All but the range-topping Mini Cooper S and SD get turbocharged, three-cylinder engines. The Mini One uses a 1.2 petrol unit, while the Mini One D and Cooper D both use a 1.5-litre diesel in 94bhp and 114bhp forms respectively.
The Cooper gets a 1.5-litre petrol and the Cooper S a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. The 1.5 petrol is our favourite engine. It pulls strongly across the rev range without any of the annoying surges in power delivery that you often get with three-cylinder engines.
The Cooper D is hard to fault if you favour diesel power, although it’s not as potent as the Cooper.
We’d recommend avoiding the Cooper S. It’s seriously rapid and easy to drive smoothly, but the better-value Cooper is just as much fun in real-world use, and is far from slow.
Mini Hatchback 3dr ride comfort
It’s worth adding adaptive dampers to the Mini, because they’re very reasonably priced and provide a slightly more pliant ride than you’ll get on standard suspension. If you don’t want to fork out extra money, stick to smaller wheels and the standard suspension does a good job of smoothing out ruts and undulations effectively. The ride is still a bit pattery around town, though, and the Mini can be unsettled by mid-corner bumps, so avoid the optional sports suspension.
Mini Hatchback 3dr handling
We’ve driven cars with the Mini Driving Modes fitted, which brings three variable driving settings.
In default normal mode, the steering is well-weighted and feels quick off the dead-ahead, giving it the trademark darty Mini handling; a tight turning circle also helps with around-town manoeuvring. However, the steering can feel slightly nervous on the motorway, and can self-centre a bit aggressively as you exit tight, low-speed corners, while the Sport setting is unnecessarily heavy.
It handles corners just like you’d expect a Mini to, with sharp turn-in and loads of grip. The smaller-engined Cooper and Cooper D actually feel a touch more nimble than the hot Cooper S – a benefit of their lighter engines – but all will wash wide through a fast corner sooner than some might expect given the Mini’s sporting pretensions. An Audi A1, for instance, actually has slightly more grip at the front, and so will resist scrubbing wide through a corner for longer than the Mini.
Mini Hatchback 3dr refinement
The engines in the Cooper and Cooper D are remarkably refined; you feel barely any vibration through the steering wheel or pedals, and a muted off-beat thrum is all you hear unless you really put your foot down, although the D can get a bit gruff at higher revs.
The Cooper S sounds suitably sporty, thanks in part to a system that directs engine noise into the cabin. More irritating is the wind noise over the windscreen, which is noticeable on the motorway.
The six-speed manual gearbox that is standard across the range is a bit notchy, and has a heavier shift-action than you might expect of a small car, but the clutch is light, so it’s still easy to drive around town. The Cooper S gets a system that matches the engine revs to the ratio selected on downshifts, making it very smooth, even in hard driving. A six-speed automatic is available as an option.
The 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine is smooth and sprightly, and gets the same six-speed manual gearbox as the rest of the range. A six-speed automatic is optional.
The 1.5-litre, three-cylinder diesel engine is even better than the 1.2 petrol. It gets the same six-speed manual ’box as the rest of the range.
Our pick Cooper
This 1.5-litre turbo petrol is smooth, quiet and punchy – even from low revs. This is our favourite engine.
Excellent economy from this three-cylinder 1.5 diesel, and the most refined diesel engine in a small car; sweet-revving and punchy, although it does feel a bit gutless at higher revs.
Proper hot hatch pace from the 2.0-litre motor, with the pop and crackle exhaust note to match. There is a bit of a surge as the turbo kicks in, though, and purchase and running costs are much higher than those for the equally fun Cooper.