TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
- You can buy those classic Mini looks for about $2000 cheaper while the drive-away deal hangs around
- The ride on the 15-inch steel wheels with their high-profile sidewall tyres is pretty good for a traditionally hard-riding Mini
- The interior smacks of premium quality, with decent fit and finish around the cabin, and decent and tactile switchgear
- No-cost styling package adds pink, yellow or green highlights to the wing mirrors, black bonnet stripes and under the doors, giving the car a huge lift visually
- Auto does a good job of keeping the hard-working 1.2-litre engine on the boil
- Reversing sensors help you feel less nervous about reversing the Ray, as rearward vision is somewhat limited
- While the ride is good, there is a lot of road roar from the tyres over coarse-chip roads that are common in Australia
- The Hankook Kinergy tyres fitted to the 15-inch steel wheels on the Mini Ray are also relatively low-grip. Do a U-turn and they will squeal in protest even at low speeds.
- The steel wheels are covered with plastic hubcaps, making the Ray look cheap. Alloys would be better visually
- The 75kW three-cylinder engine performs well when it is revving hard, but while you’re idling at the traffic lights or taking off slowly it vibrates noticeably
- The Ray is the only Mini to miss out on passenger-seat height adjustment
- Everything is manual. There’s no set-and-forget for the air-conditioning, if it rains you have to switch on the wipers, and if it gets dark you have to switch on the lights. On almost all other Minis, these chores are automatic
- The Ray is locked out of a number of optional packages that would make it a lot more liveable for an everyday commute
- On paper, the base Mini Cooper looks better value, rounding out to about $31,000 drive-away. The difference in equipment levels between it and the Ray make the cheaper Mini look over-priced
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
As prices for premium cars rise, the prices of posh ones fall. That brings the Audi A1 1.0 TFSI, priced from $28,250, into contention as a genuine Mini rival. It boasts a punchy 1.0-litre engine giving good fuel efficiency, and strong handling and refinement even on its base suspension. However, there’s no reversing camera and it is still hardly cheap.
The $21,000 Fiat 500 Lounge is a smaller alternative that tries to make the most of its boxy exterior. It rides a bit harshly, and prices jumped by $2000 earlier this year, so in terms of value for money it is what it is.
Hyundai will sell you a quirky, suicide-doored-but-only-on-one-side Veloster Plus coupe for $29,490. However, while its drive experience is somewhat on par with the Mini’s lack of low-down oomph, the cabin aesthetics aren’t the same. Renault, meanwhile, will happily sell you a Clio GT Premium for $29,900. It’s the most conventional of the premium car choices here, but looks good inside and out and comes with a perky turbo engine.