This is the Lifan 320, which its makers deny has borrowed anything from the styling of the Mini.

The Lifan has been on sale in China for more than a year, and is designed and built at Lifan's base at Chong Quing.

See the Lifan 320 in detail

It is 3745mm in length, 1620mm wide and 1430mm high; in contrast the Mini Cooper is 3635mm long, 1688mm wide and 1408mm in height.

Asked about the car's similarity to the Mini, a spokesman said: "Yes, we know of the similarities, but this is an independent design of our own work. I think that perhaps the management of Lifan and Mini shares some ideals that have drawn them to this very classical and fashionable shape."

It is powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine linked to a five-speed gearbox, but a 1.0-litre three cylinder unit will be available later this year, increasing the car's city appeal.

It has MacPherson strut suspension front and rear, and standard kit includes anti-lock brakes and two airbags.

Jim Holder