MINI isn’t mini anymore – you don’t have to hunt on forums for long to find this grumble.
Indeed not: the current hatchback is 3699mm, which is far larger than the original. Just as, well, a Ford Mondeo is 4788mm long, whilst the first Cortina was 4274mm (and 300mm narrower!).
It’s also true to say the fact Mini was frozen in a 1959 mould for 50 years, rather than developed and progressed along with its peers, accentuates this impression of big bones.
However, MINI designer Gert Hildebrand explains part of it actually IS an impression. ‘Our cars always look bigger in photos, due to their rounded shapes.’
The bulbous lines and details of MINI appear disproportionate in shots. ‘This is why we always try to get relativity in images – another car, a person, and so on.’
French makers love getting beach ball-wielding people in images for traditional reasons. MINI does too, but it seems the reasoning is a bit more purposeful.
There are other tricks to make it look smaller too, though. ‘Wheel-to-body relation is important. This is why we have 5 Series sized wheels on a MINI! Big wheels make a bigger car look smaller. The wheel is an important factor.
‘Front overhang is also important – for the MINI, it should be as short as possible. It’s much more expensive to package mechanical components here, but the MINI’s front overhang proportions are unique and have to be retained.
‘Besides,’ adds Hildebrand, ‘it also has benefits for the chassis guys.’ It’s not often designers and engineers find themselves united, but the need to retain mini-ness seems to have achieved that here (even if there may still be a division over wheel size).
Certainly, it’s a better solution than only selling MINIs in black. Or, Gok Wan, does this only make people slimmer?