The Mini Hatchback is desirable and fun, and it has great re-sale values

Find Used Mini Hatchback 2006-2014 review deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Used car deals
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

When the new Mini arrived in 2001, there were a few mutterings from certain quarters, notably diehard Mini enthusiasts. They bemoaned the betrayal of the original’s true values, wondering where the innovation, the genre-busting packaging, the dedication to supplying economical, efficient transportation to the masses had gone.

However, Mini parent BMW was savvy and pitched the new Mini into a market of the noughties that placed great value on style, brand prestige and fun – a recipe that the reborn car brewed together with genuine panache. Its replacement - the Mini hatchback - aims to fix the faults and quirks while keeping the winning formula very much intact.

Load area is slightly bigger than old car’s, but it’s still pretty feeble compared with the best superminis

Mirroring BMW’s expansion of the Mini into as many different bodystyles as it can think of, the staple Mini hatchback range is now wider than ever, spanning the entry-level, back-to-basics First to the range-topping John Cooper Works model. In between, you’ll find One, Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper SD models. There’s even an all-electric version, the Mini E, on trial.

There were only subtle styling changes to the second-generation BMW Mini but, inside and under the skin, things were much improved. Many asked that if the Mk2 Mini had become more grown-up more than ever, how much – if any – of the charm of the original remained?



Mini Hatch front headlight

Contrary to every appearance, the Mk2 Mini was an all-new car, although no one seemed to notice while we were conducting the original road test – least of all Mk1 Mini drivers. But then market research has shown that the styling of the previous car was far and away the number one reason for purchase.

This policy was perfectly understandable on BMW’s part, although we can’t help but feel that a little of the visual appeal has been lost in translation. It’s only when you park new next to old that the differences are suddenly so obvious.

Cabin design is more stylish than ever; quality has improved too

The new car looks substantially bigger than the old one. In fact, there’s 55mm more in the nose, and the base of the windscreen is 18mm higher. It doesn’t look quite as cheeky and compact as the first BMW Mini, and the bluff front doesn’t have the complex curvature around the lights that gave the old Mini that bit more character – and also made it horrendously costly to manufacture.

The floor and front bulkhead are the same as before, but that’s where the parts sharing ceases. The new frontal structure features two upper and two lower crash boxes, with a substantial cross beam bolted between the front strut towers for added reinforcement. Although the stiffness of the structure is quoted as unchanged, considerable work has been done to improve impact protection along the sides.

The visual elements of a modest facelift in summer 2010 included more chrome around the front grille area, a revised front bumper designed to improve the Mini’s performance in pedestrian impact tests, and LED rear lights on all models.


Mini Hatch dashboard

It was all change for the Mk2 Mini inside, too, and invariably it was for the better. The seats are larger and more comfortable, and they site you low, in a much-improved driving position.

The central speedometer gives the cabin its unique design focus, but our testers found it redundant when faced with the digital speed readout below the revcounter. It also bulges upwards out of the dash, amplifying the feeling that this is one small car that isn’t so small any more. Nevertheless, it still has that bespoke, design-led appeal which trounces other small cars for showroom appeal.

Apart from a slightly suspect piece of plastic trim or two, everything feels very much the ‘premium product’

The Mk2 centre console is attractive and reasonably intuitive once learnt (though the oddly-placed audio controls can be extremely frustraiting) and the majority of plastics give off a suitably premium feel. The doors close with a resounding thunk and the cabin exudes a tightness that suggests it’ll resist the onset of rattles better than the old car. Pity about the oversized standard-fit two-spoke steering wheel and the miserable headlights, which are poor. The bi-xenon headlamps are a must-have option.

Despite the increase in the Mk2 Mini’s exterior dimensions, the rear is only marginally more accommodating than the first generation model – which is to say that it’s barely more than a 2+2. And the boot has only an additional 10 litres over the old car’s, so it’s still desperately small.

Mini owners apparently don’t mind this impractical side, which is just as well because compared with the practicality of, say, a Clio, it’s severely lacking.

The mid-life facelift brought with it revised controls for the audio systems and air-con, new colours for seat upholstery and trim elements, and a revised stereo that offers MP3 compatibility and an aux-in connection in every model.


Mini Hatch 1.6-litre petrol engine

The range of engines, and thus the performance offered in the Mini, is wider than ever. There’s a 74bhp 1.6 petrol version for the First, a 97bhp 1.6 unit for the One, a 121bhp 1.6 for the Cooper, a 181bhp 1.6 for the Cooper S and a 208bhp 1.6 for the JCW.

On the diesel side, the One gets an 89bhp 1.6 and the Cooper a 110bhp 1.6, while the potent Cooper SD breaks ranks by offering a larger 141bhp 2.0-litre BMW unit.

Cramped rear seats mean Mini continues to be more of a 2+2

In the mid-range Cooper, the engine is much smoother than that of the old Mk1 Cooper and far better on economy and emissions, but power and torque are only marginally improved. As before, the Cooper is no fireball – the engine needs to be revved hard and the slick new six-speed gearbox stirred frequently – but its feisty character makes up for any shortcomings in outright pace.

