MINI - Used Car

Review

Mini Cooper, front
Mini Cooper, front
Mini Cooper, rear
MINI Cooper, dashboard
MINI Cooper, front seats
MINI Cooper, boot 1

THE BMW MINI might look very similar to the original 1960s model designed by Sir Alec Issigonis but in fact, it's much bigger in every direction.

It has been a huge success ever since it was launched and demand is such that even some years down the line, prices remain high for good examples.

Those prices stay up because this is a car that's great to look at, comfortable to ride in, fun to drive and stylish to be seen in, making all very sought after.

The latest hatch has been around since 2014 with updates, while the Convertible was launched in 2016, the five door Clubman estate in 2015 and the Countryman SUV in 2017.

The lowliest petrol MINI One is appreciably slower than the Cooper, with 102bhp instead of 136 from the same 1.5-litre three cylinder engine.

But both feel lovely and responsive out on the road, with the same excellent build quality and quirky yet functional and stylish interior.

The larger models are heavier and therefore slower than the equivalent hatch with the same power unit.

They all look great and those looks are carried through to the experience on the road, with an excellent chassis giving superb agility, positive and direct power steering that has loads of feedback and a comfortable ride.

But the ride and handling in the Countryman feel quite different to those in the other models, and ride is compromised in the S and John Cooper Works (JCW) by stiffer suspension and bigger wheels.

For this appraisal, all the figures I quote are for the three door hatch.

There are manual and automatic gearboxes available in all guises and the manuals have a light clutch and a delightfully easy, slick gearchange.

The brakes are superb, and the roadholding, with a huge amount of grip up to phenomenal cornering speeds, is top notch.

The One has 102bhp and reaches 60 from rest in 10 seconds while managing a best of 52mpg, and the Cooper has 136bhp giving the same economy and bringing up 60 in 7.8.

Then we move up to the Cooper S, which has a 2 litre power unit producing 178bhp. It gets to 60 in 6.5 seconds and will do a best of 43mpg, but the JCW with 231bhp is performance king as you would expect, covering the sprint in 6 seconds while still managing 40mpg.

Diesel engines are a 1.5 with 93bhp in the One D or 114 in the Cooper D, and a 2.0-litre for the SD that has 167. All three have excellent economy with the Cooper capable of 74mpg, and the 0 to 60 times are 10.8, 9.1 and 7.2 seconds respectively.

Reliability is very good so you will rarely have any problems - and of course, the MINI is now one of the few cars still built in this country, so by buying one, you will be supporting home industries.

Inside, everything is sophisticated and special, with great seats, an excellent driving position and well placed controls.

There is a split folding back seat, and a proper hatchback, but the hatches are two or three seaters, because with front seat back for a six foot driver, there is not much rear legroom.

Basic equipment in the Cooper includes an alarm, stability control, remote locking, electric windows and mirrors, air conditioning, AM/FM radio, good seat and column adjustment and a service indicator.

They also have plenty of airbags and other safety devices, plus alloy wheels, but of course, most secondhand will have added spec from the wide list of add-ons that manufacturers like to call personalization.

There is a bewildering number of models available with every engine and all I can say is, make sure that any you want to buy have everything you want already fitted.

Pay about £7,850 for a '16 16-reg Cooper 1.5 petrol, or £15,100 for a '19 19-reg Cooper S.

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