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MINI UK launches ‘starter’ 1499 GT limited edition. Image by MINI.

MINI UK launches ‘starter’ 1499 GT limited edition
Heritage paint scheme and badging, modern JCW looks for MINI’s 1499 GT special.
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What's this fun-looking MINI all about, then?

It's called the 1499 GT and, believe it or not, it's for youngsters.

You what? Looks like a John Cooper Works with stickers on it to me...

How perceptive of you. That's because the 1499 GT uses the bodykit of the JCW to give a sporty look to what is essentially a MINI One with a 102hp, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine. It's supposed to be top-level styling with low-level cost, which - along with some other perks - makes it the ideal car for a young MINI enthusiast to run.

OK, let's start from the beginning. Does the 1499 GT have anything to do with the old 1275 GT?

It does indeed. In the late 1960s, the Mini 1275 GT had a 60hp, enlarged 1,275cc engine that made it the supposed replacement for the Cooper, although its Clubman front end didn't win it widespread acclaim. This time around, the 1499 GT uses a 1,499cc engine (see the link now?), which is bigger than the One's 1.2-litre unit, and the same sort of side decals as the classic. Indeed, you can only have the 1499 GT in either Midnight Black with Gold stripes, or Pepper White with Black stripes. And only 1,499 examples will be made.

What else does it benefit from?

The full JCW bodywork, meaning the big front airdam, a split-level spoiler on the boot, side skirts and a chunkier rear bumper, as well as 17-inch Track Spoke alloys in black and sports suspension. Obviously, there's still a single tailpipe on one side at the back, given the modest engine up front, but the 102hp/180Nm turbo unit is torquey enough for a 0-62mph time of 10.1-seconds. The JCW theme continues within, where the Dinamica and leather bucket sports front seats and the Chili Red-stitched, perforated leather JCW wheel heighten the ambience. As you step into the 1499 GT, there are JCW kick plates too, plus more JCW logos scattered in the interior.

A multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, a Visual Boost radio with MINI Connected smartphone compatibility, Piano Black interior trim, an Anthracite headliner and Carbon Black interior details are all part of the kit list for the 1499 GT. This all builds on the standard One equipment and the final flourishes are privacy glass at the rear and white indicator lenses outside. No sign of a Clubman-esque nose restyle, though.

So how much is all this?

The 1499 GT, in production from November until February 2018, will cost £16,990. However, MINI Financial Services has come up with a tempting 48-month deal, which requires a £299 deposit and then monthly payments of £299 for the next four years. This includes MINI Ready Fuel Go, which means one year's free insurance and three years' worth of servicing costs covered. One caveat, though: no matter how rich you are, if you're 17-19 years old, you can't qualify for this, as you need to have held a licence for three years and have been a UK resident for at least two years. However, if you're 20 and in gainful employment that easily covers the £299 monthly fee, the MINI 1499 GT is one seriously cool set of wheels.

Matt Robinson - 11 Oct 2017

2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.

2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.2017 MINI 1499 GT. Image by MINI.    - MINI road tests
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