The Mini 5dr drives in much the same fashion as the more popular three-door model. The steering is rather inconsistently weighted and rather quick off the straight ahead; until you adjust to it, this makes the car a bit flighty to chuck in to a corner. Try to corner hard and you’ll notice the front end running wide of your chosen line earlier than you might expect, so the Mini ultimately falls short of the dynamic benchmarks set by the Seat Ibiza, Ford Fiesta and Audi A1 Sportback.
You save very little money by buying the less powerful One model, so our recommendation is to head straight for our favourite engine: the 1.5-litre turbo petrol in the Cooper. It’s smooth, exceptionally quiet and, with maximum torque – or pulling power – available from just 1250rpm, it's very easy to maintain swift, relaxed progress.
The Cooper D’s 1.5-litre diesel engine isn’t quite as nippy as the petrol Cooper, but it still pulls strongly from low revs and is remarkably smooth for a small diesel. Unsurprisingly, it also nets you quite a few more miles to the gallon.
We wouldn’t bother with the more powerful 2.0-litre engine in the hotter Cooper S. Yes, it's quicker, but it pushes up the price considerably and the car isn’t a particularly great hot hatch compared with the rival Ford Fiesta ST; if anything, the bigger and heavier engine actually makes the car handle less sharply than the 1.5-litre Cooper.
Road and wind noise at 70mph are generally more hushed than its rivals. However, the standard six-speed manual gearbox is notchy and limp, so doesn't match the image of such a premium car. There’s an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic should you want a self-shifter.
Stick with 15in or 16in wheels and the Mini rides pretty well; not quite as smoothly as an Ibiza or Fiesta, but better than an A1. If you can’t resist the urge to go for bigger wheels, we would advise spending a bit extra on Variable Damper Control. This clever gadget, in effect, allows you to make the suspension softer or firmer by pressing a button, and the Comfort setting goes some way to mitigate the drawbacks of bigger wheels.