When the new Mini arrived in 2001, there were a few mutterings from certain quarters, notably diehard Mini enthusiasts. They bemoaned the betrayal of the original’s true values, wondering where the innovation, the genre-busting packaging, the dedication to supplying economical, efficient transportation to the masses had gone.

However, Mini parent BMW was savvy and pitched the new Mini into a market of the noughties that placed great value on style, brand prestige and fun – a recipe that the reborn car brewed together with genuine panache. Its replacement aims to fix the faults and quirks while keeping the winning formula very much intact.

Mirroring BMW’s expansion of the Mini into as many different bodystyles as it can think of, the staple Mini hatchback range is now wider than ever, spanning the entry-level, back-to-basics First to the range-topping John Cooper Works model. In between, you’ll find One, Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper SD models. There’s even an all-electric version, the Mini E, on trial.

There were only subtle styling changes to the second-generation BMW Mini but, inside and under the skin, things were much improved. Many asked that if the Mk2 Mini had become more grown-up more than ever, how much – if any – of the charm of the original remained?

Top 5 Superminis

  • Ford Fiesta
    Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

    Ford Fiesta

  • Mini Cooper
    Its various improvements make the new Mini more desirable and practical than ever before

    Mini Cooper

  • The Mazda 2 name dates back to 2002. This latest version showcases the firm's Skyactiv technology and 'Kodo' styling

    Mazda 2

  • Skoda Fabia

  • Renault Clio
    Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

    Renault Clio


First drives


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 November 2015
    We try the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol version of the Golf Bluemotion. If you're not doing mega miles, it's a better bet than the diesel
  • 2015 Mercedes-AMG A45
    First Drive
    27 November 2015
    Mercedes couldn't let the Audi RS3 get away with having more power than its AMG A45. As part of a wholesale A-Class facelift, it now has 376bhp and a host of other revisions
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?