MINI One review
The entry-level car has all the character of its more powerful stablemates.
The One uses a 1.4-litre jointly developed with Peugeot-Citroen. It musters 95bhp, which sounds weedy – but it’s not a disaster against the clock. 0-60mph comes up in 10.9 seconds, and the smooth, free-revving all-aluminium motor backs this up with decent cruising ability. The availability of generous torque low down in the rev range means the Brit is surprisingly relaxed over extended periods behind the wheel. The gearbox is slick and precise, too. And out on the road, the MINI uses its long, wide stance to stake a claim as a real driver’s car. Through faster corners it feels stable and balanced and the electrically-assisted steering is precise and nicely weighted. Stiff suspension keeps any body roll in check and provides sharp responses, although the downside is a ride that isn’t as supple as the best.
The One is the entry into the ultra-popular MINI line-up. Apart from the badge, it’s often hard to distinguish from more expensive variants – normally because buyers indulge in the lengthy extras list and variety of trendy roof decals. It has an unmistakable chrome grille and body profile. If you’re looking for more power, you’ll move up to costlier Coopers and Cooper S variants – the One is there to provide an accessible price for MINI fans, who may also be considering the Fiat 500, VW Beetle, smart fortwo or Daihatsu Materia. All, like the MINI, will help set them apart from the usual small-car crowd.
Look inside and the MINI is like Dr Who’s Tardis in reverse, because its long wheelbase and commanding exterior dimensions hide a poorly packaged interior. There’s plenty of room up front, but even shorter rivals are a more than a match when it comes to back seat space, and usually provide a better boot, too. However, you don’t buy a MINI for practicality – where it excels is the feelgood factor. To set itself apart from the crowd, the MINI relies on a bank of retro-style toggle switches, a distinctive centrally positioned chrome-ringed speedo and body-coloured accents. Build quality is excellent too, though equipment levels aren’t great. Even air con is extra. The pay-off is some of the best retained values in the business, plus support from MINI’s excellent aftersales network. The tlc all-inclusive servicing pack is also a winner – and there’s no arguing with a diesel-like 53.3mpg on the combined cycle, either!