MINI Hatch 3-Door F56 (2014-2018)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

3dr Hatch (1.2, 1.5, 2.0 petrol/ 1.5 diesel [One, Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper SD, Cooper S, JCW])


Third time round, BMW’s modern era MINI turned out to be a much more sophisticated thing. This three-door Hatch version is slightly more practical than its R56-series predecessor and feels considerably better built. It’s far more efficient too, with the bulk of the range using a punchier range of eager three cylinder engines. And its more sophisticated underpinnings are better suited to longer journeys. In short, this car came of age in third generation form. But does it make sense as a used buy?

The History

‘The MINI is a way of life. A friend. It holds a special place in our hearts’. We’re quoting from BMW, who of course are makers of the modern era model, but the words could have come from Alec Issigonis, designer of the 1959 original. That car was never fundamentally changed in nearly half a century of production. This one, in contrast, reached its third generation quite quickly - in 2014 - and was first launched in the three-door Hatch F56 form we’re going to look at here.

The MK3 MINI offered us a fresh chapter in a modern era success story. By the time of its introduction, over 2.4 million first and second generation versions of what we could call the ‘Ger-MINI’ had rolled out of the British Oxford factory gates since the day that this car was originally re-launched by BMW in 2001, before being thoroughly updated again in 2006 second generation modern form. These two initial BMW-funded designs proved just how much people were prepared to pay for a small, cute runabout with quality, style and its own cheeky brand of class. Inevitably, they also prompted a whole host of imitators, most with this three-door Hatch version firmly in their sights.

Whether you’re talking city scoots like the Fiat 500 or the Toyota iQ, smart superminis like the Citroen DS3 and the Alfa MiTo or even trendy small Crossovers like the Nissan Juke or Kia Soul, all claimed inspiration from this car and targeted much the same fashion-conscious customers.

People now wanting a bit more than simply trendy design and a bit of fun behind the wheel. By 2014, they were also people wanting a little more luxury, from a car more comfortable in venturing further afield. Driving efficiency and interior space also figured a little higher up customer wish lists than had been the case with previous generation MINI Hatch models. All of which, in developing the MK3 F56 model, left BMW needing to turn a fresh page in the colourful history of this iconic car. You might think that it looks much the same as the previous R56 version but in fact, almost everything was changed for the F56 – the platform, the engines, the technology: all was re-invented.

Impressively, the MINI makers managed to achieve all this while still retaining most of the same effervescent MINI character. A five-door F55 version of this design was launched in 2015 and both body styles sold steadily until MINI announced a light mid-term facelift in the Spring of 2018. It’s the earlier pre-facelift three-door F56 Hatch model that we look at here as a used buy.

What To Look For

There aren’t many reported issues with this F56-series MINI Hatch mechanically. The only one we came across related to a batch of cars with the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine that suffered from oil leaks. If the car you’re looking at had such a leak, tell-tale signs include rough running and a poor idle. A new gasket is the ultimate fix.

We also came across a few 2.0-litre cars experiencing the odd clutch problem. The torque of the engine seems to be part of the problem, but some owners have reported that their clutch is slipping quite early in the car’s life. Even then, it wasn’t that straightforward. Apparently, the on-board sensor designed to be an early-warning system of clutch failure proved in some cases to be just too sensitive for its own good, throwing up a false warning on the dashboard when there was actually no problem at all. Dealerships have tackled this by taking any car in question out on to the road and performing a series of full-throttle acceleration tests in both second and fourth gear. Any clutch slip meant a new clutch was needed, but if there was no slip, the software was recalibrated to prevent the false alarms. Either way, the acceleration test is one you should perform when test-driving any Cooper S with a manual gearbox.

On The Road

So. What’s it like? Slip behind the wheel and at first glance, if you’re familiar with the old R56 MK2 Mini Hatch, you might think that quite a lot seems to have changed. The driving position feels a bit less upright, the dashboard is smarter and you aren’t faced with quite so many obvious attention-seeking gimmicks. That massive dinner plate display that used to house an almost indecipherable speedometer is still there, but it’s here simply used for infotainment, the speedo re-located to a pod above the steering wheel. The same wheel that used to completely obscure the slot into which you had to press your ignition key to start the thing. That silly slot’s now gone too, replaced instead by a neat starter switch in the middle of the familiar row of toggle controls that have survived at the bottom of the centre stack.

On the move, your first impressions should be good. At the foot of the range, there’s a choice between various three cylinder engines – a 1.2-litre unit in the MINI One, a 1.5-litre petrol in the Cooper and a 1.5-litre diesel in the Cooper D. A range of 2.0-litre four cylinder powerplants feature further up the range, in the Cooper SD diesel and in the petrol-powered Cooper S and JCW variants. People love the styling and the image, but one of these just has to put a smile on your face when you drive it. If the overall feeling you’re going to get is of just another supermini wearing a cute suit, you'd have to question this car’s place in the overall scheme of things.


You wanted more MINI? Well this F56-series 3-door Hatch version delivers it. It’s more refined than the previous R56 car. Plus it’s more spacious, more up-market and it makes better economic sense. In short, in this guise, this car grew up and faced its responsibilities, like all of us have to. Which leaves us with a British-built benchmark in the premium small car segment from this era. And a car that, though easy to imitate, is difficult to beat as a used buy in its segment.