Blog : Don’t mention the MINI

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Sam Mace

r50tested_02

There are some subjects we should never talk about with friends. The saying ‘never discuss politics, sex or religion’ is true. Doing so can make otherwise amiable and easy going friends into angry, argumentative idiots in a few short sentences. This is because everyone has strong feelings about those things.

I thought pretty much everything else was a safe subject, even if you don’t know someone that well. So being a Petrolhead, the subject of cars is one that I use pretty much all the time. Everyone, from seventeen year old girls to old men will have something to say about them. Even ‘they bore me to tears’ is an opinion, and one that can lead to an interesting conversation (if you’re blessed with medium to good interpersonal skills). And you can’t turn a conversation about cars into a full on row. Can you?

It would seem, that you can. The readers of AROnline seem a friendly, rational bunch. Then that subject of the MINI rears its head and the cyber equivalent of a bar brawl breaks out. Digital glasses are thrown and binary teeth are knocked out.

I don’t know what it is about the MINI that makes heckles rise so much. I do know though, that people feel strongly about it. Oddly, I don’t have much of an opinion about the MINI. To me, it’s a slightly goofy, if cheerful looking hatchback. Maybe I feel indifferent about it because the original Mini never lit my candle.

So what do you think? Is the MINI a silly, ugly, overpriced little car no more worthy of the ‘MINI’ name than a 3-Series? Or is it a trendy, faithful reincarnation of Alec Issigonis’ original. Well, read the evidence submitted by Chief Inspector Frankie, and decide for yourself…

I’m leaving the other variations out (Paceman, Countryman etc) as far as I’m concerned, they’re an unfunny joke.

‘It’s not a real Mini’

The original Mini, rather like the soon-to-be-usurped Defender, was a car that refused to die for a long time. Why? Because like the Defender, people kept buying the things. Buyers were happy with its 1950s face, its low ride height and skinny pillars. But various times, plots were hatched to kill if off early in its 41 year life. Somehow, the Mini kept going right up until the new Millennium.

Even though I’m not a fan of it, I always give the Mini respect for carrying on so long unchanged. Sure, there was some nip and tuck here, some new graphics and wheel trims there, but it more or less stayed the same. To see what an achievement this is, imagine the original Golf (which was made much later, in 1974) still in production in 2000, driving out of show rooms in the UK.

Let’s think a little more AROnline orientated shall we? The Allegro is now 40. Imagine that still being sold brand new, with another year of production to go.

Back to the Golf. I don’t know for a fact, but I’ll happily bet my last can of John Smith’s on this, that the Golf MK1 does not share a single part in common, not even a bolt or screw, with the Mk7. And no-one goes around saying that the new product from VAG ‘isn’t a real Golf.’ It may have as much in common with the Mk1 Golf as I do with Paris Hilton, but it’s still a Golf.

The original Mini never went through the same process of gradual changing and updating, that nearly every other main stream production car has been through. The Golf is a prime example of this. Every few years, we see a new one, that seems barely tweaked from the last. But it’s a bit bigger. The lights are slightly different. It’s heavier. It’s a bit taller.

This goes on until you have something that is in no way at all like the original. Had the Mini gone through the same process, we’d probably end up with something very much like you-know-what.

Maybe the Mini would have morphed into the ‘MINI’ in due course anyway, without the influence of BMW.

‘It’s ugly and overpriced’

For a few quid under 12 grand, you can buy a MINI First. By mainstream new car standards, that’s cheap*. Before you leap down my throat and say ‘ah but think of what you could buy used with that’, we’re not thinking about used cars. We’re looking at the MINI as a brand new vehicle.

The Focus starts at around 14k, the new Golf, at just over 16k. The Golf does come with goodies like air con. The MINI First doesn’t. So if you can live without air con and alloys, 12 grand is a very agreeable price. You can spend almost £30,000 on the JCW GP. But if you have that sort of money to spend on a hatchback with no rear seats, will you care?

Now let us confront the elephant in the room – its looks. I’ve studied it with an impartial eye. I’ve decided it looks OK. Not great, but OK. Yes, the headlights are a bit bulbous and its anything but miniature. But look at the opposition: the new Civic to me looks like a melted Tomy remote control car, The new Focus looks dull, but fairly smart, as does the new Golf. In fact, I reckon the best looking cars out of the current crop of hatchbacks are the new Astra and Kia Rio. Compare them all and the MINI is the only product with any visual character.

But that’s just what I think. Looks are all down to opinion. But really, MINI don’t have much choice in how their hatchback looks. To keep the visual link between the Original Mini and BMW MINI can’t be easy. EU safety regs dictate how a car looks now, which is why we see high bumper lines and bloat in new cars. Buff fronted cars or narrow wedge noses are now a thing of the past…

*Did someone say Dacia?

‘Idiots drive them’

It has been said by some here that the MINI is a car exclusively for idiots. This isn’t a recent thing, and the same message can be seen on all things MINI related posted on the site. I will agree that the argument for buying Paceman is very shaky at best-but I’m talking about the MINI hatchback.

You can generalise about any car maker and its driver, but on AROnline, some really have given the ‘BINI’ a rough deal. We’ve seen the MINI being called a car for people who are ‘short in the grey matter’ to ‘retarded chav types’. Look through the comments on any MINI post here, and you’ll find that such opinions stem the car being perceived as overpriced. I’ll let you make your own mind up weather a new MINI overpriced or not.

