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New Mini: more details

15 August 2006

Mini has released more details about the next-generation model, which goes on sale at the end of the year.

The manufacturer has decided that evolution is better than revolution, so the new car promises the same successful formula of cute looks, a thrilling drive and a funky, upmarket interior.

Despite minimal changes to the car's appearance, it is almost entirely new, and the most important alterations lie under the bonnet.

The old car's lacklustre power units - one of its few weaknesses - have been replaced by a range of new engines, developed in conjunction with Peugeot, and the suspension has been thoroughly reworked to improve the ride without blunting the sharp handling. Sports suspension will be an option on both Cooper models.

The new Cooper and Cooper S (which go on sale later this year for £12,995 and £15,995) each get 1.6-litre petrol engines, the latter now with a turbocharger rather than a supercharger.

The One, which goes on sale along with the new Mini diesel in the first half of 2007, gets a 1.4-litre unit.

Performance gains are small - only the new is quicker than its predecessor to 62mph, and then by just 0.1sec at 7.1sec - but fuel economy is substantially improved, at 48.7mpg for the Cooper (up from 40.9mpg) and 40.9mpg for the S (up from 32.8mpg).

Changes to the Mini's interior are more noticeable than those to the outside. The cabin design is familiar but has been freshened up, with higher-quality plastics designed to create a more upmarket ambience.

The trademark central speedometer remains, but this time it's even bigger and houses audio controls and the optional sat-nav system.

Mini has kept its distinctive toggle switches on the centre console, although those too are now bigger, and it has also introduced a panel of switches on the ceiling.

Among the ceiling-mounted controls is an optional switch that controls five different colours of ambient 'mood lighting' in the cabin.

The only controls that have become smaller are those for the fiddly climate control system, which is housed inconveniently close to the floor.

Rear-seat space has been marginally improved, with cut-outs in the front seat backs to increase legroom, but adults will still find the rear cramped.

We've only driven the new Mini on a track, but on initial impressions it offers the same combination of sharp handling and pace that made its predecessor so popular.

BMW has high expectations for the Mini, with the Oxford factory gearing up for increased production of 240,000 cars a year.

One £11,595 1.4 94bhp

Cooper £12,995 1.6 118bhp

Cooper S £15,995 1.6 turbo 173bhp

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