From £14,6207
Based on the entry-level Mini One, the 1499 GT gains snazzy exterior decals and a sportier set-up. We find out how the limited-run special edition fares

Our Verdict

Mini Cooper S

Now in its third generation, we find out if the bigger, cleverer and more mature Mini can still entertain like it predecessors did

  • First Drive

    Mini Cooper S 2018 review

    Midlife facelift, an updated engine and high-end tech breathe new life into the best all-round hot hatch in the £20,000 bracket
  • First Drive

    Mini 1499 GT 2018 review

    Based on the entry-level Mini One, the 1499 GT gains snazzy exterior decals and a sportier set-up. We find out how the limited-run special edition fares
Simon Davis
9 February 2018

What is it?

To put the new Mini 1499 GT in context, a little history is needed. Back in 1969, if you wanted to get your hands on a Mini that had a just a little bit more in the way of poke and performance, you’d likely find yourself looking at the 1275 GT. Originally billed as a sporting model, this go-faster Mini was powered by a larger 1275cc engine (the older Cooper used a 998cc unit) that developed a modest 59bhp, and could crack 60mph from a standstill in 12.9 seconds.

By the standards of the time, that would have likely warranted a “phwoar” or two for sure. It may not have been as quick as the Cooper S, which was discontinued in the UK in 1971, but the 1275 GT was cheaper to buy, run and insure - so you can see why it would have appealed to the contemporary petrol head.

Fast-forward to 2018, and history seems to have repeated itself in the form of this: the new 1499 GT. It too is billed as a sporting model, but at £16,990 it’s more affordable than the current Cooper S, and with the 101bhp three-cylinder engine from the Mini One upon which it’s based at its nose, it’s also cheaper to run and insure - if not quite as quick. As with it’s ancestor, the “1499” badging reveals the displacement of its engine, but as this is a limited-run, special edition model it also signifies how many examples will roll off the firm’s Oxford production line.

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Don’t think of this as your regular Mini One with some fancy “1499 GT” gold decals down its flanks, though. Oh no. There’s much more besides. This Mini has been treated to blacked-out 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, tinted windows and white indicator caps. There’s plenty of John Cooper Works goodness too, including a bodykit, sports seats, steering wheel and badging throughout. Credit where credit’s due, Mini knows how to make a good-looking compact hatch.

What's it like?

On a country B-road, you’ll find plenty to commend the 1499 GT on. That sports suspension really tightens things up through the bends, body roll is practically non-existent, and you get a good sense of how the car’s chassis is interacting with the road beneath you. The front end is eager to turn in - a byproduct of having a lighter three-cylinder engine under the bonnet and a quick steering rack - and the front tyres grip tenaciously, only washing out to understeer if you get a bit silly with your right foot mid-corner. Lift off the throttle and you’ll provoke short bouts of predictable, easy-to-manage oversteer, too. In short, it does the fun stuff very well.

Admittedly, the three-pot motor isn’t the most athletic power plant in the world, and will accelerate in a lethargic manner if you allow the revs to drop below about 3500rpm. This is a bit of a shortcoming when you’re out on the motorway, as in-gear overtakes can be a lengthy, drawn-out procedure. Working the six-speed manual gearbox is a sound remedy for this, though, although one that may grow tiresome in day-to-day driving.

The appeal of the firmed up suspension might also start to wane after time, too. On a fast, flowing B-road it’s great, but around town and out on the motorway you wouldn't call it comfortable. Imperfections in the road surface become far more pronounced and particularly bad stretches of Tarmac will likely leave you questioning its necessity, as well as that of the hard, but supportive, John Cooper Works sports seats. Were this a proper hot hatchback, that firmer everyday ride would be more acceptable, but given the fact that the 1499 GT is for all sakes and purposes a reworked entry-level Mini One, it’s lack of power serves to make an at times uncomfortable ride that much more pronounced.

From a practicality point of view, the 1499 GT offers a 211-litre boot, so it’s outdone by most rivals in the hugely competitive supermini segment, including the Ford Fiesta (292 litres) and our current class favourite, the Seat Ibiza (355 litres). The three-door layout does make accessing the rear a bit of a process - one which is made more difficult by the bulky John Cooper Works front seats - and when you finally do get settled, legroom is incredibly tight. Still, while a Fiesta or an Ibiza might offer more in terms of interior space and practicality, the Mini pips both of them for style and material quality.