After all, something is only worth what you think it’s worth. Don’t forget that many people see Rover SD1s and Citroen BXs etc as worthless junk. Good ones can change hands for a tidy sum of cash. And we love them. And just like the MINI, they’re not everybody’s cup of tea.

The latest variant of the MINI hatch though, the JCW GP is up against a lot of very competent competition. The new Honda Civic Type-R will be along shortly. It will give similar stats in a straight line, and crucially you should be able to put in on your drive for £23,000 (if you want to, that is).

The Focus ST-3 is also yours for 25 and a half k. Again, if you’re into your straight lines and stats, they’re pretty much the same story.

So, the hot MINI is the most expensive of those three. But does choosing one make you stupid? I know it’s silly to buy a car with your heart and not your head, but a hot hatch is a compromise. You buy it with both. You want a slinky sports car, but you know your girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband/baby/dog/excessive height calls for a hatchback. So you’re allowed to let your emotions cloud you judgment a bit. If you didn’t, you’d buy the diesel.

But cars can make you feel good in other ways than being fast as we all know. The primary purpose of a hot hatch may be to be quick, but there’s plenty of other things to think about as well. Maybe you think the Focus is ugly, you don’t like the interior or the body kit? Maybe you think the Type-R is for people with acne? Or maybe you think the JCW GP is ugly as well, and looks like is was designed by somebody not old enough to have acne yet? (I’m being impartial there I know, but I really don’t like the stickers and red scaffolding bar in the back).

Either way, if something is the most expensive in a field of equals, it doesn’t make it the worse.

So are you stupid if you buy one? Personally, I don’t think so. But that’s for you to decide.

In conclusion

The MINI is a car that always has, and always will divide opinions in Marmitian proportions. Will it be a sought after popular classic in the future? Or will it join the Ford Probe in being an obscure joke once it gets old? Only time will tell. In the mean time, please feel free to comment and discuss, but please be nice.

So there you have it… I mentioned the MINI once or twice-think I got away with it.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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122 Comments

  1. I pine for something like an old Mini, and get frustrated seeing everyone one else making Mini’s but not MINI .

    However MINI is certainly a classic, it created the premium small car market, its definately a product of its day including today, its the perfect car for singletons, classless and chic…. It also drives a bit like teoriginal too.

    And for AROnlin’ers, the original MINI was to be a sister car to the classic rover 75. But you know that already.

  2. The original Mini obviously could have been updated / improved on in numerous ways, it could have even had more suitable replacements over the years.

    However, in spite of being cramp (despite its large size), overpriced and pushed as a trendy fashion item that only vaguely shares the visual styling links of the original, the newer MINI is a good car in its own right and a potential future classic.

    Though imho the MINI is not a true Mini replacement, unless BMW later decide to create a smaller budget-focused Mini-Mini beneath the MINI or something inspired by the Rover Spiritual under say the Isetta brand (with visual shades of the Bertone-styled Innocenti Mini to further differ it from the MINI).

  3. Big on the outside, small on the inside was a big turn off when I saw it previewed at the 1999 London Motor Show.

    I’ve also since heard from someone that they’re nowhere near as durable as a car made by BMW should be.

    Perhaps they see it as a poor man’s three door One series.

  4. I love things that polarise opinion – there is nothing worse than something that is kinda alright.

    Long may some carmakers continue to produce cars that are loved and hated.

  5. I think a lot of the ill-feeling toward the MINI stes from the politics of BMW’s ownership of the Rover group. Those in e classic fraternity feel BMW ‘stole’ the Mini, and its history, from UK ownership. I do find it a bit ironic when I see classic Minis from M prefixed onwards registrations with stickers proclaiming ‘100% BMW FREE!”.

    The lack of updating of the classic even went as farms te bus and bolts being Imperial sizes right up until the last one trundled out of Longbrdge

  6. *The lack of updating of the classic went as far as all nuts and bolts being Imperial rather than metric*

    Damn iPad !

  7. The Mini may have sold up to it’s death, but it was hardly a big seller, 35k in 1991, 20k in 1995, 14k in 1998, which is a fraction of the sales of the current MINI.

    The logic BMW used when launching the MINI, was to compare it to the 911, which unlike the Mini, has been updated every few years. You can still buy a 911 50 years later, it’s completely different, faster, and larger, but visually still a 911.

    If the Mini had gone through the same process, it would have grown, though not to the same extent. If BL had remained a global volume manufacturer, then no doubt it would have been a cheaper, more down market car, probably with more room inside, but driving less well.

  8. Frankie makes a valid point in the Golf analogy (ignoring the South African Citigolf).

    The Mondeo is the line successor to the 60s Cortina. If the original had carried on with minor tweaks, then the current huge model was the new Cortina, there would be an outcry.

    I also agree with Paul, the bmw ownership of the marque after the way they disposed of Rover (same with Sauber and MINI WRC driver Kris Meeke) taints the package. I wonder if the Rover range had been trimmed down to the MINI and the 75, with emerging variants of both, would it be such an issue?
    People see the MINI as getting a cheap bmw, but then why did they not think of the 75 as getting a cheap 3 series?

