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Entry-level Mini One gets a 1.2 three-cylinder engine and a welcome torque boost, but you might want to upgrade the standard wheels
27 May 2014

What is it?

This is the Mini One, the entry-level petrol version of the new, third-generation Mini. It features a brand new three-cylinder engine, a 1.2-litre turbocharged unit, that’s essentially a reduced cubic capacity version of the 1.5-litre engine used in the new Mini Cooper.

It still gets direct injection and double-VANOS, as well as a stop-start system, but power drops from 134bhp to 101bhp and price goes down from the Mini Cooper's £15,300 to the One’s £13,750.

As with all the other new Minis, the One is made on the same new BMW front-wheel-drive platform that will be used in other future models both from Mini and BMW.

The new model replaces the old Mini One, which had a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four cylinder, with 97bhp but only 113lb ft of torque, compared with the new model’s 133lb ft, this is a real boost to in-gear acceleration.

What's it like?

The first thing that catches the eye are the standard 15in rims, with skinny 175/65 R15 low rolling resistance tyres. They make the car look as if it is using four emergency replacement wheels: a bit of a car stylist’s nightmare, really.

Open the door and the One doesn’t look cheap at all, however. All materials used in the cockpit are as good as the ones found in the more expensive Cooper and Cooper S variants and there is no shortage of switches in the centre console or trademark toggle switches.

The car we drove had some optional extras fitted, including a sports leather steering wheel with cruise control and Mini Driving Modes. This allows the driver to choose from Green, Mid or Sport modes. Each modifies accelerator response, steering effort and engine acoustics and, unlike similar systems in other cars, here you can actually feel the difference.

Choose Green and the circular centre console flashes a green arc and the engine gets notoriously less responsive, but never to the point of feeling sluggish. In the instrument cluster, fitted to the steering wheel column, appears a scale indicating how many range 'bonus' miles the driver won by driving in a economy-friendly way.

Change to Sport and the three-cylinder engine comes alive, without ever sounding like a typical three-pot. The engine note is surprisingly pleasant, with a roaring sporty sound. 

Press the accelerator and the One feels more rapid than the 0-62mph figure of 9.9sec might suggest. The torque curve starts to rise from very low revs and delivers a convincingly swift response across a wide range of engine speed. 

The gear change is a true joy for the keen driver. This new six-speed manual performs great automatic rev matching on downshifts, which the driver can override if they apply some well-judged heel and toeing. Fifth- and sixth-gear ratios are a little long, to save fuel when driving on the motorway, where wind noise is not as low as it could be.

And we come back to those skinny tyres. True, city driving is not affected by them and motorway fuel consumption actually benefits. But turn onto a B-road to exploit that famous go-kart-like Mini handling and soon the tyres start to come up short in terms of road holding and precision. Tyre degradation even becomes an issue, when the tyres start to bend, under heavy cornering. 

One thing is true, if you get your driving back to eight-tenths the balance between available power and grip highlights the new Mini’s excellent dynamics, which are better savoured with the stability control off. 

Sliding the front or the rear (or both) is just a question of how much lock you apply to the steering wheel and how deeply you nail the accelerator or how quickly you release it. 

This is not exactly akin to Cristiano Ronaldo playing in high heels but it seems a good idea to order your Mini One with upgraded tyres: you would lose something in fuel economy but not much in comfort, because the ride on the standard tyres is not that supple anyway.

Should I buy one?

If you really need to save the £1550 that separate Mini Cooper from Mini One, the answer is yes and you won’t be disappointed by the torquey 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine. Just spend whatever money you can get on a bigger set of wheels. 

If you have some financial slack, go for the Cooper version. It gives access to another level of performance and the claimed fuel economy is actually slightly better.

Mini One 1.2

Price £13,750; 0-62 mph 9.9sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 61.4mpg (combined); CO2 108g/km; Kerb weight 1090kg; Engine 1198cc, in-line three-cylinder, turbo; Installation front, transverse Power 101bhp at 4250rpm Torque 133lb ft at 1400rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
15

27 May 2014
This sounds like an impressive package, but am I alone in wanting a front drive BMW to actually look like err... a BMW? The mechanical specification, size, performance, weight etc of this car are first rate, but I just don't like the retro "Mini" aspect. And I don't want aritficial engine noise either...

27 May 2014
The new Mini One's 1198cc engine (along with sub-1000cc petrol & diesel variants) would be perfect for a sub-Mini to the likes of the Volkswagen Up! or new Peugeot 108.

27 May 2014
Yet again those cheeky MINI marketing guys have been ticking the option boxes on your test car Autocar.
Unlike the pics you show, there are no LED lights, no 3-spoke steering wheel, no chrome interior pack, no upgraded speaker package, no sports seats, no 17"wheels on the Base Cooper, which you're showing the price for.
Are these pics from the press-launch?

27 May 2014
.....Autocar actually test drove the bog standard MINI One and not one loaded with extras that significantly changes it's appearance inside and out. I would rather see pics showing the standard 15" wheels and basic interior reflecting what you actually get for your £13,750.

27 May 2014
It wouldn't be so bad but the wheels pictured are nearly £1000 alone

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

28 May 2014
Remarkable fuel economy, sounds like its nice to drive, interior is nice with lots of design variations. Car looks nice except for the headlights which has too much rake on them with a grill that sticks out too much. 3 cylinder is not part of mini, they should have put a 4 cylinder with the same stroke as this 3 cylinder and call it a 1275. marketing mistakes when made are clearly visible to car buffs arent they

28 May 2014
I'll bet it was a male who wrote this review. Little or nothing is written about economy one obtains; nothing about practicality. Instead we get a load of nonsense about tyre size. Further, as others have noted this car is hardly the standard car. To the reviewer - most people, male or female, don't choose cars on the basis of their performance on B-roads. The writer of this review might like to watch Rebecca Jackson when she reviews a car. Being a racing driver herself Rebecca does discuss performance but mentions a whole lot more as well.

28 May 2014
I did a configuration on the Mini site and quite liked the standard wheels, grey paint and black interior. Naturally, when I visit my nearest Mini dealer they'll try to persuade me to load it up with expensive options in order to get delivery as soon as possible. However, I'm too long in the tooth to fall for that. I've endless patience and frugality as well so the car, should I end up buying one will be what I want.

28 May 2014
It is a Mini, how many of them are base spec? Part of their appeal is the fact you option them up. While it would be good to see a base spec mini tested, very few actually are. As for fuel economy, I bet it will get mid 40's on average

28 May 2014
Heel and toeing, B road on the limit handling and precision.
This car will be brought by people who want style and economy, not racing drivers.
Over specced cars for the press release that do not reflect the base car or represent the car the above group of people will buy.
I took time to read this review just to get an understanding of the base model and kill 10 minutes. Now I am just annoyed.
Articles like this are the reason I stopped buying autocar some time ago.
If it's not the latest top line German car with 500bhp it's 'reviews' like this that are irrelevant to the potential customer. I'm out!!!

MB

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