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First Drive

First Drive: Mini Cooper Facelift

The story:
This is the mid-life revamp for the Mini hatch, which was launched in three-door form back in 2014. New colours and trims and new tech are the highlights.
Key rival:Audi A1
Mini Cooper
On sale:Now

This is a fairly big technological update for the three-door and five-door Mini hatch.

The current generation is mid-way through its life, with the three-door having been launched in March 2014, and the five-door coming half a year later.

Mini’s refresh brings minor engineering changes, in that the range, like the rest of the Mini line-up, gets a new seven-speed automatic dual-clutch gearbox that is claimed to improve efficiency, although figures are clouded by the switch in CO2testing regime; the manual 1.5-litre 136hp petrol Cooper model driven here rises by 7g/km and two BIK bands despite there being no change of powertrain.

Visually, the revised model can be picked out by what are now standard full-circle front LED running lights that also incorporate the indicators, while at the back LEDs are also standard, and feature Union Jack logos.Mini Cooper Hatch - Image 22Other spec changes include new colour options described as “vibrant” by the brand, and the Mini is now, according to the company, the only supermini available with Matrix headlamps that illuminate the road around other traffic to maximise night-time visibility without dazzling others.

On the inside, the infotainment system features a 6.5-inch screen as standard, and this can be upgraded to an optional 8.8-inch screen. Features now available also include Apple CarPlay and the Mini Connected package, which brings real-time traffic updates and remote app services such as fuel level, car location and whether the car is locked.Mini Cooper Hatch - Image 29To drive, the Mini is unchanged, which means it’s raucous fun on the right roads, but bumps and hops more than its rivals would if the road isn’t the smoothest. Still, it’s more nimble and fun than any rival, and the 1.5-litre 136hp Cooper, the best fleet bet in an age where diesel superminis don’t make company car sense, needs a bit of work but offers reasonable performance.

There’s just about enough space for four adults in this five-door model that costs £700 more than the three-door, and, as before, the list price easily shoots up when adding the likes of the very necessary Chili Pack at £2800; this adds a huge quantity of desirable items including upgraded alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, dual-zone climate control and cruise control.

Prices are up by around the same £1100 that the extra standard kit is worth, and residuals continue to be very high.


paul barker

The verdict

The CCT100 2018 Premium Supermini of the Year is improved, which means more tech and a bit more standard kit, although prices also rise. Good looks and great driving experience, but ride quality and comfort are the pay-off.