    For me, MINI are a bit like Apple.

    Started off with classic designs – the 2, Lisa but taking off with the Mac. Like the Mini it was compact and a very efficient use of space, it was an iconic design, recognisable from the outline alone. As time went on, the product looked more and more uncompetitive, during the 90s they were for Apple fans while the public bought generic PCs – much as 90s Minis were sold to Mini fans, regular supermini buyers bought Clios and Fiestas etc.

    Late 90s, a redesign of the classic (Mini -> MINI, Mac -> iMac) into form over function occured. Suddenly the product, the brand were trendy. Bought for fashion and not for function.

    The base product was evolved (MINI mk1, mk2.. iMac all in one, lampshade, flat panel..), controversial new products were released (Countryman, Paceman v iPhone, iPad) that proved popular and ever fashionable, but the diehards who had been there since the start and through the dark days of the 90s weren’t impressed. And so it goes on, clever marketing and a desirable product that bears little relation to the revolutionary product of old.

  9. Its not a real Mini – So what?

    Its ugly and overpriced – But lots of people buy them generating decent profits for BMW and securing its UK based manufacturing arm

    Idiots buy them – and pay good money for the privilege, see comment above.

    Would I rather see BMC/BL etc sruggling to turn a decent profit from selling a 30 odd year old curiosity designed by a flawed excentric and gradually going bust, or would I rather see it building a modern state of the art vehicle that people are queuing up to pay a premium for?

  10. What BMW correctly identified as an excellent business opportunity: On the export markets at least, the old Mini was bought as a trendy, stylish icon over its last 10-15 years – not as a basic little mode of transport. It was mostly bought for the same reasons the new one sells now. This is what defined the huge value of the Mini name (even if it needed some investment) and the shape and characteristics of the current Mini are a consequence of this. I have my doubts if BL/ARG management actually noticed this opportunity, as a refreshed and ‘premium’ Mini might have been a way to earn some of the desperatly needed money that other projects failed to achieve. Would the haters be out if the same would have happened under ARG 15 years earlier?

  11. I find the Mini First and One strangely rational buys. They may lack room but are well engineered, well specified (no scrimping on the disc brakes or synchro on reverse gear), excellent to drive and keenly priced. Plus their resale values are commendably strong. They are large compared to the original but that gripe can be applied to any other car.

    As a concept the base product is good, some of the extensions are questionable but inevitable (BMW has to make money and give customers what they want/what they think they want) so fair play.

    Some of the ill-feeling stems from BMWs jettisoning of Rover. I believe that action finally set Mini, Land Rover and to a certain extent MG free. Cowley is kept open, and a new engine plant in Birmingham is signed-off. It’s a pity the gorgeous 75 wasn’t retained and developed but as it sat in Saab/Volvo grey area of medium prestige/volume it could have been a weak business case. So BMW had to do what it had to do.

    The Mini could have ended up like the Audi A2, innovating and spearheading lightweight space-efficient construction. And just like the A2, it would have bombed.

  12. not a great fan of the new Mini,but really not that against it either. as has been said before amazed at how little internal space there is considering its exterior dimensions. Only real issue I have is the constant use of the union flag to sell the thing.after all, Its a German car (albiet one assembled in the U.K)

  13. My goodness, I thought being a fan of MGR products, as most of us are, required an open mind. Judging by some of these hate-fuelled comments, obviously not !!!

  14. It’s evident that Rover Group were utterly incompetent at the business of developing cars for the market, let alone setting market trends. No 100% committed car manufacturer would drag one of the world’s most esteemed premium brands down into the dirt, to the point that it would become irrelevant and ultimately a mere punchline and a symbol of failure. For whatever reason, this is what happened to the Rover brand. Only with Land Rover did they really lead the way. It’s no surprise, then, that MINI and Land Rover are the only surviving and thriving remnants of the 1990s Rover Group.

    Just looking at Rover’s ideas for a new Mini in AROnline’s development story can cause depression. They lacked ambition. At a time when Volkswagen was generating buzz with its New Beetle concept and when Ford was lighting North America alight with sales of its retro-futuristic Mustang, Rover was seriously considering replacing the iconic Mini with a generic Eurobox. Very disappointing to say the least.

    As deplorable as their treatment of their British subsidiary was, BMW at least had ambition. They were willing to bet that they could make a new Mini a desirable fashion icon for the 2000s, selling it across the world in practically every major car market. They bet large and they won.

    As a business proposition, there’s little to fault the Mini with. I’m not going to argue for or against its merits as a car. It’s not my style, though I do think it has real character. I don’t want a car that is so impractical and one-note. I’ll probably never own one, though I’m sure it makes its owners happy. However, it’s a great product for a business to sell, one which a British-owned company could have built in an ideal world. It has a well-defined brand and a desirability which few other cars can match.

    Ideally, the MINI would have been to a hypothetical modern Austin Metro what the new VW Beetle is to the Golf. It would have been the niche market companion to an established range of mainstream cars. VW managed it and Fiat is now doing something similar with the 500, and so Austin/BL/etc. should have been able to pull this off as well.

    However, this isn’t an ideal world. The MINI was largely developed by skilled British engineers, working towards an ambitious vision set by a German company. The Austin brand – the original home of the Mini – was dead after decades of mismanagement and even the premium Rover brand was being run into the ground by both its British and German management. What the MINI represents as far as its origins are concerned is truly disgraceful, opinions on the car itself aside.

