Feature

Used test – high fashion: Mini Cooper S vs Nissan Juke vs Volkswagen Beetle

These three prioritise style and fun above all else. But which of them is bang on trend – and which is a fashion disaster?

Words ByWhat Car? team

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Our Verdict

People tend to either want a Volkswagen Beetle or not, and if you do, you’ve probably been attracted by the way it looks. But under the skin, there are other reasons to want one. It’s composed and responsive in corners, there’s loads of room in the front seats, and the interior has a certain old-world charm about it.

Were it cheaper to buy and run, that would make the Beetle a palatable option. But not only is it the most expensive car here, but it’s also the costliest to service, and the spectre of poor reliability hangs over it more ominously than it does with the other two cars. What’s more, the firm suspension means the Beetle isn’t particularly comfortable, and while the engine is flexible enough, it’s certainly no ball of fire.

There isn’t enough here to overcome its cost disadvantage in other words. But a cost disadvantage certainly isn’t something the Nissan Juke needs to worry about. Yes, it’s thirsty, but you’ll have to do lots of miles for that to outweigh the significant saving you’ll make on purchase over either of the other two cars here. What’s more, the Juke is the dragster of the lot – that engine makes it delightfully quick.

But, as the old advertising slogan goes, power is nothing without control, and the latter is something the Juke lacks. It spins its wheels and slides far too easily, while numb steering means it isn’t much fun to drive, and a harsh ride makes it uncomfortable too. The Juke is the most forward-looking of our three, to be sure, but that isn’t enough to make it a compelling purchase.

The Mini, on the other hand, is exactly that. Yes, it’s costlier than the Nissan, but it’s cheaper than the Volkswagen, while low fuel and maintenance costs should help mitigate that further. It isn’t perfect, mind you; the boot is tiny, and while it’s more comfortable than the other two, its ride is still firm.

But you’ll instantly dismiss these shortcomings as mere minor niggles the instant you press the starter button. It’s so much fun to drive, thanks to its potent engine, sharp handling and tactile controls. It also comes with a gem of an interior. Of course, it’s undoubtedly deeply fashionable – as are all three cars here. But the Mini Cooper S is the one with the substance to back up its style.

Read our review of the latest Mini

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Also consider:


1st – Mini Cooper S

For Storming performance and handling; affordable running costs; cute interior

Against Miniscule boot; high insurance group

Verdict Still an absolute blast to drive, great to be in, and easy on the wallet.

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Mini review

Find a used Mini Cooper S for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


2nd – Nissan Juke

For Firecracker performance; low price; good reliability reputation

Against Thirsty; engine often overpowers grip; poor visibility

Verdict The turbo Juke is a hoot, but it can some sometimes feel a bit disconcerting

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full Nissan Juke review

Find a used Nissan Juke for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


3rd – Volkswagen Beetle

For Striking looks; airy cabin; good-sized boot

Against Expensive to buy and run; cramped rear seats; reliability question mark

Verdict Unexciting drive doesn’t match the looks, and costs are high

Rated 3 out of 5

Read the full Volkswagen Beetle review

Find a used Volkswagen Beetle for sale in the What Car? Classifieds


Specifications: Mini Cooper S

Engine size 1.6-litre petrol

List price when new Β£18,075

Price today Β£9500

Power 181bhp

Torque 177lb ft

0-60mph 7.7sec

Top speed 142mph

Fuel economy 48.7mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 136g/km


Specifications: Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T Tekna

Engine size 1.6-litre petrol

List price when new Β£18,095

Price today Β£8500

Power 188bhp

Torque 177lb ft

0-60mph 7.4sec

Top speed 134mph

Fuel economy 40.9mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 159g/km


Specifications: Volkswagen Beetle 1.4 TSI 160 Sport

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

List price when new Β£21,220

Price today Β£10,000

Power 158bhp

Torque 177lb ft

0-60mph 9.1sec

Top speed 129mph

Fuel economy 42.8mpg (Official average)

CO2 emissions 153g/km


Price today is based on a 2012 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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