Whether you’re ready for it or not, it’s coming. Before we know it it’ll be here. MINI has announced they’ll be the first BMW brand to go fully electric in the early 2030s, writes Nick Ponting.
But before we get to that, let’s start at the beginning. Cast your mind back to 1959, where the average house price was a mere £2,000 and the original Mini rolled out with a price in its window of £497.
62 years later and 10,000,000 vehicles sold worldwide it’s fair to say this iconic brand has found a niche in the market, which resulted in most manufacturers trying to replicate their own versions of an exciting hot hatch.
This is the newest version of the current shape MINI Cooper S and at first glance, it does beg the question, what’s new? Less is more could have certainly be an appropriate MINI slogan over the years. There’s no denying from any angle this is still very obviously a MINI. The iconic shape and bulging circular head lights would give the game away to the most uninterested car enthusiast but there’s certainly more than meets the eye.
The first exterior feature you’ll notice is a wider and more purposeful front bumper. It gives the MINI a stance it hasn’t had in the current generation. We’ve got used to a curvaceous body but these new angles really transform the front end. On the Cooper S and JCW versions you get a race-style diffuser at the back, running either side of the centrally mounted twin exhaust. Black replaces chrome on the headlight surround and finally a ‘global first’, according the MINI, is the optional multi-tone roof. Hand-painted, a wet-on-wet paint process where each and every roof is unique. Apart from other minor changes the exterior remains very similar.
The price list is relatively unchanged across the range with the three-door hatch starting at £16,045 and the five-door £16,745. Jump to the JCW range and by time you’re selecting all the popular options you could find yourself well over £30,000.
Getting behind the wheel and out on the road, the MINI provides all the usual entertainment and joy that you’d expect. Not much has changed and if you closed your eyes (not advisable) you’d be pushed to tell the difference between this and the previous version. The biggest technical change and available for the first time in the MINI range is the all-new adaptive suspension. A system which reduces damper forces by up to 50 per cent within 50 to 100 milliseconds. The brand has always been well known for its go-kart feel, yet this aims to naturally balance the feel of comfort, agility and sportiness. To me and you it’s simply a system which adapts to the condition of the road by opening and closing valves quicker than you can comprehend, to make for a more enjoyable driving experience.
The MINI Cooper has matured over the years into a modern day version of its predecessor. Much like me sat here writing this, it has put on some weight, it looks wider but most importantly it’s trying, and succeeding, to be trendy.