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Mini has treated its hatchback range to a refresh for its 20th anniversary.
A light update coinciding with the BMW Mini's 20th anniversary yields a few pleasant surprises.
Standard equipment on Sport Nav:
17in John Cooper Works black alloy wheels, piano black exterior trim, John Cooper Works aerodynamic kit and roof spoiler, John Cooper Works sport seats with Dinamica/cloth upholstery in carbon black, John Cooper Works door sill finishers, anthracite headlining, ambient lighting, cruise control with brake function, drive mode selection, Intelligent Adaptive Suspension, rear
parking sensors, LED headlights, air conditioning, driver and passenger seat height adjustment, Connected Driver services.
Mini's ever popular hatchback range is now in its eighth year since production of the third-generation model began in 2013.
This generation has perhaps been the most effective at maintaining interest, with the launch of the first five-door Mini following the three-door's arrival and a few significant updates along the way, perhaps the most noticeable being the adoption of a Union Jack rear light design a couple of years ago.
Mini is not quite ready to introduce a fourth-generation model yet, and to mark the occasion of the 20th anniversary of production of the BMW-owned model at its Cowley plant, the Hatch range has undergone a few celebratory updates.
These are probably most obviously manifested in the Sport equipment grade, which has added some distinguishing design details, including some from the John Cooper Works accessory line.
And while Mini's so-called 'go-kart' feel on the road holds a great deal of appeal for many, the Sport version includes an adaptive suspension system that aims to smooth out the most jarring of bumps in the ride.
Attention seekers might also be interested in a three-colour roof specification, where one colour subtly blends into the next across the exterior roof panel. Mini says it started the trend of offering two-tone cars with a different paint colour on the roof, and it seems to have set out a challenge for rivals to match. Talking of matches, any paint repairs needed through damage during the vehicle's life might also be a challenge for a body shop.
Driver information in the car's instrument binnacle is now digital, with the infotainment housed in the central screen. A strip of LED lights around the dashboard screen lights up progressively as the car accelerates in homage to the original Mini's central speedometer, and also illuminates when the volume is adjusted on the audio system.
On the road, the Mini is still pointy and fun, but the effect of the adaptive dampers over bumps on the surface is noticeable and a welcome improvement. It doesn't give the car a magic carpet ride, but it certainly disguises bumps that would send a jolt through the cabin in previous versions (and we suspect on a standard specification Classic, where the system is not fitted).
Performance from the turbocharged 136hp 1.5 petrol engine in the Cooper is respectably brisk, and the Mini is as engaging to drive as it ever was. The good news for fleet operators is that running costs are still modest on these well-equipped models (bullish pricing is partly because of all the kit as standard), and a Mini is still proved to be a rational a small car addition to a fleet, as well as a desirable model for drivers.