The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.3
The MINI One is more desirable than most small premium cars, with its cheeky looks, great build and engaging dynamics. But don’t buy one if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Reasons to buy
- Strong image
- Great build quality
- Will hold its value well
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
Few cars are as instantly recognisable as the MINI. Even those who aren’t even remotely interested in cars can tell when they’re looking at BMW’s smallest car. The circular headlights, small upturned grille and ‘floating’ roof are all distinctive. However, it’s the car’s overall proportions, rather than its details, which make it so recognisable. The minimal overhangs, upright back and short wheelbase are MINI trademarks – and it looks all the better for having them.
What's the interior like?
This is one of those areas that you either love or hate. There are lots of visual references to the original MINI, and some of them look a little contrived. As a result, the dash design looks a bit messy, although you couldn’t accuse it of being boring. The dash is dominated by a large central speedometer, while a second dial in front of the driver gives information on revs, fuel and other functions. The centre console features unashamedly retro toggle switches, but some of the materials used don’t feel like they belong in a premium car. Even a relatively cheap one like the MINI One.
How practical is it?
There’s something of a black mark here, because the MINI One comes with three doors only and not a lot of carrying capacity. Accessibility to the rear seats, is awkward for strapping children in. The boot isn’t up to much either. Leave the back seats in place and there’s just 160 litres of space available – that’s less than a Mercedes SLK with the roof down. Tip the MINI’s seats forward and the available space extends to just 680 litres. Buy an Audi A1 instead and you’d have up to 920 litres at your disposal. There’s room for two adults in the back seat, but not for tall ones for any length of time. The rear seats are split 50/50.
What's it like to drive?
Just like the original, the MINI’s handling is a real high point. The steering is perfectly weighted and accurate, so this is a great car to drive with enthusiasm on a twisting road. However, even around town the MINI One is fun to drive, and the car’s relatively small size means it’s agile. What isn’t so good is the ride. The car’s short wheelbase, stiff suspension and run-flat tyres conspire to produce a ride that’s rather less than cossetting. It’s not usually firm enough to be uncomfortable, but if your driving is largely in urban areas, on poor surfaces, you might want to take a thorough test drive before buying.
How powerful is it?
Buy a MINI One and there’s a choice of two 1.6-litre engines. One is a 97bhp petrol unit that generates 113lb/ft of pulling power, while the other is an 89bhp diesel unit that pushes out 159lb/ft. Take the petrol route and you’ll have a 116mph top speed along with 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds. Go diesel and you’ll be able to get to 62mph in 11.4 seconds before hitting a 115mph top speed. Both engines have to be worked fairly hard to get the best out of them, but both are reasonably refined so you never feel as though they’re uncomfortable when revved.
How much will it cost me?
This is where you’re onto a winner, because not only is the MINI One Hatch clean and efficient, but it also holds onto its value better than pretty much anything else in the segment. The petrol engine can officially average 52.3mpg while emitting 127g/km of CO2. Buy the diesel version instead though, and CO2 emissions fall to just 99g/km, which is low enough to make the car exempt from the London Congestion Charge while also reducing the road tax cost to zero. Just as impressively, the diesel MINI One’s average fuel consumption is pegged at 74.3mpg, although real-world economy isn’t likely to be much over 65mpg despite the inclusion of stop and start.
How reliable is it?
As a baby BMW, the MINI enjoys a very high level of reliability, with the car being well-built and dependable too. One or two glitches have cropped up in this second-generation edition of the car, such as temperamental starter motors and speakers. The paintwork can mark easily too while the windscreen, which features thinner glass than is usual, can crack all too readily.
How safe is it?
BMW wouldn’t let a car into its showrooms that didn’t carry a five-star EuroNCAP rating, so it’s no wonder that the MINI is among the safest superminis on the road. The MINI isn’t just safe because of its structure though, as it also features a raft of equipment to help prevent a crash in the first place. Standard equipment includes electronic stability programme, anti-lock brakes, traction control, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. Six airbags and a pair of Isofix mountings for the rear seats are also included.
How much equipment do I get?
The One sits towards the bottom of MINI’s range, with only the First being cheaper. As a result, the One doesn’t come crammed with kit. Standard equipment includes a CD/tuner with auxiliary input, electric windows, remote central locking plus all those things you’d expect on a modern car such as a heated rear window and a variety of cup holders around the cabin. If you want to spend more, you can specify xenon lights, privacy glass, heated front seats, sunroof, metallic paint, alloy wheels or leather trim. There are option packs offered too, namely Salt and Pepper. The former brings passenger seat height adjustment and higher grade interior trim while the latter adds all the Salt touches plus alloy wheels, front fog lights, and extra exterior detailing.
Despite its ubiquity, the MINI One is still stylish, good to drive and holds its value better than most rivals.