Fast. That sums up your initial impression of the Cooper S, and for two clear reasons. Firstly, this is a commendably responsive turbo engine, with immediate and serious shove available virtually from tickover. That means whenever you press that accelerator pedal, even at walking pace around town, the Cooper S darts forward with unabated enthusiasm. Secondly, the boost is held constant all the way to the upper reaches of the rev range.

At cruising speed in the Cooper SD, all that torque (225lb ft) allows you to pretty much leave the Mini in third gear on a B-road – that gear will get you from 30mph to beyond 70mph, which is a pretty decent performance spread. It feels genuinely quick. It’s not a supremely refined engine, but nor is it particularly unpleasant to live with.

The range-topping JCW feels properly rapid. The turbo spools up with almost no lag and the engine’s strong mid-range makes for effortless urge in any gear. Passers-by get to enjoy a rorty exhaust note, into which some over-run ‘crackle’ has been carefully engineered.


Mini Hatch front quarter

BMW wanted to retain the sporting handling of the Mini while responding to requests for lighter steering and a significant improvement in ride quality.

Sure enough, pottering around in a Mini couldn’t be easier or more pleasant. The steering is oily smooth, calm and light enough to be guided by your fingertips as you filter through traffic. Even more noticeable is the staggering improvement in ride quality.

Basic car seems okay, but add options and it becomes a very expensive, impractical supermini — offset by superb residuals

Our road test Cooper S wore the standard 16-inch wheels with regular Cooper S suspension (rather than the now optional sports set-up), and it coped admirably with broken town surfacing. Its relaxed gait promotes a definite big-car feel that its agitated predecessor could only dream about, a scope afforded by an additional 8mm of wheel travel in the redesigned front suspension.

That zestiness that you expect of the re-invented BMW Mini is still present in the Mk2 model. It changes direction keenly, despite a dose of initial body roll, and skates through corners with the sensation of a mild four-wheel drift when cornering hard – the car seems to pivot around a point somewhere below the handbrake.

It’s a surprisingly laid-back experience after the madcap previous car, and you need not look further than the electric power steering to find the chief reason why. It’s accurate and pleasingly linear in its response, but it’s almost too smooth and grown-up for a dynamic little car such as this, and the feel through the rim has a typical mask of electrical assistance.

With more potent petrol engines, the Mini is a rapid ground coverer – and entertaining in its own way – but perhaps a dash of personality and involvement has gone missing in the process.


Mini Hatch 2006-2014

With greatly improved fuel economy and reduced emissions, not to mention peerless residuals in the class, the new Mini makes a convincing case for itself here. Almost all the models are impressively efficient, peaking at 74.3mpg in the One D, but the 65.7mpg of the potent Cooper SD is also not to be sniffed at, given the level of performance.

The base First retails at a seemingly reasonable £11,810, but look more closely at the pricing structure and it’s easy to let the price soar. You really need to head towards the £13,400 One or even up to the £14,840 Cooper to get a Mini with real desirability and some decent standard kit. The First doesn’t offer alloy wheels as standard, for instance.

The toggle switches stay — a simple retro touch, but much cooler than mere buttons.

Mini offers good value packages to help keep the overall purchase down, including the Pepper pack that brings with it desirable leather trim and the Chili pack that offers a multifunction three-spoke steering wheel and extra interior storage. The TLC servicing option, which offers five years of servicing for a fixed cost, is another must-have. The TLC XL package looks even better value, offering eight years/80,000 miles of servicing for £275.

But considering the vast range of further options and personalisation available, the £20k-plus Mini is no doubt an everyday occurrence.

As for insurance, the Mini’s disparity of model choices leads to a wide range of groups. At one end of the scale is the bargain group eight First; at the other is the group 36 JCW model, greater than a VW Golf GTI, for instance.


3.5 star Mini Hatch

Faster, better built, smoother riding: in just about every area, the second-generation Mini hatchback is an improvement on its forebear, and car buyers will love it. It seems a little ironic, however, that it goes on sale on what would have been Alec Issigonis’s 100th birthday, because this new incarnation retains only a judiciously guarded strand of Mini DNA.

The Mini is a satisfyingly brisk machine in nearly all its forms, with impressive ‘legs’ for longer journeys. However, every time you drive a new Mini, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that it has lost something in transition to its second generation. Perhaps this car is just too logically executed, too much a lab-grown product tended by men in white coats with clipboards.

It’s all very well singing the praises of the chassis on 16in wheels, but visually there’s no contest between that and an example slammed on 17s.

BMW’s first Mini was touched by genius. It was an expensive car to build but deep in its core you could sense where that money had been spent. The new one is an altogether ‘better’ Mini, and with models like the Cooper D offering a combination of pace, sub-100g/km emissions and over 70mpg, frugality is also a convincing pitch in the face of the climate change onslaught.

But now, the Mini is one perilous step closer to Euro-normality. Style, branding and individuality are now all that stand between this tiny machine and more practical Volkswagen Golf-class cars – no longer does any new Mini bristle with dynamic character.

Although this hatch has paved the way for a wider range of cars in the Mini family, a little more of the old magic has been lost. On the other hand, sales figures prove that the more accessible Mk2 version has wider appeal.

Mini Hatch 2006-2013 First drives