If you want a MINI Hatch but won't be satisfied unless it's a very special one, then the MINI Seven may appeal. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Expect plenty of design-led special edition versions of the current generation MINI Hatch. This is the first, christened the 'Seven' and if you've fallen for the brand, it could be just what you're looking for. There's a special feel inside and out and you can have the package with all the key engines available in the range.
Arguably, the original Min was the car that really started the auto industry's modernday fascination with short-run special edition models. We've had some wild and wacky ones over the years but in more recent times, the trend has been for a more conservative, design-led approach. That's certainly in evidence with the MINI Seven variant we're looking at here.
It's aimed at MINI buyers who would have spent plenty on options anyway and want the chance to get something with more of a unique feel. Hence the special paintwork and bespoke interior.
The engine range isn't going to come as any great surprise to seasoned MINI watchers. It begins with the 1.5-litre diesel offered with 116bhp in the MINI Cooper D model. The mainstay of the range will be the 136bhp 1.5-litre petrol-powered Cooper variant. Alternatively, there are four cylinder petrol and diesel engines in the 192bhp Cooper S and 170bhp Cooper SD respectively. Most customers will stick with a six-speed manual gearbox but a six-speed Steptronic automatic is available as an option.
The Cooper S will cover the sprint to 62mph in just 6.8 seconds, while the Cooper SD isn't a whole lot slower, getting to 62 in 7.4 seconds. Variable Damper Control with adjustable dampers is available as an option, as are MINI driving modes which offers drivers the choice between Sport, Mid and Green modes. Using a rotary switch at the base of the gearstick or selector lever, drivers can swap from the default Mid mode to either Sport or Green. The three choices offer a set-up which is either performance-oriented, balanced or geared towards fuel efficiency. MINI driving modes also influences the ambient lighting, shift characteristics of the automatic transmission and the Variable Damper Control if the option is selected.
Design and Build
Whether you choose your MINI Seven in three or five-door form, it'll be instantly recognisable by its striking 'MINI Yours' body finish which comes as standard in 'Lapisluxury Blue' - the most intensive blue tone ever applied to a MINI. Three other body finishes from the MINI paint range are also available to choose from; 'Pepper White', 'Midnight Black' and 'British Racing Green'. A 'Melting Silver' roof and exterior mirror caps come as standard, contrasting with the distinctive body finishes. MINI Seven door sill finishers and side scuttles with the MINI Seven logo as well as 17-inch light alloy wheels in exclusive MINI Seven Spoke two-tone design complete the exterior look.
For those wanting to add their own personal style to the exterior design, bonnet stripes in 'Melting Silver' with surround in 'Malt Brown' are also available as an option. Inside, the eye-catching design cues continue, with sports seats in the fabric/leather finish 'Diamond Malt Brown', designed exclusively for MINI Seven. There's also a MINI Seven logo on the central instrument which surrounds the MINI Visual Boost 6.5'' colour display which also comes as standard alongside MINI Connected infotainment, with Bluetooth Handsfree and USB audio. Plus you ge floor mats, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, a storage compartment pack and MINI's desirable 'Excitement Pack'.
Market and Model
The 'Seven' package is available from Cooper level upwards in the range and pries start from just over £18,500 for the three-door Hatch or from just over £19,000 for the five-door Hatch. That represents a premium of just under £3,000 on the standard model, so you've really got to want the additions you get with this level of trim. Seven buyers get a choice of four engine types - Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper S and Cooper SD.
In addition to the bespoke 'Seven' equipment features that characterise this car outside and in, this variant also has its own bespoke option pack, the MINI Seven Chili pack. This offers customers so-called 'MINI Yours' features such as 'Lounge Leather Upholstery' in Carbon Black and the 'MINI Yours' Steering Wheel in 'Walk' Nappa leather with a waxed hand stitched seem. Other features of this pack are unique in the small car segment, including LED headlights, multifunction controls for the steering wheel and cruise control with brake function.
Additional optional equipment from the MINI range is also available to further customise the MINI Seven. This includes the popular panorama glass roof, windscreen heating, front driver and passenger seat heating, the Harmon Kardon hi-fi speaker system as well as the 'MINI Connected XL' package and the MINI Navigation System.
Cost of Ownership
The third-generation MINI's biggest step forward has undoubtedly come in the area of engine efficiency and the five-door car continues that theme. Go for the Cooper D and it'll manage 78.5mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions rated at 95g/km. Even the 360Nm torque of the Cooper SD will still see you get 68.9 miles from a gallon of diesel. The automatic gearbox features an engine start/stop function, preventing unnecessary fuel consumption. When used in conjunction with the MINI Navigation System, it's able to take account of the selected route profile and control gear shifts. Based on navigation data, the appropriate drive position is selected to match the road ahead, preventing unnecessary upshifts.
MINIMALISM environmental technologies include a shift-point display function and optimised preheating process on the diesels. Brake energy recuperation and need-oriented control of the fuel pump, coolant pump and other ancillary units feature on all models. The electromechanical power steering and map-controlled oil pumps in all engines are optimised for the most efficient use. There's even an optimised preheating process which delivers a 50 per cent reduction in the energy required to start the diesel engines.
At first glance, the thought of having to find a premium of nearly £3,000 on top of the cost of an ordinary MINI Hatch model to get this Seven variant might not sound too attractive. That's until you put yourself in the mindset of the typical MINI Hatch buyer. He - or more likely she - will certainly not want to stick with the standard spec anyway and many of the things likely to be wanted as options are included in this 'Seven' package, along with some other features that ordinary MINI Hatch buyers simply can't get access to.
It's this feeling of exclusivity that will sell this variant - and may even help it maintain its value slightly more strongly than an ordinary MINI Hatch would. If that's enough of an argument for you to justify one, then by all means go ahead. After all, you only live once.