2015 Mini Cooper S: Mini evolved
There's an all-new Mini out this year, the third since BMW revitalised the brand at the turn of the century. As is now the norm with these things, people are quite down on it, but I think they're missing the point.
When I was young my Dad used to rave about his Minis. He used to tune them, race them (legally or not, he never let on) and generally loved them. I was told tales of their brilliance, ease of modification and frugality. I was also told that crashing one would be a bad idea because your legs are crumple zones. Still, I grew up loving the Mini. As did, I'll wager, many other people in the UK.
When the 'new' Mini came out as the millennium began, my old man wasn't all that keen. He thought it was too German, too big and not Mini enough. He wasn't alone in that, either, as countless grumpy baby-boomers started reminiscing from the cockpits of their Audis.
However, I only hear stories of these wonder cars. I only knew of their brilliance thanks to second-hand stories from people who owned them when they were kids themselves. Rose-tinted glasses are great, aren't they?
The new Mini, for me and many like me, wasn't too big, too German or 'not Mini enough', because for us it's pretty right. It's still smaller than the cars it competes with. It's quick, handles well, and is, like its forbear, classless. Anyone can drive a Mini anywhere and it won't be out of place. Yet every time a new Mini comes along, the bores fly out of their holes and start shouting about it. Again.
To them, the new car is an affront to their dreams. It's some abomination that crawled from the depths and took a steaming dump on their childhood home. It's crime? Being bigger, safer and quicker than the car whose look it modernised. How very dare it.
The 'proper' Mini has a place in history, it's the car that mobilized a nation and it's a design classic. One day I hope to have one in my garage (but considering they're £15,000 for a non-Cooper, it may be a while) as it's a very special car indeed. But to blast the new one, the car that for many 'is' Mini? That's a bit silly, really...