This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest MINI Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The 1.6-litre engine come in two states of tune: the One is 90bhp, while the Cooper has 115bhp. Opt for the One D diesel and there’s 75bhp on offer (88bhp from 2005). The 1.6 – whilst not being the most refined petrol engine in this class – feels peppy, and acceptably quick as a Cooper. It’s a similar story with the 1.4-litre D. Although it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s easy and punchy to drive around town, even at low revs.

However, get it on a open road, and it feels disappointingly weak and struggles with overtaking. An 88bhp version was offered from 2005, giving improved performance. The six-speed gearbox needs to be worked hard to get the most from it – you’ll find yourself changing gear surprisingly often.

This is MINI’s strongest suit: it’s a hoot to drive. It may be bigger in every respect compared to the original, and is a far more substantial car, but the engineers who developed MINI managed to maintain its unique handling traits. That means it corners superbly, has sharp steering and feels controllable at all times. A lot of this has been achieved with clever on-board electronics that are a world away from the original car – like ABS, traction control and brake assist – which make the car safer as well as more enjoyable to drive.