    There may also be concerns from some genuine fans of the new cars that MINI is losing the plot a bit. Between the laughable Roadster/Coupe and the puzzling Countryman/Paceman, the MINI brand is being diluted severely. Some of these cars might be genuinely decent under another brand, but they’re not “mini” under any definition of the word. While other British car brands – Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley and BMW’s very own Rolls-Royce – are going from strength to strength, MINI seems to be on its last legs from some perspectives. The new model has to be a straight-A car, or it’s lights out for the brand and probably the Cowley plant as well.

  15. The new mini is rubbish fiat got it spot on with the new 500 in styling and proportions but the mini missed the mark by miles.The mini looks bulky and the styling is strange BMW turned the mini from a cult car to an overpriced rich girls.

    If BMW put me in charge of mini today I would axe the whole lineup.Then I would launch one small car that would rival the skoda citigo it would be the same size and price,and crucially it would look like a real mini.

  16. I hated the original Mini, and I don’t care much for the current one either.

    Still, it keeps British workers in a job.

  17. I actually saw an 08 plate Bini on Sunday, and the bottom of the doors were blistering. It seems they rust as well as the originals, and I’m so glad that there are people out there, like myself who are fed up with this overpriced excuse for a car.

    Ben has it spot on (comment 18). BMW need to seriously look at a Citigo/Up!/Mii, and go after that market. They wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand. Around £8,500, modern 3 pot petrol, basic spec… And serious hot hatch buyers won’t pay £28k for one, they will buy a Focus ST for about £23k after haggling, then spend the difference on track days. Or walk to the other end of the showroom and spend £28k on a BMW.

    Things started OK for the Bini, but delusions of grandeur set in at Munich, and the price just kept going up & up, and the versions just got dafter and uglier, and built in Austria.

    • Re: Rust on Countryman – that is certainly not what you would expect to see on a brand new car, but technically speaking I cannot see a problem there – apart from how the backside of your wheels look from underneath a ramp…

  18. I still prefer the original 1960’s Mini including the Clubman. The current MINI Hatchback’s are okay but I dont care for the look of the Countryman & Clubman versions – too big and not very attractive to me.

  19. I think a lot of the upmarket appeal of the Mini stems from its dealer sales being through BMW outlets or next door for newer sites. That gave a strong upmarket link. The car was unique but is getting silly with some new variants. The countryman looks like an Austin 1800 for its uglyness! However Mini is selling well abroad. I still hope they will develop a genuine BMC 1100 replacement using the Riley badge they own and a proper sports car Triumph Spitfire is ideal. I hope Land Rover develop a Rover 2000 replacement to sell in L-R dealers off their new small Jag platform. Believe me it would sell with the L-R halo effect!

  20. I remember to seeing the new MINI for the first time behind an electric mirror for the first time at Longbridge in the MINI coffee shop. And then shown a large 30ft model of what the new Longbridge would look like with the new MINI production buildings, then two days late B*W sold out.

    Has the MINI got Rover DNA or B*W?

    Who really created the new MINI?

  21. Interesting ideas from Simon regarding a future “Riley” badged car and a P6 replacement. Sounds good to me, but time will tell?

  22. Hi Guys,

    Well another provokative piece.

    My hateful Bini went rusty from INSIDE the doors, and it is reassuring that it wasnt just me.

    Just my own opinion….if you are going to make a premium car, irrespective of size, make sure its premium.

    The best expression used today is durability (or lack off).

    After my experience I wouldnt touch another Bini with a barge pole, or a Beemer.

    I think a golf (or similar with a different badge) makes much more sense.

    Or go the cheapo route and try French.

    Dont shoot the messinger…

    Her nibs has a Renault Megane. 1.5DCI (Mercedes use this engine now) its economical, goes like stink, £30 a year ticket…she paid £10K when it was a year old…with 6000miles on. Has satnav/keyless go and all the other essentials…

    She loves it. zero problems…and take it from me…MUCH more DURABLE than the 2010 mini I brought.

    Please dont shout at me!

  23. To me, the MINI represents BMW’s asset-stripping and dumping of Rover – that’s why I hate it. I’m sure it’s a perfectly okay “lifestyle” type car – I’m pretty indifferent to it other than what it represents politically. I used to race and race-tune Minis and understand that the MINI is not a spiritual successor, but the Mini was too long-in-the-tooth by the time it was finally killed off so I wasn’t so indignant about the newcomer – which is a car of its time (presentation over content). I always thought the Imp was a vastly superior car in every way – apart from looks perhaps?

    To paraphrase the (in)famous words of J Clarkson – I think any Brit who buys a BMW product should be taken outside and shot for treason after what they did to Rover.

  24. @17 “Just looking at Rover’s ideas for a new Mini in AROnline’s development story can cause depression. They lacked ambition.”

    Quite the opposite, Rover wanted to create a new packaging sensation along the lines of the original Mini on a technically advanced platform. BMW understood the market better and that most people today are morons who care more about bling than engineering excellence or packaging cleverness. If you want a perfect example of this, take one very practical, cheap and well packaged car – the Fiat Panda – shorten the floorpan and replace the bodywork with a pokey pastiche of a long-dead model – add 20% to the price and hey presto – a roaring success. People today are just sheep following the latest marketing buzz. Baaa!

