Mini First

The Essentials

  • Price from £11,870
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 52.4mpg
  • What is it? Mini at its most affordable.

Great

  • Low price doesn't mean less fun on the road
  • Stop-start technology helps keep running costs low
  • Bargain price tag and good resale potential

Gripes

  • Spartan cabin and kit list remind you it's a budget model
  • Engine needs working hard for real pace
  • Access to the rear seats is for the slim and nimble
  • Drive

    Reduced engine power hasn't affected the joyful Mini driving experience

  • Inside

    Mini's rather cluttered 'Back to the Future' dash styling and lots of seat and steering adjustment

  • Safety

    All the basics are included, but you'll need to fork out extra for stability control

  • Reliability

    Mini hasn't scrimped where it matters, and owners are happy with their Firsts

  • Space

    Great for two plus a couple of bags; save the back seats for kids or short and agile friends

  • Standard and extras

    So that's why it's so cheap: no air-con, no alloys

  • What's it like to drive?

    What the Mini First lacks in outright power, it makes up for in fun. The 74bhp engine shouldn't keep your parents awake worrying that you're racing on the dual carriageway, but with a six-speed gearbox and the car's go-kart style handling, there's plenty to enjoy about driving it. The firm ride is all part of the appeal, but the amount of road and wind noise that reaches the cabin is disappointing.

  • What's it like inside?

    Mini aficionados will recognise the retro look, from the huge central speedo to the old-school toggle switches. Plenty of adjustment and lots of space make life comfortable for those up front, so make sure you call shotgun early. Rear passenger access is easiest for yoga buffs and contortionists who can squeeze through the narrow door opening. No-one will ask you to help them move house: the boot is tiny, although the rear seat back does split and fold down.

  • How reliable is it?

    ISOFIX child seat fittings and front, side and curtain airbags are standard. Stability control costs extra across the range.
    Mini has an average record for reliability and while owners love their cars, dealer service isn't always so impressive.

  • Should I buy one?

    There's a reason for that low low (for a Mini) price tag: the car is very meanly equipped, with no air-con and plastic wheel trims as standard. Options packages are available but that rather defeats the point of the price. Resale values should be strong, however, and the stop-start engine system helps keep fuel economy down to around 52mpg. Do get Mini's TLC servicing package which covers all routine maintenance with one reasonable payment.