WITH Union Jack rear lights and 'The Italian Job' vibe in full flow it is impossible not to have fun in the MINI Cooper.
The commute to work becomes one endless Michael Caine riff with, ‘you're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off', my particular favourite from one travelling companion.
The exterior of the three-door model successfully apes the 1960s iconic design so while being helpfully much larger when it comes to passengers and shopping, it still invokes the era of mini skirts and The Beatles.
For those proud of their country this MINI is the place to be as they can also specify an illuminated Union Flag on the passenger-side dashboard.
Flick the ignition toggle and the 1.5-litre petrol engine springs into life providing the propulsion to zip you around town avoiding the Carabinieri to your heart's content.
The turbocharged three-pot engine offers a great soundtrack as you pull away and is no slouch hitting 62mph from a standing start in eight seconds on its way to a top speed of 130mph. Its partner in crime is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that is smoother than Hollywood legend David Niven providing seamless changes.
The power unit, with the help of stop-start and a ‘Green' economy driving mode, is easy on the juice as well with a claimed average fuel economy figure of 54.3mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 119g/km.
If you've been around the MINI brand since BMW took it on in 2001 then the description of ‘go-kart handling' will be no surprise, but it remains the best way to describe the driving experience. The Cooper Sport sampled here corners as if on rails with no body roll and a ton of grip inspiring lots of confidence to go on the attack. It is fun with a capital ‘F' with the low-slung driving position sealing the deal.
The range starts with the surprisingly well-equipped Classic and goes on to the Exclusive at the summit. The Sport version sits in the middle of the pair offering 17-inch alloy wheels and a sumptuous interior full of natty retro detailing including the iconic dinner plate display which is home to the sat nav and a colourful outer ring that flashes when it wants to attract your attention.
Also included are comfortable and supportive sports seats as well as cruise control and the ability to personalise the exterior and interior to within an inch of their lives. There are toggle switches on the centre console and a BMW-style iDrive controller between the front seats giving easy access to the car's many goodies. Smartphones can be hooked up via Apple CarPlay.
The cabin offers plenty of space up front with comprehensive adjustment for both seat and steering wheel ensuring the best possible driving position.
The three-door model is a little tighter in the rear than the five-door version with legroom dependent on the size of the adults in front of you.
There are plenty of storage options with two gloveboxes and a central armrest that provides a home for your mobile phone.
The boot, with a twin-floor as standard, can cope with 211 litres of shopping or a couple of carry-on luggage cases for that holiday flight abroad.