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...
Now read our head-to-head group test results below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%|
|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)|
|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|
|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|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||30.3/6.7/320 miles||32.5/7.2/315 miles||26.9/6.0/266 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||215/138g/km/20%||201/133g/km/19%||243/162g/km/25%|
|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|