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Mini Cooper

Road Test

Mini Hatch road tested

Driven September 2010

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The Mini Cooper has had things tough recently. The DS3 has sashayed in on its patch, looking all French and sharky of B-pillar and murmuring sweet Gallic nothings. And, to add insult to injury, it's done it all with the Mini's engine tucked under its oh-so-fashionable bonnet. That's like finding out the guy who's been seeing your girlfriend behind your back was wearing your boxer shorts the whole time.

It is time for the Cooper to fight back with venom, and that fightback comes in the shape of - wait for it - an extra two horsepowers and a few grams less CO2. Ah.

Actually, there's much more than that to come - this autumn will see the entire Mini range get a comprehensive facelift - but a few light revisions to the Cooper's 1.6-litre turbo petrol are the first step. It would, of course, be entirely cynical to suggest that the modest bump in power is simply to keep the Cooper a hair's breadth ahead of the DS3, so we won't. Instead, we will applaud the 12g/km reduction in CO2, which save you a helpful £110 on your first year's road tax.

Otherwise, it's the same old, good old Cooper, still a happy balance of cheery handling and affordable performance (and, incidentally, a fine car to learn handbrake turns in, not that we'd ever advocate such a reckless pursuit). The DS3 might look fresher, but the Cooper is still the sweetest-drivin' supermini around.

Sam Philip

On your drive for: £344pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.1secs, max speed 126mph, 52.3mpg
Tech: 1598cc, 4cyl, FWD, 122bhp, 118lb ft, n/a kg, 127g/km CO2

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