  25. Hmm, maybe giving the customer what they want is actually a better way of making profits and ensuring a future, if people want to spend extra on something with less space and practicality, then what’s the problem? The Citroen DS3 is selling like hot cakes, can’t remember the last new C3 I saw.

    I don’t like the Countryman, but it’s selling very well, I see loads of them around.

  26. @32 – The DS3 is subtly stretched in all directions, regaining the interior space lost by fitting premium seats and more kit. It also has much better quality bushing and suspension components, the C3’s (sometimes nasty) feel though the steering over bumps has gone. I still see quite a few new C3s – they are cheap and economical selling to exactly the same audience as before. The DS3 is genuinely attracting new customers to Citroën. The DS3 is a significantly better car than the C3 other than the lack of rear doors – I guess it’s what the C3 could be if Citroën had the marketing clout to push the OTR price up another £1500 to fund better quality suspension components + fixtures and fittings. They may share platforms but the C3 is built to a price – the DS3 is built to a standard. The 500 is no better than a Panda dynamically and has much worse packaging. The DS3 has some content to go with the styling! Driving the C3 and DS3 back to back is chalk and cheese, the 500 just feels like a cramped and less comfortable Panda with nicer interior materials.

  27. I quite like the original MINI hatchback; like the (new)Beetle, it’s a tasteful modern day spin on the original. I just wish BMW had followed the lead of VW on the Beetle and not created a whole host of rather ungainly variants in an attempt to conquer niches we didn’t know existed. If a MINI owner wants a 4-door SUV-type vehicle, why don’t they just buy an XI or X3 and keep it in the family?

  28. The classic mini, was ahead of the time, incisive thinking my engineers Issigonis, Moulton and Daniels.

    The Bini, a conventional contemporary car, simply an exercise in styling by an USA design studio.

  29. The USA is now the biggest market ahead of the UK for MINI’s….as you would expect the Countryman SUV was only just behind the hatch on sales in the USA in January proving how valuable the R60 is to MINI’s bottom line. To survive MINI needed to be a worldwide brand with a range of models so the Countryman was a sensible additiom to the range to ensure survival and increase production volumes of the basic MINI platform. The MINI Paceman is also positioned in the growing market for small sporting SUV’s like the Nissan Juke but with prices starting well below the also highly successful Range Rover Evoque.
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2013/02/03/mini-usa-sales-up-for-january-10/

  30. I’m not particularly a big fan of the original Mini and, BMW link aside, I don’t particularly have much ill-will towards the BINI Hatchback (I even find the Clubman and Clubvan oddly appealing). The Pacemaker and Bloatryman I do find downright offensive mind you.

    What my on-going problem with the whole BINI thing is just how uninnovative it is. Whatever you think of the original Mini (and as I’ve said, I don’t particularly like it) it was a truly innovative and intelligent design. A true response to this heritage would be to create something that moved the small car game on just like the original did in 1959. Instead we got a slightly bloated modern interpretation. If you look at concepts that were intended to replace the Mini like 9X and in particular the two Spiritual concepts (which were, IMO, well and truly ahead of their time) you can see that. The Spiritual concepts lacked retro appeal, but they had the true spirit of the original Mini in a pure form. Instead of a revolutionary spiritual (pun not intended) successor we got a bloated fashion accessory.

    I should say now that I don’t particularly blame BMW (or, considering the amount of Rover engineering and DNA in R50, our own beloved firm) for this. They are businesses and there was not as much profit in a conventional small car as there is in an aspirational product like the BINI, so they were only doing what was best for themselves.

  31. I believe statements that MINIs are bought by ‘stupid’ people only interested in cars as a fashion statement are frankly, nonsense. I can’t think of a single road test of the MINI since 2001 in which it has not been praised for its dynamic qualities and compared to the similar qualities of the original Mini. As MINI Dealers often state once you get a customer behind the wheel of a MINI they want to trade in their boring regular small car.

    How many other small modern cars like the MINI has its own dedicated enthusiast magazine Modern MINI on sale in most newsagents each month, has several busy international enthusiast forums, dozens of regional clubs and forums in the UK and most other countries where it is sold, large turnouts at many of the major Mini/MINI enthusiast shows and events (The anniual Beaulieu Mini show recently celebrated 10 years of the MINI and 50 years of the classic Mini Cooper), there are several MINI only specialist tuning companies, aftermarket suppliers and a MINI Challenge Race series running in the UK, Europe and Australia with enthusiastic drivers, supporters and spectators.

    Like the classic Mini before it, which reached peak annual sales of around 300,000 in 1971, the MINI now sells in similar volumes, so inevitably the majority of owners will not be car enthusiasts, either now or back then!

  32. BMW have done a fantastic job with MINI making it turn good profits in a sector that rarely makes any money. They’ve continue to invest in the UK manufacturing sector not only for MINI but also their other engines, this is a good thing surely.

    They have developed a whole new sector, the premium small car. Without the MINI you wouldn’t have the Fiat 500, Audi A1 etc.

    Rover would have failed with the MINI almost guaranteed. I used to like the idea of getting a MINI but didn’t have the money at the time.

