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Mini Hatch

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Mini
8/10

Overall
verdict

This is one of the best handling cars around, in its class or any other. The only catch is the eye-watering price.

Additional Info

  • Top Gear wildcard

    If you’re after a bit of quality and individuality and don’t care for the Mini’s dynamics, then how about a Smart?

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What is it?

An utterly sublime drive, the Mini represents the very best of Anglo-Germanic engineering. This is the definitive driver’s supermini, even in relatively modest engine trim, and the handling potential is backed up by great build quality, superb engines (all designed by BMW these days) and an enjoyable degree of personalisation. Although you do have to be extremely careful with that. There are plenty of comprehensively ruined Minis out there thanks to bad colour choices and terrible decals. Oh, and all Minis are expensive. It wouldn’t be fair not to mention that up front. It’s pure, blatant daylight robbery, for which we give them immediate clemency – even if the eyewatering £41k list price of the Goodwood special edition may be pushing things...

Driving

There’s not enough space here to really do the Mini’s driving characteristics justice. Suffice to say there is nothing in its class that comes close, with the possible exception of the sportiest Renault Clios. The Mini offers a remarkably refined and grown-up driving style – something that perhaps helps it to justify the premium price tag – but it’s the car’s ability to turn that on its head that makes it so special. Halfway through a long and comfortable journey you find yourself gently weaving through a series of tight bends. Build your speed and your Mini builds with you, more than capable of handling whatever gets thrown at it. The steering, although not full of feel, is crisp and accurate, the chassis so responsive it might have been spot-welded to your backside. This is about as good as it gets.

On the inside

Another class-leading aspect of Brand Mini is its unique and beautiful interiors. Although there are some cheap plastics in there, the impression is one of quality. Toggle switches and outsized retro dials sit alongside high end BMW-sourced parts. Cars should always be as good to look out of as they are to behold, and the Mini is the only car in the supermini segment that is. It’s only failing, cabin-wise, is that the rear seats are all but useless.

Owning

If you are lining up a Mini as your next purchase, be it Cooper, Convertible or Clubman, just go carefully. A sensible spec and tasteful colour combo will ensure strong resale values and fewer obscene gestures during your tenure. In terms of running costs, Minis will always be dearer to insure than your average small hatch, but there’s an excellent service package available, and the diesel can go mega miles on a single tank. Indeed, all models are pretty fuel efficient, even the JCW.

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Latest road tests

6/10 Mini Hatch road tested
September 2010
7/10 Mini Hatch First 1.4
November 2009

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