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News & Reviews
Last 7 Days
By Daniel DeGasperi
Quick Specs
1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol
$28,950 plus on-road costs
Three years/unlimited kilometres
See the full specs Read the full review
By Daniel DeGasperi

So, where did you go on your date?

I took the Mini to a place where it’d be super impressed; the tight graffiti-clad laneways of the Sydney’s leftie inner west nook, Glebe. The tighter the streets, the more the Mini thrived, and when we got to my favourite sushi joint we scored a rockstar out front.

Ideal first date?

While I would have loved to try the Mini’s go-kart handling on country roads, it felt more at home in the city than any Mini I’ve driven before. The teeny, tiny 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine is a gem, where the old car lacked a turbo and was heartless. The new cabin is well finished but unpretentious in this base spec and thanks to chubby tyres, the new one minced pot holes and speed humps like a champion.

Hot or not?

Hot. Particularly in navy blue with white mirror caps, stripes and roof like our test car. Some would say British Racing Green is the ideal Mini colour, but for me this would be exactly how I’d spec my Mini. It is a bit big for a Mini these days, though, the nose is a bit Countryman-bluff and the tail-lights oversized. It’s more colour/style sensitive than ever, but this one works.

It's what's inside that counts, what do you think of the interior?

Before this Mini I flirted with the powerful Cooper S but didn’t like its interior. It was so glitzy and glammy – not what a Mini is about. This base spec though, with simple cloth seats, a nuggety leather wheel and soft-touch door trims is simple and sweet. No chintz means the new interior’s quality materials are left in the spotlight.

Standout features?

Even on a short city trip, it shone. The engine is a cracker, super sweet and perky. The ride – well, this the first Mini I’ve ever driven with a compliant edge to its firmness. And newfound quality comes through in the integration of BMW’s iDrive and the cabin materials. These are the three big first impressions that complement trad-Mini traits like super-sharp steering.

Annoying habits?

Even though most buyers will chose the $2350-optional six-speed automatic, it shunts on light releases of the brake as though it thinks it’s a dual-clutch gearbox. It is hard to drive in traffic, and a Mini should be a manual anyway since it’s all about fun. Despite being bigger on the outside, the rear seat is still cramped.

Ready for a family?

No chance. The back seat is for little tikes only, and only two fit across there, which although I don’t have family of five, is a bit of a pain if I’m playing designated driver for four burly mates. The boot is tiny, too.

High maintenance?

Not in the brochure, with perky 4.9L/100km economy, but when driven like a Mini’s meant to be driven (okay, how yours truly drove it) the trip computer showed … 13.7L/100km. Gulp. BMW servicing is also traditionally higher than your average check-up, but condition-based servicing means the car’s computer will tell you when it needs a visit to Doc.

Any deal-breakers?

No. Reduced price, better engine, better ride, nicer interior – this Mini is a beauty.

So, is it serious or just a one night stand?

A Mini is the perfect inner city car, but then so is the Audi A1 I’ve just jumped out of, and it has a bigger boot and rear seat, too. But then it isn’t as cool as the Mini, or as fun – oooh, I’m torn. I vote polygamy; I’ll have them both.

Keeping your options open?

In addition to the Audi A1 Sportback there’s also the Fiat 500, which is a cheap one night stand but no more, and the

If it's not for you, who would you recommend it to?

Young urban professionals. Or anyone who digs getting a great parking spot as much as tearing up a backroad.