The Mini range has grown and is now available from just £1500 for a decent example
13 October 2015

Whether it's the brand heritage, the quirky styling or small size, there's no denying that the UK loves Minis - and the best bargains can be found for as little as £1500. Here are our top five.

1 - Mini Convertible (2004-2008)

Mini’s first effort at chopping the roof off was a success: the Convertible is well made and a rather imaginative affair.

It remains a cool car to own and is cheap to run, albeit not as much fun to drive as the hatch. It may not have much room for a weekly shop and the rear seats are near useless, but it’s a stylish way to get a tan.

Reliability is reasonable, although the roof cables can break in early models and cost £800-£900 to replace. The Convertible can also 
be prone to the same power steering and gearbox issues as 
the hatchback.

We found a 2006 Cooper S example with 61,000 miles on the clock at £4750 from a private seller.

2 - Mini Clubman (2007-2015)

If there was ever a car to split opinion, it is the Clubman, a five-door estate car featuring three unconventional doors.

It has a stretched wheelbase and the same spec and engine options as the hatch. The ‘Clubdoor’ behind the driver is an interesting talking point, but you have to push the front seat forward to allow reasonable access to the back. Also, the door is on the ‘wrong’ side for UK cars, opening into the traffic, not the kerb.

Still, the two ‘barn doors’ at the rear make the boot very easy to load and unload. You get more space than in most Mini models. There are no well-known reliability issues with this model, either.

Prices for a 2007 Cooper with 62,000 miles start from £5300.

3 - Mini hatchback (2001-2006)

With its quirky retro styling, the 
first BMW-owned Mini transformed 
the supermini sector when it was launched in 2001.

Mini’s new owner proved that a supermini with good packaging, great looks and a premium finish could take the sector by storm.

The first-generation Mini has quick and economical engines and a handling set-up that makes the car feel alive. So it is a lot of fun to drive.

The main known reliability issues relate to power steering and manual gearbox failures.

A piece of your own retro style can be had from just £1500 for a Mini One with around 70,000 miles on the clock.

4 - Mini Countryman (2010-present)

The belief that Mini produced only small cars was extinguished once and for all by the launch of the Countryman crossover in 2010. Remarkably, though, the Countryman isn’t too hard to live with, drive around town and park.

Like most Minis, it majors on style over practicality and is not the most spacious car in its sector, although it does cater well for a growing family making the step up from the hatchback.

It handles well, but some variants have a hard ride. Petrol engines are smooth and sporty, although diesels suffer from a shortage of refinement.

Used prices tend to bear up well, but a Countryman Cooper diesel with 50,000 miles has now dipped under £10,000.

5 - Mini Coupé (2012-present)

Mini tends to take an evolutionary approach to the design of its new models, so standing out from the crowd can be difficult, but with its low, squat stance and the dome-shaped ‘floating’ roof, the Coupé is one of a kind.

Billed as Mini’s answer to the Peugeot RCZ and Volkswagen Scirocco, it can be fantastic fun on a smooth, country road. However, the ride is harsh on more rutted UK surfaces - particularly in the most sporty JCW derivatives - and it takes commitment to live with daily. Although the cabin is typical Mini in execution, the packaging is pure two-seater. 

The Cooper S is the sweet spot in this range. Its turbocharged four-pot peaks at 181bhp and 192lb ft, aiding a 0-62mph time of 6.9sec. A 28,000-mile Cooper S with Chili Pack can be had from £10,000.

Matthew Griffiths

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Our Verdict

Mini Cooper 5-door hatch

Third-generation Mini hatchback comes with a range of new engines, more equipment and a practical five-door shape, but is it stretching the Mini name too far?

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Comments
2

13 October 2015
Forgive me - I know there's no reason why cheap, high-milage cars can't be reliable - but surely it's a huge gamble? £1500 for a small car with 70,000 miles seems like a potential money pit in repairs and maintenance. I don't know how much it costs to service and maintain a Mini, but as it's a BMW I'm sure it can't be cheap.

13 October 2015
£1.5k for a well used Mini could be a good move if you go into it with your eyes open. Prices unlikely to dip much lower, loads of replacement parts available. But spending serious money on a Countryman? Absolutely not.

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