One of the most iconic cars of all time, the MINI Cooper has been an integral part of British motoring ever since its debut back in the 1960s. But how is the car today? Is it just a fashion icon or is it still one of the best hatchbacks to drive in the 2020s? Here’s our review of the MINI Cooper.
The Mini brand first started back in the 1960s, with the launch of the Mini Mark I. An instant icon, the car’s brand and reputation was further established by the model’s appearance in The Italian Job film, and impressive performance in various motorsport events. It quickly became synonymous with the swinging sixties.
The car’s popularity faded over time, but when German company BMW purchased the brand, they relaunched the car with a cheeky advertising campaign in 2000, putting the car back into the mainstream with an updated look, better engines, while retaining the personality that made the original such a success. The most recent iteration was launched in 2021.
The MINI has one of the most distinctive designs across all of motoring, with only the Fiat 500, VW Beetle and Citroen 2CV comparable in terms of iconic status. One of the best things about the modern MINI is that it has been able to retain the square, blocky design that makes it so distinctive, even with modern aerodynamics and safety requirements.
When compared to the original, it does feel like a scaled up version, with parts stretched out to modern standards. That means you get a lot more interior space than usual, with room in the front and back for adults to be comfortable. Boot space is not massive, but more than enough for a city car, which is what the modern MINI is best suited to.
It may seem like a bit of an insult, but there’s a reason why many drivers cite the MINI Cooper as being like a go-kart to drive. But for many people, that’s a good thing. Something that’s easy and responsive to drive, where you feel like you can dart around corners with a great deal of control. It’s fun to drive, something that harkens back to its 60s heyday.
It’s also a comfortable drive, with an improved suspension when compared to previous iterations, and a quiet ride with little to no motorway noise inside the cabin. Ideal for a family where keeping kids asleep is important!
In terms of tech, there are a few different levels to choose from. Our particular favourite is the parallel parking assist, which will do the most difficult (for some) parking manoeuvre for you. It really is something strange to experience, but you’ll soon wonder how you ever coped without it.
The basic 1.5 litre model will give you 52mpg, not bad for a petrol engine these days. In terms of insurance, the car sits in higher insurance group than other small hatchbacks, meaning your premiums will be slightly higher.
The good things with the MINI is that it has a strong resale value on the used market, thanks to its iconic pedigree. So when the time does come to say goodbye, depreciation won’t have affected you too much.
All-round, the MINI is a car much more than just a quirky fashion statement. Slightly more expensive than other small hatchbacks, it more than makes up for it in charm and driveability, it makes driving fun. Not many cars can say that.