This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest MINI Hatchback review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

There's a good choice of engines in the MINI range starting with the First. Launched in mid 2009 this uses a 1.4-litre petrol engine with a modest 75bhp. It's not especially quick with a 0-62mph time of 13.2 seconds, but it is economical with an average of 53mpg. The MINI One uses the same 1.4 unit with 95bhp, but don't be put off by the small numbers - it's really enjoyable to use, especially around town.

Smooth and tractable at low revs this great little unit is happy to be revved and never feels strained. It’s also good on the motorway and is surprisingly relaxed over long distances. All models come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and its slick nature makes it easy to keep the 1.4-litre engine on the boil. The Cooper is powered by a 120bhp 1.6-litre engine which reaches 62mph in 9.1 seconds but does need to be worked quite hard.

The Cooper S uses the same engine but thanks to a turbocharger, power is boosted to 175bhp, giving it a genuine hot hatch feel and a very impressive 0-62mph time of 7.1 seconds. It's a hugely enjoyable engine to exploit with an eager nature and a rasping exhaust note. There is also a diesel version - the Cooper D - which uses a 110bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel.

It isn't much slower in a sprint than the Cooper and has the benefit of extra mid-range performance, useful when overtaking. It's also incredibly economical, averaging an astonishing 72mpg while low emission ensure cheap road tax - as a result it's our pick of the range. Cars from late 2007 are fitted with Efficient Dynamics which helps save fuel and lower emissions thanks to systems such as engine stop/start.

One of the key strengths of the MINI has always been it's excellent handling and the second generation car continues that tradition. It has a real go-kart like feel with incredibly responsive steering and a low-slung driving position. Body roll is kept well in check too helped by new rear suspension which has been upgraded compared to its predecessor.

The MINI is fitted with electric power steering and although this often comes at the expense of driver involvement, this isn't the case here. Point the car at a corner and it will track precisely all the way round, with a great deal of feedback through the steering, while the tyres grip tenaciously at seemingly unlikely speeds.

MINI petrol engine options

• 1.4-litre 95hp
• 1.6-litre 75hp or 120hp
• 1.6-litre Turbo 175hp, 208hp or 218hp

MINI (R56) diesel engine options

• 1.6 Turbo D 115hp or 145hp
• 2.0 Turbo D 145hp

Transmission options

• Front-wheel drive
• Six-speed manual
• Six-speed automatic