Budget Mini shares many attributes of its more expensive brethren

What is it?

With the current emphasis on cheap cars right across Europe, it makes plenty of sense for BMW to launch a lower-cost Mini, the First, which in effect takes the price back to where it was when the Mini One first hit the market eight years ago.

If you’re happy with steel wheels and a low-output version of the British-made 1.4-litre petrol engine, you need pay only £10,950 for the new model.

What’s it like?

When you drive the First, its lack of power is immediately obvious in the leisurely acceleration (0-62mph in 13.2sec).

However, there’s still enough torque to propel the car at decent cruising speeds in its tall sixth gear, and for drivers who care more about economy than performance it is quick enough, if you use the gears.

It steers and handles neatly, just like the rest of the Mini family. You also get all the other Mini advantages, including a typical BMW feeling of solidity and quality.

The major surprise is what you don’t have to do without; the First comes with a stop-start system, a six-speed gearbox, chassis stability control and a shift light which helps you get close to the impressive 53.3mpg combined fuel consumption figure quoted for the car.

The First scores on other economy fronts, too. In exchange for just £185, you can cover service and maintenance for the next five years.

And, just like all other Minis, you can dress it up with various option packs (Design, Tech and Salt) but none of them enhance the car’s economy, which is its point.

Should I buy one?

The Mini First takes BMW’s baby right back into the top-value £10k arena, where the Mini One started life in 2001.

Steve Cropley

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Comments
22

6 August 2009

Another BMW marketing workout in cynicsm. Instead of setting yourself for 'oh look, I couldn't really afford to buy alloys on my Mini' just get a decently specced Fiat 500 and be done with it.

6 August 2009

A small note, this car comes with hub-caps, which makes it marginally better than the more expensive ONE which comes with plain old steel wheels standard fit.

6 August 2009

Keep it simple with no extra`s (stripes and union jacks esp!) and a Mini First in a non metallic colour is the most attractive model in the whole range. I like it.

6 August 2009

[quote manicm]just get a decently specced Fiat 500 and be done with it.[/quote]

A decently specced 500? How about the chic Grande Punto Sporting with 120bhp Turbo. Goes like the absolute clappers and has loads more space, not to mention being fully equipped.

Plus, the Mini is no longer a style icon, far too common and obvious.

Competance executes, character inspires

6 August 2009

Oh, and it is not 10 grand, its 11 before you put anything in it, so cheap/good value it aint.

Competance executes, character inspires

6 August 2009

Fair play for making a cheaper version, but it REALLY irritates me when manufacturers re-tune engines for cheaper cars. It's just a software tune, and it probably cost BMW more to develop this new tune, with associated stability control mods etc, rather than just leave it as it is, as and give the buyer the full use of the engine that they've actually paid for. I'm not sure what the economy figures are for this compared to the normal 1.4, but often the economy figures are identical, as the engine is just capped at a certain bhp, meaning there's no economy benefit either.

6 August 2009

[quote Autocar]it makes plenty of sense for BMW to launch a lower-cost Min[/quote]

That's what a MINI was always supposed to be about anyway: lower cost.

Proof, if it were needed, that BMW have lost it's way with the brand?

6 August 2009

[quote Squonk61]Proof, if it were needed, that BMW have lost it's way with the brand? [/quote]

No they have not they are just reacting to market conditions. For the past few years everybody felt rich so they bought ever more expensive versions of various models.

Now the economy is in recession buyers want cheaper versions, common sense really.

With talk of a new BMW sub brand, electric mini`s and the re-invention of the 3 series as an eco-warrior i think BMW know what they are doing.

And before the avalanche of accusations that i love german cars begins i dont drive a BMW or a Mini.

6 August 2009

I'm not sure how you can compare a Mini to a Fiat 500 - the depth of engineering and quality in the Mini is on another level to that offered by the 500. As a consequence, the Mini feels like a quality product and drives like a quality product - the 500 doesn't and the price differential reflects that, it's as simple as that really.

Those wheel trims are vile though - where as I quite like the look of the Mini One on bare steelies

6 August 2009

[quote Chips]I'm not sure how you can compare a Mini to a Fiat 500 - the depth of engineering and quality in the Mini is on another level to that offered by the 500. As a consequence, the Mini feels like a quality product and drives like a quality product - the 500 doesn't and the price differential reflects that, it's as simple as that really.[/quote]

Very true, but how many average customers really care at this price point? I may care and so may you, but enthusiasts make up such a small sector of the market now for this sort of car.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

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