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Fun factor still in grown-up MINI 

I CHANGED the driving mode to sport in my test car and up flashed ‘maximum go-kart feel’ on the large circular display.

Fortunately for MINI, I didn’t drive in the same fashion as I have on go-kart tracks as I tend to get into a lot of spins, collide with other drivers and also hit protective barriers quite a bit.

I drove my MINI Cooper S far more sensibly but did manage to have plenty of fun with it as well.

The MINI continues to evolve with the latest hatch models arriving on UK roads just a couple of months ago

It’s got slightly larger – 98mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller – but is still the smallest car in its segment.

This brings a little more interior room but adults could only be squeezed into the rear seats for short journeys as there isn’t a lot of legroom back there.

MINI buyers won’t be expecting a lot of boot capacity but this has been increased by 51 litres to 211 litres.

The new model’s looks haven’t changed too much but there have been significant improvements in technology that bring better engine efficiency and power delivery, driving dynamics and quality.

It is a more refined MINI but retails its fun-drive factor thanks to the super grip and road holding it possesses – and sparkling engine.

There is a new range of 1.5-litre three-cylinder power units available but I was driving a MINI Cooper S with a 192bhp 2-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet.

Capable of reaching 62mph in 6.8 seconds and offering a top speed of 133mph, this provided plenty of power.

I discovered that this MINI is as agile as ever with great cornering ability as I spun round some winding roads, moving up and down a slick six-speed manual gearbox.

Suspension improvements add to the driving pleasure, and ride comfort for such a small car was excellent, even on some potholed roads.

A driving modes selector makes its debut in the range offering a choice of sport, mid or green suspension settings.

Interior noise has been dampened so it does sit pretty quietly at motorway speeds and it’s also an ideal car for driving around town.

Parking a MINI shouldn’t be too much of a problem for most drivers so I thought the £590 park assistant pack option on the test car was totally unnecessary.

Fuel efficiency is also good – 49.6mpg combined, 61.4mpg extra urban and 37.2mpg urban.

The interior is typical MINI and changes include switches for electric windows being moved to a much better door position than the previous between front seats placing.

There’s a new instrument cluster on the steering column with speed, revs and fuel level displayed on vertically arranged circular dials.

The big central display shows vehicle functions, infotainment, navigation and other features, depending on the optional equipment chosen.

Keylessgo is now standard across the range and the start/stop toggle switch in the middle of the centre console features a heartbeat illumination that pulses before the engine is started. The increased standard specification includes electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, air-conditioning,door sill cover-strips with a model-specific inscription, front fog lamps, onboard computer, radio including aux-in, USB interface and Bluetooth.

Options also include MINI Connected which allows you to use social networks, including Facebook and Twitter as well as receiving RSS news feeds andother entertainment

The latest MINI range starts at £13,750 with the Cooper S priced at £18,650.

There are lots of options available to personalise your model with the test car having a whopping £8,915 worth of these.

The new top-quality arrival has lots of appealing features – and is certain to be just as popular with MINI lovers.