The Mini has always been and perhaps always will be a quintessentially British icon. Even though it is under German ownership now, the image of the Mini is still the same. The Germans have only served to improve build quality.
The Mini Cooper that I got to drive belonged to a cousin of mine. Iíve always eyed it jealously every time thereís a family gathering. And it comes as a big surprise that heíd let me keep it for awhile while heís overseas for a trip.
The Cooperís exterior is preppy and retro at the same time. Hardly do car manufacturers get the ďretro lookĒ right. The biggest boo boo I can remember is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Sorry Chrysler, it looks bad, IMHO. But back to the Mini, itís stylish and refreshing to see and be seen in. It does this whole having both genders in the car design thing really well. That is to say that the design of the car is neither leaning too much to the masculine side nor the feminine side. Itís a tough thing to do but the designers have got it just spot on.
The interior is quirky to say the least. Everything is placed everywhere based on some nutty designerís sense of aesthetics. The centrally placed speedometer does not work for me as Iíd have to take my eyes off the road just to look down and left at it. The knobs and buttons arenít really intuitive to use and neither are they user friendly even after some practice.
The seats are nice and supportive but this has got to be a two seater car. Why? Thatís because the rear seats are more like a torture chamber than a proper seat for a passenger. Iíd rather leave the rear seats down in the split/fold option to have a larger cargo space. Besides, who wants to lug around your friendís extra lard around?
Then we come to the ride. The legendary go-kart handling, nimble and sharp steering. You know what? Itís all true. Actually, the Mini feels more like a single roller coaster train carriage with an engine. It hammers through corners with aplomb much like how a roller coaster would slam your innards into the side wall while going through a corner. The only difference is that YOU get to steer the roller coaster. Nice.
The 120Bhp on tap is plenty enough to move so little weight. It can feel quite scary if youíre not used to the amount of shove that 120bhp can offer. 120bhp in a saloon car feels normal but in a car like the Mini, it is like shoving a rocket up your ass.
Itís fun. Itís small (easy to park) and itís fuel efficient! I average about 12km/l. Itís the perfect car if you donít want to move too many friends or cargo around.
Sharp handling behaviour
Sprightly attitude and performance