Best Mini yet

Best Mini yet

A recent upgrade to Mini’s three-door, five-door and Convertible models includes fresh design accents, an expansion of digital features and additional customisation options.


The recently facelifted Mini – now in its third generation – is more comfortable and better configured than its predecessors, the vehicle’s premium-class qualities reinforced through exterior styling changes, new engine and transmission combinations, an extended range of connectivity features and even more options for personalisation – a key part of the model’s popular appeal.

Featuring a choice of body styles and powerplants that are among the most frugal yet characterful in the small car segment, the Mini in all its forms proves to be fun to drive while remaining reasonably cheap to run. Even the slightly elongated five-door variant – which, in terms of rear passenger space, just manages to qualify as a family vehicle – retains the charm of its shorter, sporty siblings.

Perceived as upmarket and fashionable, the Mini has come a long way since its days as an ultra-compact, bare-bones commuter designed primarily for city travel.


Now, the cabins of latest derivatives offer high levels of sophistication and are well-crafted to provide a comfortable environment even when travelling long distances.

Based on a platform that underpins brand owner BMW’s X1, the Mini is available in a variety of specification and performance levels, from the basic Mini One through to Cooper and Cooper S derivatives, with hard-top, three-door models adding potent JCW variants, too.

The face-lifted line-up is equipped with a choice of two petrol-fuelled engines, each available in a different state of tune. The baseline unit – a turbocharged, 1,5-litre, three-cylinder plant – produces 75kW in Mini One guise, and 100kW in when used in Cooper derivatives.

A 2,0-litre, four-cylinder engine – also turbocharged – produces 141kW in Cooper S form and 170kW when fitted to JCW models. Transmission options across the range include six-speed manual; seven-speed, dual clutch Steptronic; and, in JCW models, a conventional, eight-speed auto ’box equivalent also dubbed Steptronic.  

Whatever form they take, the Mini’s powertrains prove to be responsive and economical, with consumption ranging from about 5,0 litres/100km in the three-door One to 8,0 litres/100km in the manual-shift JCW variant – the latter figure perceived to be good for a vehicle that’s capable of completing the zero to 100km/h sprint in under 7,5 seconds.


From an on the road perspective it’s the five-door derivative that impresses most in terms of ride comfort. In my view, three-door models – which have a slightly shorter wheelbase – don’t display similar levels of bump-soaking ability when traversing uneven surfaces.

In Cooper form, the 100kW delivered by the smooth spinning, three-cylinder engine strikes a good balance between performance and economy, the unit capable of propelling the vehicle from zero to 100km/h in 8,1 seconds while returning 6,0 litres/100km at the pumps. And the car is no slouch, either, when cruising, with top speed measured beyond 200km/h.


That said, derivatives with more powerful engines add higher levels of excitement to the drive – accelerating faster through the gears and taking top speed closer to the 250km/h mark. So, if it’s velocity you’re looking for, Cooper S and JCW derivatives are the options to consider.


If the Minis are impressive from a performance perspective, they are equally so from a connectivity and personalisation viewpoint. Offering anything from optional wireless mobile phone charging to upgraded radio and navigation systems that incorporate touchscreen monitors, the updates realised by the facelift tend to be unique in the small car segment.

Among the latest digital features are real time traffic information, an expanded concierge service and Mini’s vehicle internet portal – Mini Online – which offers news and weather forecasts. 


All derivatives except the entry-level model get a Connected Media package as a standard feature, which includes facilities that allow drivers to integrate mobility planning seamlessly into their day-to-day digital routines, including calendar entries and contact data.

Other digital services include Find Mate, a wireless tracking function which identifies tags attached to frequently used objects and travel items such as bags, cases, key rings and rucksacks to help to prevent them from getting lost.


On the customisation front, a Mini Yours programme allows designs created by customers – such as decorative strips for the cockpit fascia or side scuttles (plastic inserts next to the side indicators on the front wings), LED door sill finishes or door projectors – to be retrofitted to the vehicles. The products can be designed, ordered or selected through a specially created online shop – www.yours-customised.mini – and can be removed if the vehicle is sold.

Though the Mini’s styling upgrades appear minimal, they have significant visual impact. The rear LED light clusters, for instance, have been arranged to mimic a Union Jack design – underlining the car’s British heritage – while, at the front, the circular shape of the headlights has been reconfigured to incorporate a distinctive black panel and a ring of LED daytime running lights.



Additionally, LED headlights with a Matrix function are available to replace the vehicle’s standard set of Halogen globes while, at road level, a choice of two-tone wheel designs has been introduced. New, too is a reworked version of the Mini logo, new paint colours and new body finishes.

On the inside, an extended range of leather trim choices and other decorative options are on offer. A revised design for the steering wheel incorporates function buttons for cruise control and the infotainment system. Other standard features include an audio system, a centrally place, 6,5-inch colour monitor, and mobile phone integration via Bluetooth.

In all, the revised Mini package constitutes a step forward for the brand, extending elements of style, convenience and performance without rescinding the classic retro nature that is characteristic of the vehicle. 





One                        R302 200 (M)        R323 200 (A)

Cooper                   R370 300 (M)        R391 300 (A)

Cooper S               R428 300 (M)        R449 300 (A)

JCW                       R487 300 (M)        R511 600 (A)


One                       R312 300 (M)         R333 300 (A)

Cooper                  R380 400 (M)         R401 400 (A)

Cooper S               R438 400 (M)        R459 400 (A)


Cooper                  R423 200 (M)        R444 200 (A)

Cooper S               R493 800 (M)        R514 800 (A)