MINI is a sports car which evokes a load of emotions from the enthusiasts and the general public all alike, and is considered as the Icon of British sports car. The cute little beast debuted in 1959 broke many established rules of the sports car and defined a few of its own, and went ahead to become one of the most successful sports cars ever made.
The success and the following of MINI was so high that in 1999, MINI was voted as the second most influential car of 20th century (the first was Ford Model T), trumping other icons like VW Beetle, Porsche 911, Citroen DS, etc.
A Bit of History
MINI was designed originally by Sir Alec Issigonis and was manufactured in England, under British Motor Corporation. Though Sir Issigonis envisioned MINI as a car for the common man, his friend, the tuning legend John Cooper found the potential in MINI to become a sports car and he along with Issigonis created the sports iteration of MINI – the MINI Cooper – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S became rally legends and won almost all the rallies they entered, across the world.
While the MINI was acquired by BMW, many skeptics believed that BMW will kill the soul of original MINI and will churn out bloated products – but to the surprise of many, BMW retained the essential characteristics and reinvented the MINI.
The car retained the classic design and the iconic bulldog stance, but under the skin, the car had undergone a host of changes and became an amalgam of sporty character and luxury. The MINI retained the front engine, front wheel drive layout and the incredibly direct, go-kart like feeling to drive, though the car has grown both in size and weight, partially to meet new norms and partially to address the new market.
Even though the weight of the car was increased, it was offset by addition of much powerful engines, which added to the fun factor of driving the MINI.
One look and you can unmistakably feel the influence of original MINI on the design of the current generation MINI. The MINI designs are always EVOLUTIONARY THAN REVOLUTIONARY and works well with the whole retro themed design concept. The longer wheelbase has lent MINI a sleek silhouette, which will be appreciated by many.
The car is bigger than the previous MINI – the new MINI is measured at 3,850mm x 1,727mm x 1,414mm (LxBxH), with the wheelbase at 2,495mm (an increase of 28mm over previous generation), and is based on the BMW's UKL platform.
There are not much design changes from the previous generation, the headlamps are redesigned but still have that familiar chrome strip around them, while the projector lights are standard, you can opt for LED headlamps and cornering lights, if you desire.
The front is dominated by the imposing single grill with the familiar thick chrome border, and the air intakes are repositioned and redesigned – now they are bigger and more rectangular and add to the sporty look of the car.
The car rides on 16-inch alloys (optional 17-inchers are available) and sports LED tail lights. The new model loses some of the chrome bits surround the reflector and the strip above the number plate are now clad in black instead of chrome. The muscular beauty retains the centrally mounted twin exhaust pipes that are exclusive to Cooper S.
The cabin and the interiors are finished in premium materials and oozes quality. The cabin extrudes a sporty air and the first thing you will notice is that the instrument console is moved back to the default position – behind the steering wheel – from the center mounted position of the previous generation MINI.
The circular theme of previous generation is toned down – though there is an abundance of circular objects, the designers have used other geometrical forms to break the monotony. The speedometer and tachometer are housed in circular pods that are mounted on steering column, which moves with the steering when you adjust the steering – neat touch.
The body hugging sport front seats comes with an array of adjustments that will satisfy most of the target audience. The seat is adjustable for height and under thigh support. The cherry on top of the cake – the steering wheel – is a meaty unit, feels good to hold and is of perfect size.
It is wrapped in leather and houses switches for cruise control, voice commands, telephone and audio controls. The steering offers reach and rake adjustment. The dashboard is finished in soft touch materials and the quality is top notch. The power window switches are now moved to the conventional position and are positioned on the door pads. All the switchgears are laid out ergonomically and are made out of high quality materials. The center console houses some extremely cool toggle switches (including the one for engine start stop).
The MINI gains a 6.5-inch centrally mounted infotainment system, housed in a circular pod. The multimedia controller is placed low down, usually where you expect to see the handbreak lever. Though not a touchscreen, the unit offers excellent readability and is easy to navigate.
The cabin is bathed in ambient lighting and you can choose from an array of 13 shades. The car can accommodate 4 adults and their luggage with ease now, especially with the bigger cargo area and the 60:40 split seats at rear.
The car comes with multiple driving modes – there is a 'GREEN' mode when you want to pussyfoot around and you are in the mood to burn some rubber, there is the sport mode to aid you. Leaving the selector ring at mid position, let MINI chooses the best mode automatically.
You can connect your smartphone to the car and facilitate a host of features – the MINI CONNECT features many apps to make your life on the road easier. The MINI Streetwise allows you to keep a check on your MINI using your smartphone and offers a host of vital information at your fingertips.
The central infotainment system houses a navigation unit that has some nifty features like speed limit info, green route option, etc. You can add the optional Heads up Display that projects the details about your journey onto a retractable screen, placed in your field of vision so that you can read all the info without taking eyes off the road. The car also has interactive LEDs that can be programmed to change colors when certain events take place.
BMW has equipped the MINI with a wide array of passive and active safety features. The car sports driver assist systems like city collision mitigation system, forward collision warning and speed limit info and traffic sign memory that warns you about the change in speed limits. MINI is also equipped with an active pedestrian protection system and a video assisted adaptive cruise control. The headlights feature digital high beam assist that makes night driving effortless.
The car is loaded with dual front, side, curtain and knee airbags and comes with run flat tyres so that you are never inconvenienced by a puncher.
The Cooper S comes with a turbo charged 2.0-liter petrol engine, which outputs a maximum of 189bhp and 280Nm of power and torque, respectively. The Cooper D, on the other hand, is powered by a 1.5-liter Twin power Turbo diesel unit, which outputs a peak 116bhp and 270Nm of power and torque, respectively. Both the engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic tranny, and boasts lighting fast gear shifts.
The Cooper D starts at 31.9 Lakhs INR ex-showroom and comes with a host of customization options and 11 exterior shades to choose from. There is a dedicated accessory line from MINI, which can be used to make your MINI stand out from the crowd, just the way you would like it to be.