Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Wide range of punchy engines
  • Only petrol from new, diesels dropped
  • All turbocharged and economical

There aren't any bad options when it comes to picking an engine for your new MINI, as the range of frugal and flexible turbocharged petrol engines on offer are very good. Diesels, however, were dropped in their entirety in 2018.

MINI Hatch One, Cooper and Cooper S

Choose the entry-level MINI One and power will come from a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with 102hp and 190Nm of torque, the latter of which is available from just 1,380rpm. It’s a sprightly performer, topping 120mph and reaching 62mph in 10.3 seconds.

Opt for the Cooper, with its 136hp 1.5-litre three-cylinder motor, and you’ll net yourself a capable and sporty performer. Thanks in part to 220Nm of torque from just 1,480rpm, it'll sprint from 0-62mph in just 8.0 seconds before going onto a top speed of 130mph.

Topping the standard petrol range is the four-cylinder, 2.0-litre Cooper S. Packing 192hp and 280Nm – from just 1,350rpm – into a small car is always going to produce rapid results: the MINI will accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds before achieving a top speed of 146mph. It's quick, and feels suitably eager and fun on the road.

Stepping up to the John Cooper Works variant bumps power up to 231hp, and torque is rated at 320Nm. The 0-62mph time falls to 6.3 seconds as well.

DCT dual-clutch gearbox

A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is available as an option on the One, Cooper and Cooper S. A sports automatic version of this is available on the Cooper S and Exclusive models, which adds paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

We tested this transmission paired with the old 1.5-litre Cooper D engine and it was slick and responsive. It moved up through the gears very smoothly indeed, with very little jerkiness sent through the car – like you’d sometimes experience in one of the VW Group’s DSG-equipped cars.

Pick a new John Cooper Works or a used Cooper SD with an automatic gearbox and you'll get an eight-speed transmission, not a dual-clutch like the other models. Again, sports version feature gear-shift paddles for improved driver control and engagement.

MINI John Cooper Works

Topping everything off is the John Cooper Works (JCW). It features the same 2.0-litre turbo engine as the regular Cooper S, but it’s tuned to produce 231hp, meaning its 0-62mph falls to 6.3 seconds in manual form, making for a real little pocket rocket. Its top speed is 153mph.

Engines no longer available

The entry-level MINI One used to be powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, but this was dropped in favour of a detuned version of the Cooper's 1.5-litre instead. There's not a great deal separating these two engines, but for our money the old 1.2-litre was a little more responsive at low rpm.

Also dropped was MINI's range of diesel engines. Badged One D, Cooper D and Cooper SD, they offered superb efficency but didn't really gel with the car's sprightly character. There were plenty sold, though, so you should easily be able to find good examples on the used market.

Also previously available was a Cooper S with a Works kit fitted, called the Cooper S Works 210. This, as the name suggests, packed 210hp.

Handling

  • The MINI is great fun to drive
  • Manages to be comfortable, too
  • Steering is sharp and responsive

A significant selling point for the car is how well the MINI Hatch handles compared to both the competition and the model it replaced. Despite being fun to drive, there’s no escaping the fact it’s also mature with greater evidence of comfort and refinement than previous iterations. It’s not bad, just different.

More grown-up feel, but still fun

Part of the reason is the MINI’s expanded size. As well as a 28mm stretch in the wheelbase, the tracks (the width between the wheels on either side of the car) have also been increased by 42mm at the front and 34mm at the rear. Consequently, it feels more stable – especially on motorway jaunts.

The suspension set-up promotes both agility and responsiveness. It’s nimble and accurate, yet also very refined. The ride comfort, especially on smaller wheels is compliant, while on larger rims (up to 18 inches) it’s noticeably firmer without feeling like it crashes over every bump and undulation.

Drive the Cooper S and those sensations are amplified further – it’s noticeably stiffer than the mid-spec Cooper but again feels like a larger, better engineered sports hatchback rather than a light and chuckable MINI of old.

Some may lament the steering, though. It’s sharp and accurate and, when switching off the traction control, the MINI remains very precise in when cornering and grips with impressive tenacity. But although the steering weights up progressively, it’s not as communicative as enthusiastic drivers may hope for.

These things are relative of course – the MINI Hatch’s steering is impressively engineered and it puts many other sporty hatchbacks to shame, but it’s true that others offer a greater degree of feel.

MINI driving modes

With a twinge of self-deprecating humour, the optional adjustable driving modes make reference to the MINI’s fabled go-kart-like agility.

Three modes are available: Green, which promotes fuel efficiency and encourages early upchanges, Mid which is your everyday selection and Sport for (and quoting the display itself) ‘Maximum go-kart feel'. There’s a noticeable change between the settings too, with Sport providing decidedly more fun than the other settings.