BMW Mini Cooper Driven

Retro Cars
This is no the way

The team who created the modern day BMW Mini Cooper certainly exploited every possibly styling cue from the original. But did they also capture the essence of Mini to create a future classic? Well despite the shamelessness of the daylight robbery that clearly took place in the design office back then, we think they may have done just that.

It must be annoying if you are into original Mini’s to watch BMW exploit every last little feature in each model they launch. The letterbox windscreen, distinctive grill, curvy front wheel arches, completely flat side glass, chrome toggle switches and oversized centrally mounted speedo. Not to mention the Cooper, Cooper S and Traveller brands, everything has been re-used. Surely there cannot be anything else left to copy?

This is now in many ways a distraction because the fact is the modern day BMW Mini Cooper is a fantastic car in its own right. Whether it would have had such amazing success had they not gone down the retro route is not clear. For one it is still completely classless, suiting everyone who gets in and out. The go-kart handling really hits the mark if the optional ‘Sport’ button is pressed. It even retains its fighting spirit and the twin cam motor in this car is a real screamer when you wind it up, combining well with the super sweet handling to provide a very enjoyable and exploitable package.

BMW Mini Cooper
BMW’s Mini Cooper not only looks like the original, it also captures its spirit

On the right road and in the right conditions you might even embarrass Porsche drivers, all while only momentarily dipping below 50mpg. Not bad for a car still built in Britain, to extremely high standards, with equally strong residuals, inclusive servicing, competitive finance and open friendly dealerships who serve you real coffee or a real can of coke out of a real American fridge. The whole experience is completely sewn up.

If I were nit picking I’d ask why you can’t ever get hold of the front seat belts after you closed the doors. Ask why you have to remove the key to open the fuel filler or passenger door, which then switches off the stereo your passengers were still listening to.  Why you have to get it serviced one month based on mileage and then return it the following month for another based on age. Or why the speedo is so big and why it is there at all when there is a perfectly good digital readout within the much better positioned rev counter. I could go on, but I digress.

BMW Mini Cooper
Modern Mini Cooper reduced to it’s original size (Pictures: Ashleigh Nichols)

Internally the BMW Mini Cooper is best regarded as a 2+2 with a tiny boot. It will seat four, but it is a squeeze. With two on board the luggage space is easily extended by dropping the rear seats to create enough room for a couple of cases, no problem. The BMW Mini Cooper will cruise effortlessly on the motorway all day with hardly any wind or road noise and comes with a fantastic stereo. When you do return to single tracks you can press the optional Sport button and have some real cross-country fun.

As painful as it might sound to some, the modern day BMW Mini Cooper is right on the money to be a future classic capturing the very heart and soul of the original. It was also great fun to pilot around the Autosolo course set up by Bristol Motor Club in the Castle Combe Circuit paddock area during the Stroke Association Supercar Saturday event.

How does this car make you feel?

In one word: Fearless

As a favourite meal: Prawn Vindaloo

Anything Else: BMW can let the retro styling go now, this car is good enough to stand on its own two feet.

Key Ingredients: Superb engine and handling

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About Matt Nichols 142 Articles
Matt is serving a self imposed lifetime ban from owning and maintaining a classic car himself, after several failed projects. The question is, how long will that last in reality and will he crack in 2013...

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