It is so seldom that motoring journalists are given the entry-level model of any product range. I get it, the manufacturers want us to experience the best they have to offer. But sometimes, just sometimes, the best on offer is in fact their entry-level offering. This, for me, is the case with Mini. I have never been a huge fan, often finding the drive too firm and the drive too “toy-like”…which I understand is the appeal for many Mini drivers, it just doesn’t appeal to me. But the Mini One has crept in to my heart and I am thrilled to say that I have finally found a Mini that I can ‘get on board’ with.
What I have come to realise while driving this car is that Mini is at its best in its simplest form. When it is on normal suspension and runs on smaller tyres. The drive is not nearly as firm as some of its siblings, yet is still fun enough to feel engaging. I get the go-kart appeal of a Mini, it is what many want out of their ever day driving experience. I just prefer something more fuss-free and less kidney-impacting. The Mini One offers this.
The engine, which is a 1.5-litrethree-cylinder turbocharged petrol unit, produces 75 kW of power and 190 Nm of torque. In a car of this size, it is certainly enough. It is punchy and makes for the perfect city car. My test model was mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, you can opt for a manual gearbox if you so wish. The auto is mated beautifully to this engine, there are few moments wasted while the ‘box hunts for a gear.
And just because it is an entry-level model, does not mean it has no bells and whistles as standard. It has all the usual suspects you would expect from a premium hatchback such as a multi-function steering wheel, alarm system with radio remote control, rain sensors and air-conditioning etc. And if you love the quirks of a Mini, the One has them too. The interior retains that retro yet modern look with the circular centre console.
Look, as much as I enjoyed driving this entry-level Mini, it remains a Mini which in my mind is not a practical car (unless you opt for the larger Clubman or Countryman…and even then I am not sold). The boot remains really tiny and being a three-door hatch, you can just imagine the rear seat leg room…or lack thereof. The test unit I had was fitted with optional Isofix anchorage point which I find unnecessary as I can’t see this being an ideal family car. Trying to get a baby in and out of that rear section would prove tricky.
But not everyone wants or needs a practical car and if it is a Mini you are after, be sure to test this one. Bear in mind it only comes with a limited one year/25 000 km Motorplan so you may want to look at a more powerful Cooper if just for this reason. But keep it simple!
MINI ONE PRICING
Mini One manual: R397 600
Mini One Automatic: R418 853