It’s as British as a roast dinner on a Sunday afternoon and has found its way into the garages of some of the most famous faces to walk the earth. The Mini has been around for 55 years and you’d struggle to name something else which has has such an impact on the motoring world. Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis in 1959, the Mini – or MINI as it’s now known – is in its third-generation since the icon was rebranded back in 2001 by BMW. It’s spawned countless variants and model derivatives, but in any flavour its eternally loveable. We take a look at past and present and cover some of the biggest changes the Mini has faced.
When conceived back in 1959 the Mini was a revelation in terms of design. The front-wheel drive, front-engine layout meant 80 per cent of the car’s floorplan could be utilised for passengers and their luggage. It’s a design that was immediately copied and can still be seen in the cars we buy today. Visually, the Mini looked like nothing else at the time, with four wheels pushed as far as possible into the corners, curvaceous panels and chrome trim. The modern day MINI is just as recognisable, adopting the classic styling cues but on a bigger scale. Truth be told, there isn’t anything ‘mini’ about the current model. But advancements in design and technology have meant there are a whole host of personalisation features available for the latest model, from unique paintjobs to bespoke interior trim, so you can add to the car’s undeniable charm.
Perhaps the biggest change the mini has faced in its 55 years is the world that surrounds it. Technology has evolved at a rate some of us have struggled to keep up with and depending on which way you look at it, the Mini has fallen victim of such change. The most technologically advanced feature on the original was the simplistic but hugely effective suspension setup up. In today’s world that suspension arrangement is like comparing a notepad to an iPad. Techy features on the 2014 MINI include additions like, traction control, adjustable damper, voice command and satellite navigation. But technology has also made the MINI a much safer car for the people inside and around it. A collision in the original model could have been fatal, regardless of speed, while the latest iteration will alert you about an imminent collision and automatically take action to avoid such a thing happening.
There are fewer involving and pure driving experiences than can be found from behind the wheel of the original Mini. So basic was the concept of the car, there was nothing to hamper or dilute what was on offer. Even though when launched, a miserly 848cc engine was offered it was enough to keep you entertained. The lightweight construction of the Mini made it appear a lot more powerful than it actually was. 55 years later and the engine you’ll find under the latest generation model couldn’t be any different. A new generation of 1.5-litre three-cylinder engines have been designed from scratch and are among the most efficient motors you can currently buy today, offering great performance and without sacrificing economy. If performance is top of your list, you’re well catered for as there’s a 190bhp 2.0-litre engine is fitted to the most powerful model.
The journey of the Mini has been more of an evolution than revolution. And for some people that’s not what they want from a car. They want something new and original, something that hasn’t been done before but to tamper with an icon such as the Mini would have never been fitting. Even 55 years on, the trademark design cues and features are still there. How many other cars can you say that about?
Categories: Hot Hatch