MINI Cooper S vs Audi S1 vs Ford Fiesta ST

18 Jun, 2014 3:00pm

The new MINI Cooper S meets Audi and Ford rivals in a thrilling battle for hot hatch honours

The arrival of a new MINI Cooper S is big news for hot hatch fans. The latest, third-generation MINI is larger and more refined than before, and proved it’s lost none of its desirability when the Cooper D diesel won our road test in Issue 1,312. 

But can the 189bhp 2.0-litre Cooper S retain the feisty character and thrilling performance that made the last car a hot hatch favourite? And does it have what it takes to get the better of the wild 228bhp Audi S1? 

The new Audi S1 is inspired by the limited-edition A1 quattro, and wraps a punchy turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and four-wheel-drive transmission in a compact supermini package. Alternatively, you could go for our reigning hot hatch of the year – the Ford Fiesta ST.

In recently revealed flagship ST-3 trim and with the factory-approved Mountune upgrade, it matches its premium rivals for performance and kit, and looks great value for money.

If you’re in the market for a small hot hatch, you’ve never had it so good – but which pocket rocket takes the spoils?

Click the links below for the full verdict on each car...

MINI Cooper S review

• Ford Fiesta ST review

• Audi S1 review

Now read our head-to-head group test results below.


Sporty seats

A good hot hatch’s seats need to be comfortable on a long trip, yet supportive enough when you’re cornering hard. All three cars score well here, but the Audi and Ford have the sportiest seats. 

The seats in the Audi S1 are part leather and have good lumbar support and height adjustment, while the optional versions worth around £600 get full leather. All versions of the Fiesta ST come with heavily bolstered Recaros, and the ST-3 features two-stage heating. 


The Audi S1 gets standard Drive Select adaptive dampers, while variable damper control costs around £375 extra on the MINI. Either way, both cars ride better than the Fiesta with conventional dampers. However, Mountune will fit lighter OZ racing wheels to lower the unsprung weight and improve ride.  


The space race

For buyers wanting decent boot and passenger space from their hot hatch, the Fiesta is the best choice. The load area on this latest MINI is bigger than the old car’s, but you’ll have to wait for next year’s five-door if you want Fiesta-rivalling capacity.  


1st place: Ford Fiesta ST

It doesn’t have a premium badge, but when it comes to pure driving joy, the Ford Fiesta ST has a clear edge. Aside from a firm ride, this is a car you’ll never tire of driving. It’s good value for money, and the Mountune kit means it has the performance to match.

2nd place: MINI Cooper S

The new MINI has grown up and is more comfortable and upmarket than ever. While the Cooper S isn’t as sharp as the Ford and lacks the outright performance of the Audi, it’s a fantastic day-to-day hot hatch, with that unique MINI style.

3rd place: Audi S1

There’s lots to like about the Audi S1 as it offers everything that’s good about fast Audis in a smaller package. It has more performance than its rivals, and a quality cabin. But it’s expensive and doesn’t have the fun factor of the best hot hatches.  

Ford Fiesta ST-3 Mountune MINI Cooper S Audi S1
On the road price/total as tested £19,849/£19,849 18,655/£24,895 £24,905/£29,545
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £9,170/46.2% £9,160/49.1% £12,477/50.1%
Depreciation £10,679 £9,495 £12,428
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £739/£1,478 £702/£1,404 £1,234/£2,467
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £2,341/£3,901 £2,182/£3,637 £2,636/£4,394
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 30/£344/E/£130 28/£335/E/£130 33/TBC/G/£180
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £550 (3yrs) £299 (5yrs/50k) £450 (5yrs/50k)
Length/wheelbase 3,982/2,489mm 3,850/2,495mm 3,975/2,469mm
Height/width 1,468/1,764mm 1,414/1,727mm 1,417/1,747mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,596cc 4cyl in-line/1,998cc 4cyl in-line/1,984cc
Peak power/revs  212/5,700 bhp/rpm 189/4,700 bhp/rpm 228/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs  320/1,600 Nm/rpm 280/1,250 Nm/rpm 370/1,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission  6-spd man/fwd 6-spd man/fwd 6-spd man/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 48 litres/space saver  44 litres/sealant 45 litres/sealant
Boot capacity 290/974 litres 211/731 litres 210/860 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,163/421kg 1,235/450kg 1,315/450kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 10.1 metres/0.33Cd 10.8 metres/N/A 10.6 metres/0.34Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 3yrs (unltd)/3yrs 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 12,500/781  Variable/148 Variable/121
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 25th/29th* 30th/14th* 13th/23rd*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars 91/86/65/5 N/A N/A
0-60/30-70mph 6.9/5.7 secs 7.1/6.0 secs 5.7/5.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 2.7/3.6 secs 2.9/3.6 secs 2.2/2.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th 4.5/5.4 secs 4.7/5.9 secs 3.9/4.7 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  139mph/2,500rpm 146mph/2,800rpm 155mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  53.4/36.4/9.1m 49.4/36.5/8.9m 46.8/34.4/9.0m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph 65/50/67/75dB 67/46/64/73dB 64/46/64/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 30.3/6.7/320 miles 32.5/7.2/315 miles 26.9/6.0/266 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  35.8/58.9/47.9mpg 37.2/61.4/49.6mpg 31.0/48.7/40.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  7.9/13.0/10.5mpl 8.2/13.5/10.9mpl 6.8/10.7/8.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 215/138g/km/20% 201/133g/km/19% 243/162g/km/25%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Seven/yes/yes Six/yes/£215 Six/yes/£225
Adapt dampers/air susp/hill descent  No/yes/part £375/£215/£1,075 Yes/£215/£650
Climate control/leather/heated seats £495/£200/no £475/£260/£255 £340/£345/no
Met paint/xenon lights/cruise control No/yes/no £675/£150/£1,625 £695/£125/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth Yes/yes/yes £1,175^/yes/yes £875/yes/yes