Wimbledon – 08 30 am.  We are in London for a few weeks and picking up our rental.  A 3-door Mini One.  What better car to drive around the streets of London other than a Mini? An iconic British brand from the 1960’s, continuing to be an icon under the controls of BMW.  BMW took the rights to the marque and re-introduced the new generation Mini in 2001.  Three generations later, is the 3 cylinder entry-level Mini as exciting as its bigger brother, the Mini Cooper?  We’ll let the streets of London decide.

Mini London big ben
The Mini Seven pictured is a special edition Mini with a lot more features and trim options but can the entry level Mini One be as appealing?

A Basic Cooper With Some Options 

mini models

All BMW Minis take styling cues from the original classic Mini.  The third generation Mini One is no different.  It is fairly difficult to distinguish the One from its slightly more expensive sibling, the Cooper.  Both cars are fairly similar in shape and size.  The only differences being the cooper having more performance and a few more styling options than the One.

All You Need In Town

The Mini One despite losing one cylinder, has more power than its predecessor.  Thanks to a turbocharger, it now produces 100 horsepower from its tiny 1.2L unit.  The One was a treat to manoeuvre around the narrow streets and tiny parking spaces of London.  Roll your windows down and you can make out the subtle sound of turbo’s the blow-off valves at work.  It even has a rather deep and pleasing exhaust note for a car with such a tiny little engine.

In a bid to save fuel and reduce emissions, Minis are now equipped with a start/stop function as standard.  At the red lights, stick the car into neutral ( Yes! We were driving a Manual Mini) and the car shuts down the engine, ready to re-start once you re-engage into first gear.

Driving through the streets neighbouring Canary Wharf in London © ISL AVENUE

Cheaper But Not Cheap On The Inside 

The One is an entry level Mini and is the cheapest way into the iconic brand.  However you can rest assured that its interior does not feel ‘cheap’ in any way.  The ergonomic seats cocoon you in a rather luxurious modern retro-inspire cabin.  The materials used feel soft to the touch, its chrome accent gives it a nice touch.  The buttons and knobs feel solid.  It is a very inviting cabin equipped with almost every feature you may need as standard; including start/stop and traction control as mentioned earlier.

Mini One Interior

But How Does It Fare Out Of Town

Minis are urban ‘luxury’ cars.  It has the style and amenities other cars in the segment may not provide and remains very much useable in busy cities such as London.  However Minis have always been famous for their go-kart feel and putting a big smile on the driver’s face on twisty roads.  How does the Mini One fair when you get it out of the comfort of the city and into the country side?

Absolutely Brilliant.  We took it back and forth between London and Brighton a few times and the cabin was rather quiet for a car in this class.  Show it some twisty roads and it just feels sharp and sporty.

We also swapped the 3-door for the 5-door Mini One, for a longer trip up North to the Lake Districts.  The 5-door was equally good, if not better than the 3-door.  It felt somewhat sportier probably due to the fact that the 5-door Mini one was equipped with bigger fatter tyres.  We are definitely convinced that the 3-door would have felt better had it had upgraded tyres instead of the standard 15″ alloy wheels.

Mini 5 door
5 Door Mini – An equally fun and engaging car to drive despite its additional doors

3 Door Style Or 5 Door Practicality

The 5 door Mini is certainly more practical than its 3 door version.  But the overall shape and shorter wheelbase of the 3 door makes it a more attractive and stylish car.  It certainly looks cooler (At least to us).  A perfect companion for a young professional or young couple.  But do go for the 5 door if you should be doing the school run.  It still looks gorgeous.

Mini 5 door space
If you are doing school runs, the 5 door is still not a bad choice but the 3 door just looks a tad bit better.    

Somewhat The Original Recipe

The Mini One bears some resemblance to the original Mini of the 1960’s.  A small economical car with a lower displacement and still able enough in delivering an exhilarating driving experience.  The car losing a cylinder doesn’t at all impair with its performance.  It delivers the right amount of power for everyday urban use and occasional hops to the country side or other cities.

It is a car that fits everywhere.  One that can make its way through tight corners or take on long drives.  A car that doesn’t really break the bank but still delivers more than other cars in or above its category in terms of performance, luxury and refinement.