In today’s constantly evolving vehicle market that presents many new vehicles with modern shapes, it is fascinating to see some innovative manufacturers, who look nostalgically to the past for inspiration, in the hope of making the ultimate vehicle.
In this area, I believe BMW have done a magnificent job of recreating the lovable Mini. It’s hard to believe that the Mini is fifty years old this year, a long time, yet still so appealing. Over the years, the mini has grown in size and stature but has not lost the overall perspective or charm of the original. The safety features have also increased from the original version, which came with seat belts!
So what’s new? Well, on closer inspection you will notice the subtle changes both inside and out that give the vehicle a fresh new fun look.
In convertible guise the vehicle loses the floating roof of the hardtop, but then stands out so much more when the roof is dropped. Inside, you are welcomed by a host of chrome accessories and a very well crafted and proportioned steering wheel. The oversized speedometer takes a bit of getting used to, especially when driving in town, as you must look to your left to confirm the speed you are travelling. One also needs to get used to the placement of electric windows and central locking, which is located in the centre drop-down panel. This movement of controls and loads of chrome give the vehicle a very modern look and feel, almost like you’re in a hi-tech future vehicle. Like all modern things, you need to make sure that you “winzip” all your luggage or forget taking it with you, or I suppose you could mail it to your destination. I guess you can always drop the rear seats that can give you additional storage. Bear in mind please that this is a two plus two, which means two adults with two kids or adults with no legs! On a more serious note, you can fit four adults for shorter trips albeit not very spaciously.
There is ample headroom front and back so you won’t feel claustrophobic, and if that’s not enough you can always lower the top, making the sky your headliner. The soft top roof is well insulated from both wind and rain. A great advantage of the soft top is the front opening of the roof, which makes for a sunroof that can be created while driving at almost any speed. However, if you would prefer to have the full roof open, you can either come to a stop or drive at a speed no faster than 30 km/h. This is quite an advantage, as you can open or close the roof between traffic lights.
The “S” version adds a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection to the already potent 1.6 litre engine, akin to adding “Red Bull” to your coffee. On the road, the vehicle is an absolute blast to drive. Just put your foot on the gas padel and aim the steering wheel. The piece de résistance of the Mini was definitely the quick take off plus the rollercoaster cornering, further enhanced by the open top.
If you do decide to purchase this vehicle, you will always be reminded of how long you have had the roof down, thanks to the “open roof” gauge, which keeps track of the number of hours you have so driven.
In summary, if you like street cred and enjoy being the envy of all, but only have one close friend or partner, then this is a sure winner especially with the Chilli pack and those all-new mag wheels. A definite test drive for the holidays. Let the fun begin!
Car courtesy of BMW SA.
Azim Omar CA(SA)