The Mini One’s petrol engine is best at high revs, but it’s smooth and willing, so that’s no hardship. The diesel version is even more impressive, pulling strongly from just above idle. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard in both, while a six-speed automatic is available as an option.
Even in One form, the Mini is one of the best-driving small cars around. It's great fun on twisty roads thanks to its go-kart handling and well-weighted, informative steering. It's easy to drive around town, and although there's a firm edge to the ride, it's never choppy or uncomfortable.
Both engines are smooth and cultured, even when worked hard. Unfortunately, the Mini lets in too much road noise at anything above walking pace, and there’s quite a bit of wind noise on the motorway. The gearshift is slick, although it’s too easy to select reverse when you really want first.
It's not cheap and you can forget about discounts, yet the Mini still makes sound financial sense. No car in this class holds its value as well, and fuel, contract hire and company car tax bills are all low. For £185, you can also have Mini's TLC package, which covers all routine servicing costs for five years or 50,000 miles.
The Mini has a premium image, but although much of the interior trim looks the part, some of the materials and switchgear are disappointingly plasticky. Mini owners are a happy bunch according to the 2012 JD Power survey, and the car earned a reasonable rating for mechanical reliability.
Every Mini comes with front, side and cabin-length window airbags. You also get clever anti-lock brakes, which will work mid-bend without unsettling the car, and ISOFIX child seat mountings. Stability control costs extra, but it's reasonably priced at £350. The Mini has most of the security parts that make BMWs so hard to steal.
The Mini's driver's seat is comfy and there's a wide range of adjustment for both that and the steering wheel, but the dash is far too fussy. The huge central speedo is hard to miss, but the stereo and heater controls are difficult to read and awkwardly placed. The retro toggle switches put style above ease of use, too.
The Mini has lots of head- and legroom for those in front and reasonable space for two rear passengers. However, getting in and out of the rear seats requires a fair degree of dexterity, because the door opening is low and narrow. The boot is small, with room for just a couple of holdalls, although the 50/50 split rear-seat back folds for more space.
The Mini One comes with a range of well-priced options. It's just as well, because you're going to need quite a few of them. Electric front windows, remote central locking and a CD player come as standard, and air conditioning is now fitted, but alloy wheels cost extra. There are also several option packs, including the Sport and Media Packs, but the Pepper Pack makes most sense, adding lots of desirable features in one go.
Order a brochure, find your nearest dealer or book a test drive
The price makes the Mini One 1.6 a very tempting way into a Mini - and it's a fine car. However, if you have an extra £1000 or so, you can can either up the spec or choose the Cooper for an even livelier drive.