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.
Although very stable and confident, the One felt slightly duller to drive than the Cooper, though this sensation might have been caused by the fact that the chassis is markedly under-engined with just 95bhp at its disposal.
Should I buy one?
The Mini One is very solidly engineered, comfortable and impressively well made. It just lacks the necessary fizz to bring its charismatic chassis to life.
Enthusiastic wannabe Mini owners probably won't mind. Everybody else will want more poke.