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Mini First

Road Test

Mini Hatch First 1.4

Driven November 2009

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Good news - MINI HAS finally provided an alternative to being fleeced by its ‘options' packs. At £10,950, the Mini First becomes the cheapest on sale, undercutting the Mini One by £1,395.

And the First is brilliant. There are no blank switches inside and at no point do you think you've been diddled with a stingy version. All the major touch points are identical to other Minis (if you really need a bit of luxury, a Tech Package gets you a leather steering wheel and Bluetooth) and the First feels well screwed together.

Mechanically it's also identical to the Mini One. The 1.4-litre engine still gets six gears and that expensively engineered rear suspension. So there's no variation from a standard Mini - the First steers and goes as well as any other.

Better in fact. The run-flat tyres have been ditched for normal rubber on the 15-inch wheels, so the First rides considerably better than other Minis. It's not as noticeable at high speed, but around town the First seems to roll over lumps and bumps far more comfortably.

Inevitably there are downsides - for example, the standard plastic wheel covers are hideous and it doesn't come with air-conditioning as standard. That'll cost you an extra £665, but you'll need it if you want to retain any secondhand value. Still, factor aircon in, and the First is still the cheapest Mini by £730.

Piers Ward

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