  33. Thanks for reminding us of those Keith – I do hope we don’t add the Spirituals to the list that includes the P6B, the P8, the P9, the SD2 and the incredible pininfiara 1100 and 1800’s – please, BMW, if you have a heart, produce these as the next MiNi’s (did a Steve Jobs there!)

  34. Why would BMW launch a Spiritual style Mini when as already said the Audi A2 flopped, the Mercedes A-Class proved a dead end and has just been replaced by a conventional hatchback and the Smart Car has never sold in MINI volumes or made a decent profit?

    On the evergreen MINI size question:

    Overall Length:
    MINI (Mk1 2001-06) = 3626 mm
    Fiesta (2002-08) = 3918 mm
    Corsa (2003-06) = 3839 mm
    Yaris (1999-05) = 3640 mm
    Clio (2001-08) = 3812 mm

    (The Mk2 MINI hatch has grown slightly for front pedestrian impact safety rules but so also have all the competitors later models!)

  35. @43 Those figures are completely meaningless,only telling us the length of the car.The Fiat uno was a supermini that had more interior room than a Mk5 Escort,or a BMW 850 coupe.
    Everyone knows cars have grown but where is the innovative use of interior space in the current Mini? I’m all for the Mini being a success but would like to see a bare naked cheap variant just for once instead of £28k Cooper GP small cocks and the like,its the cynical marketing that pisses me off,they are a dream to drive but nothing special.

  36. Right, time for my input……1) I have owned a Mini – an ’89 Racing Green, which I loved, spent a lot of time fettling, threw around country lanes, and commuted in, and eventually had to concede to the dreaded tin-worm. When it worked it was adorable and the best fun I’ve ever had on 2 wheels (with my clothes on ;-D). I also, now drive a 3-series BMW (but only because I have to have a company car, and I loathe anything by the dreaded VAG group). Back in 2000, my then partner and I considered buying the then new Mini One. I loved the looks, the BMW connection, and read rave reviews. We test-drove one, and it was superb – quick, taut, with a great interior. Only 2 things stopped us making a purchase – 1) No boot with the seats up, 2) It was bloomin’ expensive brand new. We bought a real Mini. Fast-forward 10 years – the current Bini is a cartoon parody of the original 1999 Bini – bloated, with a ridiculous dashboard, and it does nothing to address the issues the original Bini had. The brand has further been diluted by the risible 5-door thing (whose name escapes me) and rhe ‘crash-helmet on wheels’ coupe thing, which makes me laugh hysterically everytime I see some poor soul driving one! The cars, I’m afraid have become the stuff of parody, and Ok, they sell, but so do Justin Beiber records and value burgers, and we al know how good those are…….Joking aside, my main gripe is tha the Bini isn’t even a tribute to the original Mini anymore, it smacks of cynical profiteering, and BMW’s desire to milk a once great concept to death. BMW isn’t alone, FIAT group is doing the same with the 500, and VW really should have stopped with ‘New Beetles’ 5 years ago. To me, the retro car fad dies sometime back. It’s nice to do it once, but unlike the originals, which had longevity, the young pretenders really can’t be updated every 3 years, and still stay true to the concept. To quote Rutger Hauer – ‘Wake up, time to die’……

  37. I have had two BINIs, an R50 and the current R56.

    I’d like to point out some important facts:

    – Both models of the BINI have incredible chassis dynamics. This is verified by virtually every motoring publication and the car’s owner base. When you buy a modern MINI you are getting one if the best handling front wheel drive cars on the market. It is effectively a sports car with a retro body.

    – The current Prince engine as fitted to the R56 is known for its excellence in economy and performance and it even has a characteristic whine reminiscent of the original Mini.

    – MINI has excellent customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

    – The current MINI is one of the most customisable cars on the market, such that no two cars are believed to be exactly the same specification.

    – The lack of interior space is largely down to the bulky rear suspension, which is largely responsible for the handling.

    – The car is not that big compared to rival superminis of the same class. Check the measurements. Much of the “bloated” appearance is down to the incredibly wide track, which is again, a major contributor to that great handling.

    – They sell millions of the things.

    – You don’t have to be an idiot to buy one. I have a degree, have a managerial job and earn very well. I find this accusation insulting. You may find some buyers are looking for a well made, characterful and fun car which they can order to very bespoke specifications. How is this idiotic?

    I’m sorry haters, but the car is an excellent product and a continued financial success. It wrote the rule book for the modern premium, bespoke hatchback and built in the fashion legacy of the original Mini. It is a work of genius from a business perspective. The fact that it has a driving experience to back it all up makes it something special. It will be an icon for its generation.

    The original Mini was a stunning piece of engineering in response to the specific needs of 1959. It became a sports car and fashion statement within a few years of its launch, moving it away from its original purpose as a utilitarian, space efficient package. It then limped along as a dated anachronism for many years, long past it’s sell by date. It’s a legend, but its time people moved on and accepted that the car was great in its day, but the world is a different place with different needs. The new car meets these needs as well as the original met the needs of its time. Give it some bloody credit.

  38. Well said John.

    Apart from anything else, there’s little evidence that BL/ARG by themselves would have produced anything innovative themselves with the skills and budget they had. The R3 shows the level of engineeering within Rover, a decent car but no pioneer. Realistically, there’s zero chance that Rover could have put something like Spiritual into production.

