Used MINI review

A full used buyer’s guide on the MINI covering the MINI Mk2 (2006-2014) and the MINI Mk3 (2014-date)

MINI Mk2

History

The MINI Mk2 was launched in November 2006, in 120bhp Cooper and 175bhp Cooper S forms, with 1.6-litre petrol engines.

By March 2007 the 1.6-litre diesel-engined Cooper D and entry-level 1.4-litre 95bhp petrol One had joined the range. From August 2007 stop/start was standard. In 2009, the 1.4-litre First became the entry point, while the One got a 1.6-litre engine.

The hot 211bhp John Cooper Works was introduced in March 2009, then a facelift in September 2010 brought new diesel engines and revised petrol units, even more personalisation options and fresh styling.

In September 2012, the hottest MINI of all arrived – the 218bhp John Cooper Works GP – before the range was replaced by BMW’s Mk3 MINI in spring 2014.

MINI Mk2 reviews

MINI One reviewMINI Cooper reviewMINI Cooper S reviewMINI Cooper D reviewMINI Cooper S JCW reviewMINI JCW GP II reviewMINI JCW long-term reviewMINI One Convertible review

Which one should I buy?

All MINI hatches feature three doors, so it’s just a question of working out which engine, gearbox and trim you want. But MINI is the king of personalisation, so you also need to pin down exactly what options are fitted to any potential purchase.

A raft of special editions makes it harder to keep track of what you’re buying; these include the Soho, Graphite, Bayswater and Baker Street. All the engines are fine, although the 1.4-litre petrol unit isn’t ideal for motorway cruising; we’d also stick with the six-speed manual gearbox over the auto. The First and One get steel wheels and the former does without air-con, so aim for at least a Cooper, which gets air-con and alloys.

Alternatives to the MINI Mk2

An equally chic rival to the MINI is the Fiat 500, which is fun to drive, great-looking, good value and comes in hatch or cabrio forms. But it’s no roomier than the Brit.

The Audi A1 comes with a five-door option and is a class act. As you’d expect, it’s costly, too, although there are some great engines and build quality is excellent.

A less obvious rival is the Alfa Romeo MiTo, which looks smart and is offered with some strong engines. The interior is classic Alfa, however, so it looks inviting even if the ergonomics are a bit suspect in places; it’s decent value as well. Don’t overlook the Citroen DS3, either. It’s spacious and fun to drive, plus it’s an attractive choice.

What to look for: 

Electrics

Electrical problems arise when the battery earthing strap fails. The electrics can be lost altogether, so make sure everything works.

Sound system

If you’re looking at a MINI with an upgraded sound system, check that the speakers work properly; they don’t always.

Flywheel

Diesel MINIs can suffer from failure of the dual-mass flywheel, and a replacement is expensive. Listen out for rattling.

Starter motor

Some cars have been suffering from weak starter motors, so make sure the one that’s fitted will spin the engine over happily.

Interior

The MINI’s cabin is distinctive, stylish and generally of a very high quality, and the front seats are comfy, too. But the rear seats are cramped and access to them is poor, plus the boot is tiny at just 160 litres. Even with the seats folded this jumps to just 680 litres, so practicality isn’t a strong point.

Running costs

All MINI Mk2s have variable servicing, allowing up to two years between checks. Cars built up to 2009 would generally go for 10,000 to 15,000 miles between services; from this point on, a more sophisticated system was introduced, allowing up to 20,000-mile intervals.

Fresh brake fluid is required every two years (at £50), while the air-con is checked every service; recharging it costs around £80. There’s no cambelt to replace.

Most MINIs come with the all-inclusive tlc servicing package, which lasts five years or 50,000 miles; this can be topped up by another three years or 30,000 miles for £275. Many dealerships offer discounts to keep costs low.

Recalls

The regular MINI Mk2 has been recalled just once, with cars built from July to October 2007 affected. The rear anti-roll bar was too large in diameter; this meant it could detach, leading to a loss of steering control.

Brake discs of too small a diameter were fitted to certain John Cooper Works models made in 2008, forcing another recall, and some Cooper S and John Cooper Works cars were also called back. This was because the circuit board for the turbo’s water pump could short circuit.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The last time a MINI Mk2 got into our Driver Power satisfaction survey was in 2011, when it finished a disappointing 55th. Owners told us poor ride quality let it down, as did a lack of practicality and comfort. However, they did like the MINI’s reliability, running costs, handling and ease of driving.

Verdict

The variety of MINIs on offer is bewildering; there are so many combinations of engine and trim level that it can be overwhelming. As a result, it can be hard to pin down what a MINI is worth, so don’t pay over the odds. Whatever you buy, make sure it comes with the balance of a five-year tlc servicing package, which will help you cut running costs. As a premium small car, you’ll pay for the privilege of buying a MINI. But if you consider the generally excellent dealers, a good reliability record, plus a fun driving experience along with great styling inside and out, there are plenty of reasons to opt for this baby BMW. 

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