The new "Mini"

I have not kept touch lately. Back in the 80’s I went to Europe and saw lots of them. I learned they were quite popular outside the U.S… Including Japan. I got to ride in one. A cheap, no frills simple little car that made a lot of sense. Not having kept in touch with what happened to the “Austin” line of British Leyland, or with British Leyland, I was surprised the “Mini” was coming back. I never thought it left.

Doesn’t surprise me. It was likely the only popular selling British Leyland car left back then. And cheap cars don’t make the profits the pricey ones do. I had heard that parts of BL were bought by Ford or GM. I think BMW now has the “Mini” name. Give me an update. What’s up with the “Mini”?

You’re right, the first mini cooper I ever saw firsthand was in Japan. In a tiny fishing village even. It was immaculate!

The updated Mini was reissued in Britain just a couple of weeks ago.

They did to it just what Volkswagen did to the beetle, they screwed it up. I saw a video segment on the new Mini on CNN and it looks horrible, it has none of the charm of the old models.

[cult nostalgia]

Ah, the Minis in The Italian Job - perfect.

[/cult nostalgia]

You’re quite right - BMW now own the right to the “Mini” brand, and are the manufacturers of the new car.

I’ll state now that I’m prejudiced. I used to race the old Mini Cooper, and to this day still rank it as being one of the best, bang for buck, fun drivers cars ever built. It’s handling was ridiculously good - low mass and it’s “wheel at each corner” design really did mean it cornered like it was on rails. It’s charm was in it’s simplicity, lack of thrills and timeless design.

The new Mini is everything you’d expect from BMW. It is a well built car, with good handling, tasteful trim, air bags…in other words another decent enough small car, with no particular individuality to it. In terms of fun to drive, even the new “Cooper” variant is dull compared to the original. This should come as no big surprise though when you look at the ridiculous number of “Drivers aids” the car has - ABS, EBD, DSC…wtf?

Having taken the new mini for a test drive recently I can only say that it is quite boring.
It is, as Gary says, everything you would expect from BMW.
But it is also a blan car…and having the speedo parked in the center and not in front of you is also very annoying.

It corners well, handles well, drives well and basically has lost the appeal of the old deathtraps of yore!

And considering the starting price is around £10,000 to £12,000 it’s a whole lot of money for a car which can easily be beaten by many other cheaper cars.

Stories ran in the media in the UK this week state that some people are even bidding £3,000 over the asking price just to get their hands on one - which is just plain ludicrous.