Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Mini might trade on the ‘go-kart feel’ of its cars, but in this case the marketing strapline doesn’t translate into a reality. The steering is well weighted but feels artificial in its responses, and although it’s certainly very quick to respond (only a tiny movement of the wheel is needed to get the car to change direction), that only serves to make the five-door Mini feel nervous and twitchy, rather than fun, at faster speeds.
In contrast, the Audi A1 doesn’t just have more naturally weighted steering – it also feels far more composed during quick changes of direction and ultimately has more grip when you need it. If you want a small car that's genuinely good fun to drive, the Ford Fiesta is top of the pile.
Whichever model you choose – but especially if you go for big alloy wheels – there's quite a lot of tyre noise at 70mph compared with rivals such as the Peugeot 208 and Audi A1. The Mini's standard six-speed manual gearbox is rather notchy, too. There’s an optional seven-speed automatic in case you want a self-shifter.
The Mini doesn't ride as smoothly as most versions of the Peugeot 208 or Audi A1, either. To ensure your fillings stay where they're supposed to be, it's best to avoid alloy wheels larger than 16in. On 17in wheels, you’re jostled around too much along beaten-up urban backstreets, and things don’t settle down completely, even on a motorway.
Adaptive suspension is standard on Sport trim and optional on Exclusive, but it doesn’t let you stiffen or soften the suspension at will.