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

    1
  • Mini Cooper
    Its various improvements make the new Mini more desirable and practical than ever before

    Mini Cooper

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

    Mazda 2

    3
  • Volkswagen Polo
    The Polo is a polished, mature-feeling, spacious supermini

    Volkswagen Polo

    4
  • Renault Clio
    Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

    Renault Clio

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon 1.4 EcoTSI FR Titanium
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    High-spec new Titanium FR trim is temptingly good value, particularly on the semi-enthusiastic 1.4 EcoTSI petrol
  • Kia Niro
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Kia Niro will be one of the greenest cars in the compact crossover class when it goes on sale later this year. We drive it to see what else it has to offer
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    Can the turbocharged successor to the 458 raise the bar again?
  • Car review
    27 May 2016
    The big-in-every-way Bentley SUV lands. We assess the impact
  • Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line
    First Drive
    27 May 2016
    The Volkswagen Touran R-Line offers a sporty twist on the ever-sensible MPV formula. We’ve sampled the punchy 2.0-litre diesel