Still expensive and not exactly rapid, but the bargain of the range. Huge improvements inside over the old model, too

What is it?

Cheaper normally aspirated version of the new Mini gets an all-new 1.6-litre engine as well as all the improvements in refinement and quality already seen in the new Cooper S.

What's it like?

The new engine is much smoother than that of the old Cooper and way better on economy and emissions, but power and torque are only marginally improved.

As before, the Cooper is no fireball – the engine needs to be revved hard and the slick new six-speed gearbox stirred frequently – but its feisty character makes up for any shortcomings in outright pace.

Even on the optional sports suspension the ride is far more compliant than before, yet the new electric steering has the Mini diving for apexes as eagerly as ever. The cabin is a huge improvement as well, with much improved materials, greater comfort and an even bigger array of colour and trim options.

The brilliant achievement is that they’ve managed to make the Mini much more comfortable and liveable than the old one while retaining all of the essential character.

Should I buy one?

Fifty per cent of old Mini sales were Coopers, so clearly you don’t need much encouragement. At £12,995 the new Cooper isn’t cheap, but it’s still the bargain of the range, provided you don’t need the Cooper S’s considerable extra performance. Impossible not to love.

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