The lazy charge that all new cars are the same these days could never be levelled at the current Mini under the spotlight here or, indeed, any Mini before it. Despite being bigger, safer and better equipped than ever before, it retains its forebears’ cheeky charm.
It was launched in 2014 in three and, for the first time, five-door bodystyles. The latter was made possible by the new car’s longer body, designed to boost space in the rear cabin and the boot. It was a success, there now being room for a couple of six-footers to make themselves reasonably comfortable. If you want to make the 211-litre boot a little bigger, the back seats split and fold. Up front, the five-door is much like the three-door, with ample room for driver and passenger to find their ideal position.
The new car was launched with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, although fast-forward to 2019 and only the petrols survive. Back in 2014, we were less squeamish, with the entry-level One being available with a 1.2 petrol or 1.5 diesel motor, the warmish Cooper with a 1.5 petrol or diesel and the properly warm Cooper S with an unfeasibly large 2.0-litre petrol or diesel. The range-topping John Cooper Works (three-door only) got a more powerful version of the 2.0-litre petrol.
A used Cooper isn’t much more expensive than a One, and the better buy, but a Cooper S is a lot more fun and good value. Meanwhile, the John Cooper Works is not quite as on point as its high price would have you think. There are cheaper and more rounded but no less incisive rivals out there. High-mileage One Ds dominate the cheaper end of the classifieds. They’re economical but, if you’re a townie, the petrols are the way to go.
The biggest adventure most buyers of a new Mini ever had is navigating their way through the options list. Low on food and water, most wave the white flag and shout for the Chili pack. In 2016, this gained LED headlights, while two more, called Tech Pack (it has a head-up display) and Yours Pack (styling tweaks), joined the range. These and the other option packs can add visual and functional appeal but remember that, like most options, they depreciate faster than the Mini they’re fitted to.