn't look as if it's lost its sense of fun.Click here to find out more about our MINI 3-Door Hatch range