The range of engines, and thus the performance offered in the Mini, is wider than ever. There’s a 74bhp 1.6 petrol version for the First, a 97bhp 1.6 unit for the One, a 121bhp 1.6 for the Cooper, a 181bhp 1.6 for the Cooper S and a 208bhp 1.6 for the JCW.

On the diesel side, the One gets an 89bhp 1.6 and the Cooper a 110bhp 1.6, while the potent Cooper SD breaks ranks by offering a larger 141bhp 2.0-litre BMW unit.

Cramped rear seats mean Mini continues to be more of a 2+2

In the mid-range Cooper, the engine is much smoother than that of the old Mk1 Cooper and far 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.

Fast. That sums up your initial impression of the Cooper S, and for two clear reasons. Firstly, this is a commendably responsive turbo engine, with immediate and serious shove available virtually from tickover. That means whenever you press that accelerator pedal, even at walking pace around town, the Cooper S darts forward with unabated enthusiasm. Secondly, the boost is held constant all the way to the upper reaches of the rev range.

Top 5 Superminis

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

At cruising speed in the Cooper SD, all that torque (225lb ft) allows you to pretty much leave the Mini in third gear on a B-road – that gear will get you from 30mph to beyond 70mph, which is a pretty decent performance spread. It feels genuinely quick. It’s not a supremely refined engine, but nor is it particularly unpleasant to live with.

The range-topping JCW feels properly rapid. The turbo spools up with almost no lag and the engine’s strong mid-range makes for effortless urge in any gear. Passers-by get to enjoy a rorty exhaust note, into which some over-run ‘crackle’ has been carefully engineered.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week