Look twice, and a third time if you have to. This is a brand-new car, a new generation of Mini even trainspotters may struggle to pick as anything other than a British-branded hatch built some time in the last several years.
But the third-generation Mini does have a number of key stylistic changes both inside and out that cloak its all-new underpinnings.
Mini accurately describes the car's styling as "evolutionary" with new headlights and LED taillamps at either end of a body that is now 98 millimetres longer, 44 millimetres wider and seven millimetres higher than its predecessor.
Mini assures us that the new model will retain the outgoing car's "go-kart" handling despite its growth in size.
Designers have done away with the ergonomically challenged, centrally-mounted speedo in favour of a conventional intrument in the driver's eyeline. while in some models it will be augmented by a nifty heads-up display.
A plate-sized central display has been retained for use with audio and climate control systems as well as optional extras such as satellite navigation or a reversing camera.
Mini says there is more room in the interior thanks to a wheelbase stretched by 34mm, along with an extra 51 litres of cargo capacity at the tail end.
The big change is under the bonnet, where the Cooper S' 1.6-litre motor has made way for a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit that makes 141kW and 300Nm, along with claimed fuel use of less than 6.0L/100km.
Drivers looking to save fuel would be better off with the standard Cooper, which now has a three-cylinder 1.5-litre motor that uses less than 5.0L/100km and makes 100kW and 220Nm. The real star in the economy stakes is the diesel-sipping Cooper D, which produces 85kW and 270Nm while using as little as 3.5L/100km, which is better than Toyota's hybrid Prius.
-Fairfax News Australia
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