    Why should BMW produce a stripped out version? That’s not what their customers want. It’s like saying LR should produce a stripped out Freelander with Vinyl seats and floor coverings to be more in touch with the original Land Rover!

  39. One of the reasons BL/Rover never replaced the original Mini, when it was still being sold as basic entry level transport, wss because it had become impossible to build cheap small cars profitably in Western high wage economy countries like the UK.

    If BMW had tried to recreate the MINI as a ‘stripped’ out bargain basement small car it would have had to have been built in eastern Europe, far east or India. Why do you think Nissan recently stopped UK Micra production and moved it to India so a premium priced model like the Qashqui could be built in their UK fsctory?

    Instead BMW took a risk by funding Rover engineers to create a new premium supermini class of car which could be built profitabily in Oxford, expecting to sell approx. 100,000 a year……it was such a success, the R50 tooling became worn out sooner than expected with annual sales exceeding 200,000, so the R56 Mk2 MINI replacement had to be brought forward by a year or so in 2006.

    Today with a range of variants over 300,000 per annum has been achieved but to remain competitive the forthcoming Mk3 F56 platform must have more platform and component sharing with other small BMW models, to aim for volumes of 500,000 and so keep production costs competitive with rivals.

    10+ years after the 2001 launch of the MINI the rival manufacturers have started to catch on and launch their own premium superminis such as the Alfa Mito, Audi A1, Fiat 500, Citroen DS3 and now the Vauxhall/Opel Adam!

  40. @49,If you can have two Minis that are not going to be the same options wise, why not? do you need all that shit inside a car for say a track day? comment 48-pretty much sums it up in terms of the buyer demograph,that said a Mini first is accessable but not to the many,a cheap,light no frills MINI would be ideal,i have never bought a car because a magazine states they are the best,i use my own free mind and judgement,the car would never meet my requirements for every day,i have owned a Cooper S works-a hoot to drive but drank fuel,ate expensive run flat tyres and leaked ruining the body control module and the loom with it.I dont hate the Mini (how silly to label folk haters-just debate them)im just tired of cynical marketing which expertly targets the “aspirational middle classes” and financial success is probably all that matters to some folk,a bit like a Mini,superficial and bloated,no one is saying anyone is an idiot to buy one,its just idiotic paying £28k up for Cooper gp or whatever they call it,the prince engine isnt all that princely,i did six chain modules and dephasers alone last year,still all cars have faults some worse than others.
    Its not car for all people like the original was,cheap and spacious for its size,if it was i would be far more equitable to the concept,as the car is,its going to get BMW like stick thrown at it,lets hope the forthcoming new model is truer to the original with its 3 pot EB engine,and thus gain a cult following.
    BL/ARG are long gone and has no relevance to the current Mini or how its marketed.

  41. Quote below from the excellent book ‘New MINI’ by Graham Robson:

    “Soon after buying Rover in 1994 for £800 million cash, BMW promised they would invest a lot more in new-model development than previous owners BAe had ever managed – at least £450 milion every year instead of £200 million. Much of that money, they told Rover management, would be allocated to the Mini.

    BMW it seems, had identified the Mini as a priceless brand – a brand to be rated at the same level as ‘Coca Cola’, ‘McDonalds’ and ‘Nike’ – and they were determined to revive it.

    ‘When they asked us about the Mini’ Chris Lee says, ‘they were pretty horrified when we (Rover) said that: ‘When we can’t keep it legal, we’re going to let it run down.’

    ‘We told BMW that we had never been able to make a business case for doing a new Mini – that the margins always looked tiny, and that we needed to make a lot of them to get all the scale benefits.’

    BMW immediately said: ‘We are prepared to fund an all-new small car platform. BMW, in fact, had taken a different view of the Mini from the day that they took control of the business: ‘When we had discussions with colleagues from Rover’ Torsten Muller-Oervoes recalls, ‘we said ‘we wanted to make a success of the Mini, they all said: ‘Why? Forget it….’ – they were not really interested in this little jewel. And it is a jewel – one which just needed to be polished up once again.

    ‘No one at Rover appeared to have a feeling for how valuable the Mini brand could be for them. There was no emotion there – emotion is the key essential for getting premium prices. You are only ready to pay the price if you get that certain gut feeling – I Want This Car And that’s the big difference, say, between a VW Polo and a MINI.’

  42. To John Hackett at No 48.

    Sir you are one of the lucky ones.

    This product has many issues….I learnt the hard way.

    The Bini I had was excellent to drive and economical thanks to the peugeot engine. The interior was built by children and it went rusty.

    I had a clubman which has amazing internal space.

    I wish to reiterate the word DURABILITY, these cars are not. they are fragile and built to a price. they do NOT hold up to normal use like for example a golf would.

    BMW/MINI invented small funky car perhaps, but the competion has woken up. This months which has slated the Mini 4 door model I think thats the country man.

    Your comment about brand loyalty….I think not.

  43. @53, There are forums that are awash with problem Mini’s some horror stories and some good ones,in particular those involving goodwill from BMW!

