The third-generation 'new' Mini is perhaps the most important yet. It shows a Mini/BMW future using a common platform, which has been used in the BMW X1, Mini Clubman and the Mini Countryman to name a few. There is also a new range of three-cylinder engines and for the first time the little hatch has blossomed a five-door shape.
Certainly, from the snug confines of the optional sport seats, it is hard to argue that the new five-door hatch is anything but a huge step forward. From behind its classy multi-function steering wheel - itself part of a significant rethink of the interior - the driving experience is welcomingly familiar.
But there is also a newfound maturity and sense of quality that makes the car even more pleasant to be in and a good deal more rewarding to drive.
Powering the Mini 5dr hatch
The turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol unit is one of four all-new, in-house-developed forced-induction three and four-cylinder engines for the new Mini. It is an absolute belter, serving up the sort of performance and user-friendliness its relatively conservative power output fails to convey on paper.
As fitted here, it produces 134bhp at 4500rpm and 162lb ft at just 1250rpm. The range also includes two other petrols including a 101bhp 1.2-litre engine found in the Mini One, and a 189bhp 2.0-litre engine in the Cooper S. As for the diesel line-up there are two variants of the 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit used in the One D and Cooper D, while topping the range is 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine found in the Cooper SD.
The new three-pot in the Cooper is a little vocal at start-up, with a deep thrum from the engine and a distant pulsing of the exhaust as you thumb the starter, now among the toggle switches mounted low down on the centre console. However, these qualities are quickly replaced by a more satisfying cacophony as you tip in the revs.
It is a terrifically responsive engine, offering lively pull from little more than 1000rpm all the way to its 6400rpm cut-out. There is a fleeting moment of lag just above idle, but the flexibility and vivacity that follows makes the peaky nature of the four-cylinder engine it replaces seem incredibly old fashioned. The new engine is also delightfully entertaining and boasts a quite extraordinary operating range, giving the Cooper solid acceleration allied to a wonderfully relaxed nature when pulling taller gears.