This is the best driver’s car that Mini has come up with during its current heartland-model generation.

It has the outright performance to hold its head high next to its hot supermini rivals, but also a more delicate, better-balanced and more engaging chassis than its bigger brother, the John Cooper Works.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
After so many attempts, Mini unearths its hot hatch sweet spot

It’s a more rounded road car than the JCW, too, and better value. And while its engine feels potent and free-revving, it wants for nothing on audible charm, thanks to that switchable active exhaust.

Like so many modern BMW Group cars, this one is available in myriad combinations of suspension, wheel and tyre specification, but the car’s chassis works very well indeed if you keep your order simple.

This is a car with the busy, tigerish, feisty temperament that you expect from a hot Mini but no more or less grip or body control than it really needs, and handling that becomes more playfully engaging the closer you examine it.

Simply put, it seems to derive all the dynamic benefits of its diminutive size that you hope it might, without being penalised harshly in many of the ways you fear it would.

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