It may be the entry-level option in the new Mini range, but the latest One feels anything but cheap

What is it?

The least expensive way into ownership of BMW’s third-generation Mini three-door hatch.

The Mini One gets a new three-cylinder 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine, which replaces the old 1.6-litre naturally aspirated unit found in the previous-generation Mini hatch.

The engine is essentially a reduced capacity version of the new 1.5-litre turbo triple found in the Cooper hatch, retaining features such as direct injection and stop-start.

What's it like?

The One might be the entry-level Mini, but in its own way it feels just as special as the Cooper and Cooper S models higher up the range.

There’s no skimping on the quality of the materials in the cabin, and you’re not left with myriad gaps and fake buttons on the centre console. The story is the same for the exterior style; it doesn't look like a poverty spec car.

The engine is a belter. It sounds good, has strong in-gear acceleration, and feels quicker off the line than the 0-62mph time of 9.9sec suggests. It’s mated to a sweet six-speed manual gearbox, which is slick shifting and pleasurable to use both in town and when attacking your favourite B-road.

Economy falls short of the claimed 61.4mpg combined; we achieved just above 45mpg on our test route. With our experiences of a Cooper with more miles on the clock, we’d expect 50mpg to be achievable when the engine is properly run in.

All good so far, then, and there’s more good news on the dynamics front. Our test car was not fitted with the optional adaptive dampers the new Minis we’ve tested have typically come specced with, but it still had a nice ride. Firm, but never uncomfortable.

As with other Minis, we’re finding the Michelin Energy Saver tyres to be quite noisy, something we’ve experienced on 16-inch alloys on a Cooper and now 15-inch alloys on this One. 

The handling is also a joy; the front end is very pointy and the car feels light, agile and alive when changing direction, helped by tactile and well-weighted steering.

This was true of the previous generation Mini also, but where this new one scores extra points in its ability to be more civilised in everyday situations. It doesn’t feel as ‘on it’ when you’re popping to the shops, which is welcome and far less tiring than previous Minis.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. This new Mini is proving to be a fine car in any flavour you choose, and this One feels more akin to a Cooper Light rather than a way to merely buy into the badge and the brand.

Mini One

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

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

Add a comment…
Citytiger 10 September 2014

The spec of this "one" was

The spec of this "one" was probably over £15k so not exactly the runt of the litter..
erly5 10 September 2014

Mini/Maxi blah blah blah...

It's a small car competing against other super'minis' so I have no problem with it being called MINI. I don't see why people get so hung up on the name. I love the retro designs at the moment like the new Beetle and Fiat 500 and feel the current 'carscape' would be a lot duller without them. So what if they are bigger and safer than their predecessors!
Flatus senex 10 September 2014

"Feels anything but cheap"

Just as well really for it is indeed anything but cheap. However the example parked outside my house recently had cheap looking alloys which seem to go with the brand nowadays and would shame a motor accessories shop!