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BMW’s MINI hatchback is now in its third iteration since the first reincarnation in 2001. The new MINI hatch is larger, more powerful and more fuel efficient than before.

The hatch’s length is up by 98 mm, width by 44 mm and height by 7 mm, with a 28 mm-longer wheelbase. With the Cooper model as a comparison, the new car has a 42 mm-wider track at the front and a 34 mm-wider track at the rear. The Cooper and Cooper D actually have wider tracks – 1,501 mm compared to 1,485 mm for the Cooper S.

Interior space is larger as well. The rear seats have a 23 mm-longer seat surface, and shoulder roof and foot space have increased. The luggage area has also increased by 51 litres to 211 litres.

Three engines make their debut at launch – a three-cylinder 1.5 litre turbocharged petrol for the Cooper, a four-cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol for the Cooper S and a three-cylinder turbodiesel for the Cooper D. A six-speed manual is standard, and optional is a choice of a six-speed auto or sports auto. ZF’s nine-speeders have yet to make its way into this car.

The Cooper S, which has 192 hp from 4,700 rpm to 6,000 rpm, and 280 Nm at 1,250 rpm to 4,750 rpm (with 300 Nm available on overboost), can go to 100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds for the automatic version. The manual is 0.1 second slower at 6.8 seconds.

The Cooper’s new three-cylinder engine does 136 hp from 4,500 rpm to 6,000 rpm, and 220 Nm of torque (230 Nm overboost) from 1,250 rpm to 4,000 rpm. This is a huge difference from the previous normally-aspirated engine, and it’s worth noting that the Cooper’s 100 km/h acceleration time is less than a second slower than that of the previous-generation Cooper S at 7.8 seconds for the automatic. The manual is 0.1 seconds slower.

We’ll probably never get the Cooper D, but let’s look at the specs anyway. It gets a 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbodiesel with 116 hp at 4,000 rpm and 270 Nm at 1,750 rpm. It’s the slowest of the lot to 100 km/h, taking 9.2 seconds for both the automatic and the manual.

MINI now has driving modes, selectable via a rotary switch at the base of the gear lever. The standard setting is the MID mode, and available options include SPORT as well as GREEN, which has a coasting function and in general works similarly to BMW’s own ECO PRO.

For the first time, the new MINI hatchback also includes Dynamic Damper Control, and the driving mode setting varies the dampers as well for a choice between comfortable or sporty driving.

The interior design gets a big revamp. The power window controls are now on the doors, a less quirky but more convenient position. The central speedo is also gone, as it now takes position in the main gauge in front of the driver. The retro circular vents are missing too, replaced with squarish vents. The centre dash area is now reserved for a big LED ring that changes colour to provide feedback on the car’s systems, and within that is either a four-line TFT display or a full colour iDrive-like display up to 8.8-inches in size.

As previously mentioned, there are also new driver assist systems such as Driving Assistant, Head-Up-Display, high beam assistant, road sign detection, parking assistant and a rear view camera. Keyless start now doesn’t require you to slot the key in. Meanwhile, the headlamps now have integrated daytime-running lights, and full LED headlamps are optional. Optional fog lamps can also be had in either halogen or LED.

The new tech in this new MINI will not only trickle down to the other next-generation MINIs to be launched (we’ve sighted the five-door and the Clubman), but they will appear in future front-wheel drive BMWs as well.

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