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Car group tests

MINI Cooper S vs Audi S1 vs Ford Fiesta ST

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? 

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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.

Head-to-head

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. 

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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. 

Suspension

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.  

Verdict

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 MountuneMINI Cooper SAudi S1
    
On the road price/total as tested£19,849/£19,84918,655/£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/cost30/£344/E/£13028/£335/E/£13033/TBC/G/£180
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£550 (3yrs)£299 (5yrs/50k)£450 (5yrs/50k)
    
Length/wheelbase3,982/2,489mm3,850/2,495mm3,975/2,469mm
Height/width1,468/1,764mm1,414/1,727mm1,417/1,747mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,596cc4cyl in-line/1,998cc4cyl in-line/1,984cc
Peak power/revs 212/5,700 bhp/rpm189/4,700 bhp/rpm228/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 320/1,600 Nm/rpm280/1,250 Nm/rpm370/1,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/space saver 44 litres/sealant45 litres/sealant
Boot capacity290/974 litres211/731 litres210/860 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,163/421kg1,235/450kg1,315/450kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.1 metres/0.33Cd10.8 metres/N/A10.6 metres/0.34Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (unltd)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500/781 Variable/148Variable/121
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.25th/29th*30th/14th*13th/23rd*
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars91/86/65/5N/AN/A
    
0-60/30-70mph6.9/5.7 secs7.1/6.0 secs5.7/5.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.7/3.6 secs2.9/3.6 secs2.2/2.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th4.5/5.4 secs4.7/5.9 secs3.9/4.7 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 139mph/2,500rpm146mph/2,800rpm155mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 53.4/36.4/9.1m49.4/36.5/8.9m46.8/34.4/9.0m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph65/50/67/75dB67/46/64/73dB64/46/64/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range30.3/6.7/320 miles32.5/7.2/315 miles26.9/6.0/266 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 35.8/58.9/47.9mpg37.2/61.4/49.6mpg31.0/48.7/40.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 7.9/13.0/10.5mpl8.2/13.5/10.9mpl6.8/10.7/8.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket215/138g/km/20%201/133g/km/19%243/162g/km/25%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/yesSix/yes/£215Six/yes/£225
Adapt dampers/air susp/hill descent No/yes/part£375/£215/£1,075Yes/£215/£650
Climate control/leather/heated seats£495/£200/no£475/£260/£255£340/£345/no
Met paint/xenon lights/cruise controlNo/yes/no£675/£150/£1,625£695/£125/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes£1,175^/yes/yes£875/yes/yes
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