In 1988 the classic Mini was one of the first cars I ever road tested. A cult car, it was iconic, cool and a symbol of freedom.

More than 30 years on, BMW’s new Mini is more serious, vastly more sophisticated and, like me, is much heavier.

But despite putting on a few pounds, it still captures the passion, personality and pure excitement that made the classic Mini such a success and sums up motoring at its best.

Few cars genuinely possess the ability to make journeys memorable but the little Oxford-built car has been a world-beater since its launch in 2001 and the latest versions push ahead with cutting-edge design and technology.

That ranges from 4G connection allowing Internet links on the move and wireless smartphone charging, to options such as adaptive headlights that automatically adjust to deliver maximum brightness without dazzling oncoming drivers.

The latest models are easy to spot on the road thanks to brighter front and rear LED lights, with LED daytime running lamps and indicators forming a ring design that encircles the headlights.

A new Mini logo also made its appearance, alongside new body finishes and an increasing choice of alloy wheel designs. 

Inside there is a 6½-inch colour screen, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay that allows seamless connection of smartphones and a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel.

New features include real-time traffic alerts and the ability to draw on calendar entries and contact data entered in a smartphone to plan routes and determine the ideal time to set off.

A send-to-car function enables planned routes to be sent to the navigation system, while remote services allow you not just to display vehicle location, fuel level and other vehicle details on your smartphone but also activate the headlight flasher, horn, ventilation and door lock/unlock function.

In addition to the serious stuff comes plenty of fun, with new interior backlit surfaces and a Mini logo projection from the exterior driver's side mirror. There is even the option to design your own parts to customise the car

All this comes at a price and the Cooper S model driven here had an on-the-road price of £21,665, but add some optional packs and the total price tops £28,000.

But the Mini five-door hatch remains a winner with corporate drivers, having won the Best Compact SME Company Car at the 2018 Business Car Manager SME Company Car of the Year awards for the third consecutive year.
The combination of design, low running costs and competitive company car taxation rates continue to win plenty of friends in the business market. 
Power on the test car came from a 192 horsepower petrol unit that delivers sizzling acceleration and effortless cruising, while comfortably delivering fuel consumption in the mid-40s.

While the three-door hatch remains the car of choice for younger drivers, the five-door option remains a favourite for those less able, who do not relish the scramble into the rear seats.

Despite its name, the Mini offers ample cabin space for four adults, five at a squeeze, and a boot that is capable of carrying enough luggage for a weekend getaway.

But above all, it is the Mini’s combination of neat handling, engaging ride and sheer sense of fun that continues to make it a world-beater.

Auto facts

Model: Mini Cooper S 5dr

Price: £28,585 as tested

Insurance group: 26E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 45.6mpg

Top speed: 144mph

Length: 400.5cm/157.3in

Width: 172.7cm/67.8in

Luggage capacity: 9.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 9.6 gallons/44 litres

CO2 emissions: 141 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles