Ah Mini. A brand synonymous with bouncing blonde lasses the world over. Or brunettes. With big shades, high pony tails and the smallest backsides the world did ever see. Fine, I might be generalising, but only because I never fit that Mini mould. Even if did, when I was younger and looking for a car, I was too defiant to want to drive a Mini. I wanted something different, something unique, something no one else had…a Volkswagen Citi Golf (cue the eye roll). It’s strange to think that I never ever had a soft spot for Mini. My friends did, my colleagues did and all still do in fact. I never quite understood it. They drove like go-karts, were impractical and portrayed a “I’m too cool for school” image. How wrong I have been, hey?! They still drive like go-karts mind you, but that’s part of the appeal, I have come to understand.
There is no denying that as we look at the new Mini we have witnessed the evolution of a legend. Just think, in the year 2 000, the last ever original Mini rolled off the production line and in strolled the Mini as we know it today. With five core models on offer, there is now a Mini for every type of person. It is no longer just for the single and sassy, it now appeals to men, to adults, to parents, to families. And the brand continues to grow from strength to strength. Last year saw just over 2 000 units sold here in South Africa, this year has already seen 1049 units sold and it’s only July.
Enter the face-lifted 3rd generation Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S. You might not notice too much on the outside, a part from the rather cool and quirky Union Jack rear headlamps, but inside you will see a bit more nip and tuck. We are starting to see a lot more of the tech we usually find in a BMW trickling down in to the Mini brand. Especially when it comes to Mini Connected, new features include Real Time Traffic Information, the personal Concierge Service and the vehicle internet portal Mini Online with news, weather and fuel price overview. There is also an optional preparation for Apple CarPlay. And we see a new multifunction steering wheel hit the range. You will also notice the new Mini logo on these updated models.
The 1.2-litre 75 kW three-cylinder petrol engine that powered the Mini One now boasts a 1,5 litre with 190 N.m of torque. A new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission joins the line up as an alternative to the standard six-speed manual transmission. The Cooper model engine line-up remains unchanged with its 1,5-litre turbo-triple with 100 kW and 220 N.m. And the Cooper S still sports a 2,0-litre turbo-four which produces 141 kW and 280 N.m.
Having spent the day driving around the Cape Peninsula, I am reminded why Mini is so popular. They are an absolute hoot to drive, especially the Cooper S. I still wouldn’t see myself owning one, the ride is too firm for these ageing kidneys and I need to avoid anything that will accelerate the boob-drooping process. But, I can certainly see the appeal of owning such an icon.
Mini sets itself a part by being a premium brand that offers customers exactly what they want. The customisation options are endless, just check out the MiniYours site and see for yourself. It’s a brand that appeals to the creatives among us. Ideas, inspiration and passion – this remains the brand strategy and even if I still do not fit the Mini mould, I can see why so many others do.
PRICING FOR THE NEW MINI LINE-UP
Mini One Hatch 3-door: R302 200
Mini One Hatch 3-door AT: R323 200
Mini Cooper Hatch 3-door: R370 300
Mini Cooper Hatch 3-door AT: R391 300
Mini Cooper S Hatch 3-door: R430 577
Mini Cooper S Hatch 3-door AT: R450 186
Mini John Cooper Works Hatch 3-door: R491 095
Mini John Cooper Works Hatch 3-door AT: R512 865
Mini One Hatch 5–door: R312 300
Mini One Hatch 5–door AT: R333 300
Mini Cooper Hatch 5–door: R380 400
Mini Cooper Hatch 5–door AT: R401 400
Mini Cooper S Hatch 5–door: R441 057
Mini Cooper S Hatch 5–door AT: R459 780
Mini Cooper Convertible: R423 200
Mini Cooper Convertible AT: R444 200
Mini Cooper S Convertible: R496 836
Mini Cooper S Convertible AT: R515 559