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Entry-level MINI magic One to watch

07:03 09 July 2015

The MINI One now gets an eager 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine which is a little cracker.

The MINI One now gets an eager 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine which is a little cracker.

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The entry point to MINI motoring, the petrol-powered One with its new turbo engine, appeals to the heart and the wallet, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Entry but not basic

The MINI One may be the entry point to the range but boosting its engine has had the same effect on its image and driveability.

It’s not as stylish as a Cooper but saves around £1,500 so you could add smart alloy wheels if you feel the need. Even in bog standard trim, it boasts all the good things that make up a MINI.

MINI One

Price: MINI One three-door from £13,935, five-door from £14,535

Engine: 1.2-litre, 102hp, three-cylinder turbo petrol

Performance (five-door): 0-62mph 10.1 seconds; top speed 119mph

MPG (five-door): Urban 47.9; extra urban 67.3; combined 58.9

CO2 emissions (five-door): 112g/km

Will it fit in the garage? Five-door: Length 3,982mm; width (including door mirrors) 1,932mm; height 1,425mm

Under the bonnet…

MINI (and BMW) are following other manufacturers in dropping bigger capacity, normally aspirated four-cylinder engines for smaller three-cylinder turbo and the MINI One now gets a 1.2-litre petrol engine based on the Cooper’s 1.5-litre unit.

If you think it’s going to be gutless, think again. With a healthy 102hp but, more importantly, a decent dose of torque peaking from 1,400rpm, it pulls willingly from low revs with no need to stir it into life with the six-speed manual gearbox – you can also pair it with automatic transmission. It takes the strain out of urban driving and out of your wallet at the petrol pumps with 50mpg overall easily achievable.

But it also revs happily, with that rorty three-cylinder engine note, picking up briskly with a couple of thousand revs on the clock – that’s around 60mph in sixth gear. It’s also very quiet so can hack it on motorways when needed but you do notice tyre noise on rough roads.

And on the road…

This third-generation MINI feels more grown up with a more composed ride although it can still get bouncy on poor roads.

With its wide track, and the five-door model’s longer wheelbase, it feels well planted on the road but retains that agile go-kart-like driving experience. Compared to sportier models, the One’s thinner tyres don’t have as much grip if you corner really hard.

At the wheel

The MINI’s retro fascia was far from user-friendly but that has changed. The new model keeps the traditional look but the speedo is now directly in front of the driver, flanked by a rev counter and fuel gauge, the round central screen now displays infotainment information and electric window switches are on the doors rather than low on the dashboard.

Space and comfort

Available as three and five-door hatchbacks, the latter has a more rear legroom, with an extra 72mm between the front an back wheels, so it is better suited for rear passengers although three in the back would be a squeeze.

The five-door’s boot has grown 67 litres to 278 litres and a removable panel makes the load space more versatile. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat, increasing load space to 941 litres.

Final say

No longer a basic budget model, the latest One with its new turbo petrol engine, appeals to the heart and head as much as the wallet, offering a lot of fun and badge appeal for the money.

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Meet the Editor

Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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