The New Original
July 4, 2014
The new version of the iconic Mini boasts superb road handling and is more spacious and better equipped than before. And it is as desirable as its predecessors.
Some cars have become automotive icons that have shaped the development of motoring. In the United States, one such car was the Model T Ford, in Germany the Volkswagen Beetle, in Italy the Fiat 600, and in Britain the Mini Morris.
The Mini Morris brand belonged to the British Motor Corporation and was also marketed under the name Austin in 1959-2000. The car was designed by Alec Issigonis. The aim was to create a small but practical city car. Despite its small external dimensions, the Mini had a relatively spacious passenger cabin. Due to its boxy shape and large wheelbase, the car was surprisingly roomy. The engine was mounted cross-wise, thanks to which it took up little space under the hood. With its small weight and low center of gravity, the car was great fun to drive. The racing version of the Mini was called the Mini Cooper.
In 1994, BMW bought the financially troubled brand. Six years later, the corporation decided to revive the Mini, preserving the original design, but using its own technology. The car proved to be a hit. Since 2001, three generations of the Mini have hit the market, each version larger and more advanced technologically than its predecessor.
In photographs, the new Mini looks a bit like a small metal toy car. In fact, it has large 18” wheels, and the three-door body is 3,821 mm in length, 1,727 mm in width, and 1,414 mm in height. At first glance, the Mini makes you think of its famous predecessor: the same distinctive body shape and the same proportions.
As in the original Mini, the interior is reasonably spacious, at least for a city car. Thanks to the 2,495 mm wheelbase, there is plenty of room on the front seats, but getting in the back requires acrobatic skills; and there’s only enough room there for two passengers. The trunk is only 211 liters, but this marks an improvement over the 160 l in the previous version. In reality the car, though larger than the previous generation, can comfortably carry only two people.
The greatest pleasure comes from driving the Mini. Few other city cars can give the driver so much fun. Standout features include an original dashboard with a huge onboard computer display; a very comfortable position behind the wheel; top-quality finishing materials; excellent visibility in all directions; good suspension; direct steering; a precise six-speed transmission; and a responsive engine. In fact, the Mini feels like a go-cart to drive: pure pleasure.
The Mini’s modern 1.5 l/136 hp turbocharged gasoline engine has only three cylinders, but is up to the job. Its torque of 220Nm in the 1,250-4,000 rpm range makes it possible to accelerate the 1,085 kg car from standstill to 100 kph in 7.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 210 kph. The engine is not only responsive, but also economical. While fuel consumption during the test-drive was higher than promised by the producer, 6.2 l/100 km versus 4.5 l/100 km on average, it was still reasonable. Another advantage of this engine is that it works smoothly.
The car is a combination of English style and BMW’s German technology. This has made it possible to revive the legendary brand and make the new Mini one of the most attractive cars on the road. Since 2001, more than 1.8 million Minis have been sold.