Should I buy one?

Make no mistake, there’s a lot to like about the Mini 1499 GT. It looks great, handles well and with a claimed economy figure of 57.6mpg on the combined cycle, it won’t break the bank at the fuel pump. Being a limited-run model it’ll likely hold its value well, and its interior is far classier than what you’d find in a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo. If you’re prepared to live with its firm ride, then you’ll have little to complain about.

If, however, you want a supermini that’s fun to drive, attractive to look at, cheap to run and still comfortable over rough surfaces, then a Seat Ibiza or Fiesta ST-Line make for compelling, if not quite as exclusive, alternatives.

Mini 1499 GT

Where Surrey On sale Now Price £16,990 Engine 3cyls, 1499cc, petrol, turbo Power 101bhp at 3900rpm Torque 140lb ft at 1350rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1190kg Top speed 121mph 0-62mph 10.1sec Fuel economy 57.6mpg CO2 114g/km, 21% Rivals Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza

Join the debate

Comments
11

9 February 2018

I'll happily take the new VW Up GTI for almost 3k less than this overweight snail.

Daz

9 February 2018

I read at the top of this item "From £14,620" and thought that made the underwhelming stats of this Mini almost acceptable, considering a VW Up GTi costs just under £14k in 3-door form (but that car is a bit faster).

Then read on to see this model actually costs just under 17 grand!

Not sure why anyone would buy this for that kind of money, especially when you can get a much faster Cooper (albeit sparsely equipped) for less.

I'm still waiting impatiently for the UK release of the Suzuki Swift Sport though - hurry up Suzuki before my mother-in-law's relentless nagging results in me spending that money on home "improvements" instead!!!

 

Everyone has a right to an opinion - don't confuse that with insulting your mother :-)

9 February 2018

How did they manage to restrict such a potential 1.5 turbo engine to 101bhp??? Companies like Superchips will be busy in a few years time!

Suzuki Swift Sport will eat this up for breakfast

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

10 February 2018
xxxx wrote:

How did they manage to restrict such a potential 1.5 turbo engine to 101bhp??? Companies like Superchips will be busy in a few years time!

Suzuki Swift Sport will eat this up for breakfast

Because its based on the MINI One, which as a lower powered version of the Cooper engine. For me, this a bit of an odd edition: No-one in their right mind would specify sports suspension on a MINI (its only standard on the JCW, even then you can delete it), and youre stuck with those awful tinted windows. At least it has the essential sports front seats which the Up Gti amazingly lacks, but its just too expensive compared to a regular Cooper.

FMS

11 February 2018

Go away, boring, unemployed in mind, body and spirit bore.

9 February 2018
Autocar wrote:

..From a practicality point of view, the 1499 GT offers a 211-litre boot, so it’s outdone by most rivals in the hugely competitive supermini segmentincluding the Ford Fiesta (292 litres) and our current class favourite, the Seat Ibiza (355 litres). The three-door layout does make accessing the rear a bit of a process - one which is made more difficult by the bulky John Cooper Works front seats - and when you finally do get settled, legroom is incredibly tight. Still, while a Fiesta or an Ibiza might offer more in terms of interior space and practicality, the Mini pips both of them for style and material quality...

If you are going to point out the negative side of the relative lack of room in the Mini, compared to the likes of Fiesta and Ibiza, surely it's fair to also point out the positives, which include beng easier to park and manouver in tights spaces, city streets etc, owing to the fact that the Mini is physically smaller than the rivals mentioned.

9 February 2018
I found free askLocation cell phone offline locator app which can track location of your hidden cell phone in the car even if car is in underground garage. GPS track device can be found easily but this app uses GSM service for location data, very good...and not battery draining...

11 February 2018

When can this be purchased? I really need it

12 February 2018

Nice looking car, though the original 1275GT had a contemporary Cortina style grille, could they have fitted Mondeo lights to this as the grille is already similar? :)

13 February 2018

The 1275GT may not have been a ball of fire, by the standards of its own day, let alone now, but it wouldn't have been left for dead by the contemporary equivalent of a Civic diesel. It would have made far more sense to pair the engine of the Cooper S with base model trim and equipment for a similar price to this car.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

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