What is it?
The absolute cheapest way to get behind the wheel of a new Mini. This is the entry-level One, powered by a 95bhp 1.4-litre engine.
Without any of the extremely extensive options boxes ticked, this is the plain-jane of the range. In unadorned showroom spec, it rolls on 15in steel wheels and doesn¹t even have front fog lights to enliven the styling.
BMW says that just 35 percent of One owners are male. Likewise, just 30 percent of Cooper S owners are female. The One is likely to appeal predominately to women drivers willing to pay extra (and to put up with less space) to upgrade from a Corsa, Fiesta or Polo.
What's it like?
Under the more prominent bonnet is a new, and quite sophisticated 1.4-litre engine and although the all-important air-con is absent, it does get six airbags (including side and curtain airbags), corner braking control, 'tyre defect indicators', a six-speed manual gearbox, a rev counter, a single CD player and, like all Minis, a slot-in key and stop/start button.
If you don¹t fancy the standard-issue 15in steel wheels, you'll have to stump up £460 for the 16in alloys and £660 for air-conditioning. All in all, expect a £12,730 sticker price for a sensibly-specced car.
The One and the Cooper have engines fitted with BMW¹s highly sophisticated variable valve control system. On the One, this has helped improve economy by 15 percent compared to the previous Mini¹s Chrysler-sourced 1.6-litre engine and has upped peak power output by 5bhp.
Although the claimed 0-62mph time is 10.9sec, this factory-fresh example didn't feel quite as fleet as that. It needed a reasonable amount of stoking before it was carrying enough speed not to need a lot of gear changing.
On the optional 16in alloys, our test car rode well and didn¹t suffer from the tyre roar of the larger-wheeled Cooper D we tried on the same roads. However, it did have the same noticeable wind noise around the roof and A-pillars.
And while we¹re picking holes, without the smart interior dressings the interior looks a little workaday and I'd mark down the radio for a rather thin sound. The plastic two-spoke steering looks cheap, though it feels surprisingly good.