New MINIToday, we’re at last driving the new MINI. After much anticipation since attending the first reveal at Plant Oxford for MSN Cars last November, now’s the day of reckoning.

Truth be told, being a MINI, I’m taking it as read that it’ll be pretty good. The outgoing car remains sublime to drive – but counters that with basically a 2+2 interior and tiny boot. The current MINI is a bit selfish; MINI needs to spread the love around a bit more with the new one.

The 2014 could actually get away with trading a little of the driving spirit if it came with a whole lot more space – and luckily, after kicking the tyres in Plant Oxford, I already do know it is now not just a car for singletons who can afford to fold the rear seats down when they go shopping.

Other wants: a little more ride comfort would be nice, as would a touch more refinement, and an interior that’s easier to use (not to mention a stereo you can adjust the volume on without accidentally changing the radio station) would also be good. Crack all this and the new MINI could be very pleasant indeed.

Who am I kidding.

The challenge for this car is stern beyond belief. Simply being pretty good isn’t good enough – and trading the old car’s spirit in the quest for more refinement really won’t be on at all.

New MINI

Basically, the new MINI has to ‘do a BMW F30 3 Series’ in the small car sector: cover all the practicality bits vital to people living with it, but also be an absolute gem to drive and thus maintain what makes the car appealing in the first place. Any softening of the MINI magic behind the wheel is, in terms of the car’s image and appeal, almost intolerable.

We shall see: we shall also see how flexible that new BMW UKL platform is- remember, this is not only underpinning the new MINI, but is also the basis of BMW’s first-ever front-wheel drive people carrier. And that fact in itself is why we shouldn’t take driver-pleasing brilliance as read here.

At least we know the engines will be superb. 105g/km CO2, 62.8mpg mpg but 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, 130mph, 134hp and, get this, 169lb ft of torque. 169lb ft – spread between 1,250-4,000rpm! Oh, and a three-cylinder soundtrack supported by a beefy BMW turbo. This bit I really can’t wait to try, and can almost guarantee will be fantastic.

The rest of it? We shall see: I’ll know more by mid-afternoon today. Check out @editorial_mr and @richardaucock for an early heads up… and come back here early evening tonight for a first verdict and some first views…

New MINI on MR

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