Opinion: This Mini is half the price, but not half the fun

Mini One Classic opinion

Whichever way you look at it, £34,995 for a new Mini is a lot of money. I’m not going to venture down the ‘Mini car, Maxi price’ alley, but £35k for a supermini? Ouch.

Sure, it comes with a Nurburgring lap time, but I’ve seen coaches, campervans and even Chrysler PT Cruisers lapping the big toll road in the trees, so that’s no big deal.

To be honest, I wouldn’t care if the Henry Cooper Works Doctor came with a dinner date with Keeley Hawes and a lifetime supply of Hobnobs, because it still seems expensive. Actually, thinking about it, the Hawes and Hobnobs thing could tip the balance in favour of the hot hatch.

Naked attraction

I digress. My biggest problem the hardcore Mini isn’t the price, it’s the fact that maximum Mini thrills are available at a more affordable price. Like, less than half the price.

The Mini three-door Hatch One Classic is a rather awkward name for a quite brilliant car. This is the modern Mini in a state of undress – laid bare for a warts and all examination of the car’s famed ‘go-kart’ handling.

It costs £16,195, which is just £200 more than an entry-level Ford Fiesta. For that you get LED lights galore, air conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, a 6.5-inch display, vegan-friendly seats, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio and 15-inch steel wheels.

Mini One Classic on steel wheels

Yes, steel wheels. Forget what you might have read in What Glamour? magazine, because owning a small car with steel wheels is a rite of passage. It’s like the transition from the nursery slopes to the black run – first you must prove your mettle with a set of steelies.

The Mini One Classic is powered by one of the best three-pots in the business. In this form, the BMW 1.5-litre twin-turbo produces 102hp, which isn’t going to set any ‘Ring records, but is more than enough to raise a smile on the inner ring road.

At 44.8mpg to 47.9mpg, it’s also the most frugal Mini Hatch, short of putting your name down and waiting in line for the electric version. But unlike the leccy one, the Mini One offers enough range for a Londoner to take a day trip to Crich Tramway Village near Matlock without breaking into a sweat.

Other tramway museums are available. Probably.

Just say no

Clearly, Mini has made a mint out of a business model that encourages dealers to encourage punters into upgrading to a more expensive model. Mini would rather you didn’t buy a three-door Hatch One Classic, not when there are countless trim levels, engines, packs, options and accessories to choose from.

Anyone who leaves a Mini showroom with a £16,195 Mini has either mastered the art of saying “no” or is a former cast member of Grange Hill.

I’m fully aware that the list price is largely irrelevant, so the fact that the Mini One Classic is available on PCP or PCH for £199 a month will be music to the ears of Generation Rent. Granted, the rear seats are best reserved for child contortionists, and the ride is a little on the firm side, but if your heart is set on a Mini, I doubt you’ll care.

It’s also fair to say that the Fiesta offers better value for money and greater practicality, so the rational money would be on the Ford. But that’s missing the point of this pointless opinion piece.

Personally, I think Mini could go further by targeting its entry-level model at the under 25s, offering free telematics-based insurance and other incentives to get them behind the wheel. In a few years, they might want to ‘upgrade’ to a Sport, Cooper or JCW, but I suspect they’ll be having too much fun in the One Classic to even notice.

Still want that Nurburgring special, etc, etc?

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