What is it?
The third-generation Mini Cooper, driven in the UK for the first time.
We were very impressed by this grown-up, more upmarket Mini when we drove it earlier this year, and our first meeting on home soil demonstrates that the appeal of the Cooper hasn't dwindled.
This is a very stylish car, and although the steady growth in size of Mini models over the years won't please all, there's enough of the retro design still in place to suit most tastes.
The three-cylinder turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol variant driven here is one of three engines to feature in the Mini range at launch, the other two being a 94bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder diesel in the Cooper D and a larger 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol with 189bhp in the Cooper S variant.
Step inside the cabin of the Cooper and you'll be instantly familiar with much of its layout, though there's been a big effort to lift the overall fit and finish. Toggle switches feature low on the centre console, while the Mini's large central infotainment display also remains. The speedometer, fuel gauge and rev counter have now moved behind the steering wheel - a good choice in our opinion - while the multi-function wheel itself also sports a new design.
There's ample space inside the new Mini, but the back seats are best left for shorter passengers and short journeys. Up front and the Mini's seats are comfortable and supportive. Our Cooper test car came with standard equipment including a stop-start system, a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and USB audio plug-ins.
The standard model costs £15,300, but a substantial upgrade via Mini's Media and Chilli packs - which add luxuries like satellite navigation, a sports steering wheel and sports seats - plus the fitting of 17-inch alloy wheels to replace the normal 15-inch items meant the cost of our test car leapt to £24,210.
The good news is that for the extra money this Mini felt reassuringly premium inside. There are plenty of soft-touch furnishings at work and some of the infotainment services, for example the string of LED lights around the cabin – which change colour and function depending on how you drive - give the Mini a really distinct and individual feel.