Entry-level Mini One gets a 1.2 three-cylinder engine and a welcome torque boost, but you might want to upgrade the standard wheels

What is it?

This is the Mini One, the entry-level petrol version of the new, third-generation Mini. It features a brand new three-cylinder engine, a 1.2-litre turbocharged unit, that’s essentially a reduced cubic capacity version of the 1.5-litre engine used in the new Mini Cooper.

It still gets direct injection and double-VANOS, as well as a stop-start system, but power drops from 134bhp to 101bhp and price goes down from the Mini Cooper's £15,300 to the One’s £13,750.

As with all the other new Minis, the One is made on the same new BMW front-wheel-drive platform that will be used in other future models both from Mini and BMW.

The new model replaces the old Mini One, which had a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder, with 97bhp but only 113lb ft of torque, compared with the new model’s 133lb ft, this is a real boost to in-gear acceleration.

What's it like?

The first thing that catches the eye are the standard 15in rims, with skinny 175/65 R15 low rolling resistance tyres. They make the car look as if it is using four emergency replacement wheels: a bit of a car stylist’s nightmare, really.

Open the door and the One doesn’t look cheap at all, however. All materials used in the cockpit are as good as the ones found in the more expensive Cooper and Cooper S variants and there is no shortage of switches in the centre console or trademark toggle switches.

The car we drove had some optional extras fitted, including a sports leather steering wheel with cruise control and Mini Driving Modes. This allows the driver to choose from Green, Mid or Sport modes. Each modifies accelerator response, steering effort and engine acoustics and, unlike similar systems in other cars, here you can actually feel the difference.

Choose Green and the circular centre console flashes a green arc and the engine gets notoriously less responsive, but never to the point of feeling sluggish. In the instrument cluster, fitted to the steering wheel column, appears a scale indicating how many range 'bonus' miles the driver won by driving in a economy-friendly way.

Change to Sport and the three-cylinder engine comes alive, without ever sounding like a typical three-pot. The engine note is surprisingly pleasant, with a roaring sporty sound. 

Press the accelerator and the One feels more rapid than the 0-62mph figure of 9.9sec might suggest. The torque curve starts to rise from very low revs and delivers a convincingly swift response across a wide range of engine speed. 

The gear change is a true joy for the keen driver. This new six-speed manual performs great automatic rev matching on downshifts, which the driver can override if they apply some well-judged heel and toeing. Fifth- and sixth-gear ratios are a little long, to save fuel when driving on the motorway, where wind noise is not as low as it could be.

And we come back to those skinny tyres. True, city driving is not affected by them and motorway fuel consumption actually benefits. But turn onto a B-road to exploit that famous go-kart-like Mini handling and soon the tyres start to come up short in terms of road holding and precision. Tyre degradation even becomes an issue, when the tyres start to bend, under heavy cornering. 

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One thing is true, if you get your driving back to eight-tenths the balance between available power and grip highlights the new Mini’s excellent dynamics, which are better savoured with the stability control off. 

Sliding the front or the rear (or both) is just a question of how much lock you apply to the steering wheel and how deeply you nail the accelerator or how quickly you release it. 

This is not exactly akin to Cristiano Ronaldo playing in high heels but it seems a good idea to order your Mini One with upgraded tyres: you would lose something in fuel economy but not much in comfort, because the ride on the standard tyres is not that supple anyway.

Should I buy one?

If you really need to save the £1550 that separate Mini Cooper from Mini One, the answer is yes and you won’t be disappointed by the torquey 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine. Just spend whatever money you can get on a bigger set of wheels. 

If you have some financial slack, go for the Cooper version. It gives access to another level of performance and the claimed fuel economy is actually slightly better.

Mini One 1.2

Price £13,750; 0-62 mph 9.9sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 61.4mpg (combined); CO2 108g/km; Kerb weight 1090kg; Engine 1198cc, in-line three-cylinder, turbo; Installation front, transverse Power 101bhp at 4250rpm Torque 133lb ft at 1400rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Add a comment…
owenmahamilton 25 July 2014

The car in the photos

Is not a Mini One, I know this for at least two reasons, it has a USA number plate and you cannot buy a Mini One in the USA, reason number two is that you can only specify a body coloured roof on the One.
superstevie 28 May 2014

That's absolutely fine Mr

That's absolutely fine Mr Burt, go and read Autocar's sister magazine, Whatcar?, as that will have more articles that you are looking for. It will be extremely difficult to test a Mini that is base spec and nothing added, as most have an option of 10 ticked when new.
Mr Burt 28 May 2014

Oh dear!!!

If autocar is going to test a car that's not a 40k plus harsh riding 6 cylinder everything, then they could at least apply some basic common sense and market direction to their review.
I was just interested in reading a review of the basic 3 cylinder engine.
Most people who buy this car will end up paying more than they would like because of the extras situation that BMW almost force on their customers. Sad but true.
I'm off to Pistonheads.
Overdrive 28 May 2014

Mr Burt wrote: Most people

Mr Burt wrote:

Most people who buy this car will end up paying more than they would like because of the extras situation that BMW almost force on their customers. Sad but true....

Could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure BMW don't "force" anyone to buy extras, almost or otherwise. But it is true that most people who buy this car end up paying more than "they would like", as most people would like to pay as little as possible (if not nothing) for a car, any car, not just Mini.

Daniel Joseph 28 May 2014

Not necessarily so...

Mr Burt wrote:

Most people who buy this car will end up paying more than they would like because of the extras situation that BMW almost force on their customers. Sad but true.

Well, when visited our local MINI dealer to order our new F56, the sales executive spent well over an hour taking us through the options, but applied no undue pressure to specify anything we didn't want or need. We found the experience unexpectedly pleasant and relaxed, and ended up with exactly the car we wanted. I've no idea how typical or otherwise our experience was, but thought I might put the case for the defence... However, I do agree that Autocar should push for test cars closer to standard spec... the MINI One pictured has so many extras that I'm sure it would cost significantly more than our Cooper.

Mr Burt 28 May 2014

Know your audience

Heel and toeing, B road on the limit handling and precision.
This car will be brought by people who want style and economy, not racing drivers.
Over specced cars for the press release that do not reflect the base car or represent the car the above group of people will buy.
I took time to read this review just to get an understanding of the base model and kill 10 minutes. Now I am just annoyed.
Articles like this are the reason I stopped buying autocar some time ago.
If it's not the latest top line German car with 500bhp it's 'reviews' like this that are irrelevant to the potential customer. I'm out!!!