MINI car with maxi appeal

With the new three-door MINI hatchback being launched next month, it’s a good time to think about a used current-generation model. The mainstay of the MINI range is a great choice if you value style and pace.

Engines – Over the years the MINI’s engine line-up has grown to include a wide choice of frugal and potent petrol and diesel units but the popular choice is the 122 horse power 1.6-litre petrol unit but there’s also a 112hp 1.6-litre turbo diesel in the standard Cooper. Upgrades focused on economy and refinement, ensuring savings at the pump and a welcome upmarket cabin feel.

Exterior – Even today there can be no more distinctive shape on the market than the MINI’s. From 2006, the car offered subtle but important gains in refinement, driving dynamics and a general tweaking of the its trademark looks.

Interior – Front-seat occupants fare well but the rear seats are adequate for children and small adults. At first glance the novelty switchgear might appear to be an ergonomic nightmare, but it all works well and adds to the quality MINI-centric cabin.

Driving – You will have a lot of fun with the MINI, which translates into direct steering, great handling and good agility around town. Get the most powerful variant you can afford or you will always be left wanting more as the lower-powered cars can feel a little sluggish at times.

Ownership – If you’re smitten, look for examples with good levels of equipment as it’s only recently that standard kit levels were improved.
And while they might look good, big alloy wheels tend to make the ride less compliant, which is something to consider if you spend a lot of time in town. Look out for mondel with equipment option packs which are more desirable and, on newer models, the five-year or 50,000-mile MINI TLC routine servicing package is a bonus.

What to look for – Don’t be intimidated by the wealth of choice and always check for parking dents and minor scrapes. Kerbed alloys are another worry – especially as the damage could be hiding more expensive unseen problems. Rust and misaligned panels probably mean a bodged repair so walk away.

Model history – 2006, thorough upgrade of original BMW-made MINI saw a raft of improvements to the car’s looks, refinement, equipment levels and the way it drove. The expanding engine line-up offered both petrol and diesel units delivering enhanced performance and economy

Reasons to buy – Fun to drive, stylish, no shortage of choice.

Reasons to beware – Sparsely-equipped cars

Pick of the range – Cooper 1.6 petrol

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