21 August 2014

South Africa: Mini Cooper - a Big Little Car


The third Mini generation to make its appearance since the British brand became part of the BMW stable may have grown in size (again), but in dynamic terms, it still epitomises the cheeky adolescence of the truly tiny original. Besides, its underpinnings are so good that they'll soon be shared by some BMW models ... DEON SCHOEMAN drives the enticingly chuckable, and highly entertaining, base-model Mini Cooper.

Of all the modern cars drawing their inspiration from classic originals, none have been as successful as the Mini.

Under the stewardship of BMW, the quintessentially British minicar has been resurrected as a modern, trendy hatchback, while retaining at least some of the charisma and quirkiness that distinguished the pioneering Sir Alec Issigonis design from its contemporaries.

Compared to that, first Mini, the modern iteration is almost gargantuan. It's lost the impossibly efficient packaging that allowed four adults to squeeze into Sir Alec's tiny box on wheels. In fact, this latest Mini is the largest yet, even though it remains a subcompact in the modern context.

At a glance, it doesn't look dramatically different to its predecessor. It's still chunky and cheeky, with the wheels planted at each corner, while the big headlights...

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