The modern incarnation of the Mini has had a lot of ‘firsts’ claimed for it by its BMW parent. The first four-wheel-drive Mini, the first four-door version, the first diesel.

And, now, Mini’s first two-seater (if you’re prepared to overlook the limited-run Mini GP special) and the first three-box body structure has arrived, too, in the shape of the Mini Coupé.

To us, it’s even more simple than that: the Mini Coupé is the first of the modern breed to look like a sports car. (A curiously shaped one, perhaps, but we will come to that in a moment.)

As manufacturers explore ever more diverse market sectors, this one – the ultra-compact two-seat coupé market – is, you might think, a particularly small niche. And you’d be right – Mini is expecting less than five per cent of its sales to be of this variant.

To make the numbers work, the similarities between the hatchback and the coupé are legion. What is common across both models is the naming conventions. Within the Coupe ranger, you'll find Cooper, Cooper S, JCW and Cooper SD.

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