Budget Mini shares many attributes of its more expensive brethren

What is it?

With the current emphasis on cheap cars right across Europe, it makes plenty of sense for BMW to launch a lower-cost Mini, the First, which in effect takes the price back to where it was when the Mini One first hit the market eight years ago.

If you’re happy with steel wheels and a low-output version of the British-made 1.4-litre petrol engine, you need pay only £10,950 for the new model.

What’s it like?

When you drive the First, its lack of power is immediately obvious in the leisurely acceleration (0-62mph in 13.2sec).

However, there’s still enough torque to propel the car at decent cruising speeds in its tall sixth gear, and for drivers who care more about economy than performance it is quick enough, if you use the gears.

It steers and handles neatly, just like the rest of the Mini family. You also get all the other Mini advantages, including a typical BMW feeling of solidity and quality.

The major surprise is what you don’t have to do without; the First comes with a stop-start system, a six-speed gearbox, chassis stability control and a shift light which helps you get close to the impressive 53.3mpg combined fuel consumption figure quoted for the car.

The First scores on other economy fronts, too. In exchange for just £185, you can cover service and maintenance for the next five years.

And, just like all other Minis, you can dress it up with various option packs (Design, Tech and Salt) but none of them enhance the car’s economy, which is its point.

Should I buy one?

The Mini First takes BMW’s baby right back into the top-value £10k arena, where the Mini One started life in 2001.

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
superstevie 21 April 2010

Re: Mini First

I know this is an old thread, but currently have one as a courtesy car while my cooper gets some work done on it under warranty. You know, its not a bad little car. Ok, not as much poke as the cooper, but more than willing to rev, and you feel like you are getting more out of it. Basic spec aside, I like it a lot. And when you take finance into account, as most buyers of small new cars will, on PCP it works out fairly cheap with minimal deposit compared to other small (admittadly better specced) cars. Just my 2 pence worth

AwakeSpectator 14 August 2009

Re: Mini First

That such a small car should cost as much as this particular one does to begin with is nothing less than amazing. That a few extra bits, alloys and the like, can make the cost stand head and shoulders above the rest in itself should be considered an achievement.

That said, not only is the car in a desperate need of a redesign, who so ever came up with the idea of centrally mounted console deserves a spanking to begin with. One thing which has the potential to ruin an interior entirely on its own happens to be a huge centrally mounted speedometer with the tiny bits.

Monk 8 August 2009

Re: Mini First

A trip to Superchips and a few quid should sort this out, then it would be a bargain.