  44. I myself have an early 2002 R50 MINI, bought secondhand, owned 8 years, nothing major gone wrong or replaced, free TLC servicing carried over from previous owner, absolutely no rust anywhere. Also still have a classic Mini I have owned for over 25 years. 🙂

    515,000 miles is the highest recorded R50 mileage currently on the MINI2 forum: See update below from HWS an 87 year old 2002 R50 MINI Cooper owner from Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA in his latest post Jan 24th, 2013, 08:45 PM:

    Quote
    “In the meantime, my 2002 MINI has kept going and going without any fussing.
    We’re now somewhat over 515,000 miles – it’s Winter here – snow on roads –
    Minus 8 Degrees F yesterday – the MINI (2002) always starts on first try –
    still blows hot air – keeps my seat warm – and has never yet made me think
    of trading her for anything else. She’s been so easy & so much fun to live with!!”
    http://www.mini2.com/forum/general-discussion/145760-whos-driven-most-miles-hws-has-over-317-000-a-30.html#post3851024

  45. @55,The reported rust problems do surprise me,its one thing i have yet to see to be honest,apart from some shoddy crash repairs.

  46. The main faults on some early R50 MINI’s are failed EHPS steering pumps and Rover Midland Gearbox bearings, both were insisted on by Rover development engineers but BMW did reject using the K-Series engine…..
    In my own R50 MINI neither have failed but the steering feel from the EHPS is superb and in my opinion the gear change of the Rover box is much nicer than the later Getrag gearboxes fitted to all R50 MINI’s from 2004.

    This ‘Insider’ article posted below, found in an old issue of “CAR” magazine from July 2001, makes interesting reading and may interest some on ARO:
    ‘A former Rover engineer tells at first hand the role Rover had to play in the development of the new MINI’ :

    New MINI: more cool Britannia than BMW will admit?

    A Former engineer is furious at BMW’s claims that Rover had no involvement in the New Mini. It was, he claims, a very British affair.

    Robin Ford doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of the British automotive engineer. He’s well spoken, articulate… and pretty fed up. Within hours of the last issue of CAR magazine hitting the streets, Ford had e-mailed us in anger at BMW’s claims that ‘Rover hadn’t been much help’ in designing and engineering the new Mini, especially in terms of the unique front-drive chassis.

    ‘That made my blood boil’ exclaims Ford. ‘The brief from BMW was for a MacPherson strut front and Z-axle rear-axle layout. That was it. There are no BMW components in the systems and they were entirely designed at Rover’s Gaydon engineering centre in Warwickshire. The geometry, component stiffness, durability, compliances – all were specified and designed by Rover engineers’.

    Ford says he should know, because he was the front-axle system engineer responsible for the packaging, design and integration of the Mini chassis. ‘When we started, very little was defined. BMW didn’t ask for any BMW components, it let us go away and get on with it.

    ‘Even the Mini’s engine and transmission was engineered at Longbridge and Gaydon. The engine was worked on at Powertrain, who also did the gearbox, which is based on the unit used by Rover. The Cooper S uses a Getrag box, but the development was carried out at Longbridge. I’d say there were hundreds of British engineers on Mini, maybe as many as 300 or 400’.

    From the outset, Ford reveals that it was Rover employees who turned BMW’s vision into reality. ‘We started development with simulators. There were two types: Rover 200s with a mock Mini chassis and 200s with the Mini’s Pentagon engine. The supercharged K-series simulator was a cracking car. In the end, over 200 simulators were built at Longbridge and we learnt a lot. The idea was to get the design to what’s called ‘production release’ a year or so before the Mini was due to go on sale. The Mini concept car the press saw at the Frankfurt show was built in summer 1997, with glassfibre panels taken straight off the clay styling model and then fitted to a Punto chassis. (See Video)

    ‘We knew what the Mini had to be – the best handling front drive car in the world. We were very happy with a Z-axle concept, although it’s not great for space. Some people also argued for double wishbones at the front, but BMW insisted that the Mini was a BMW and had to have struts. However, it wasn’t easy to make the front suspension work. The Mini has a very compact front end.

    ‘We worked very hard to minimise torque steer and the complexity and detail work in the chassis is on a much higher level than under a Puma or Lupo. Success has a lot to do with component stiffness. For example, the Mini has a two piece box section chassis arm with 1.5 metres of welding in it. The flex in the suspension components is less than 10 percent of that in the bushes. The stiffness of the mounting points is good for NVH’.

    Ford says he is proudest of the Mini’s steering system because, he claims, he was responsible for changing the system late in the day. ‘Up until 1999, the Mini’s steering was fully electric with a powered worm-drive. But it was almost surreal: there was no kick-back or feedback. On rutted roads you couldn’t feel anything, even at the limit of adhesion. I had overall responsibility for the whole front end and didn’t like it.

    ‘The steering department said it could be fixed with a tweak to the steering, so BMW told us to get it sorted. But instead I knocked together a simulator with an electro-hydraulic Rover 25 rack. The original simulator had a Ford Escort rack modified for the right geometry and it felt good, but BMW drove both and chose mine. Fully electric steering was a pet project at Rover and several engineers had tried it in a Mondeo, where it worked well. It was just inappropriate in a Mini – there was no joy.

    ‘It was very hard to package a steering pump on the Mini engine. It’s extraordinarily tight under the bonnet. We had to re-write the rule book on tyre and component clearances. In fact we threw the rule book away. There’s meant to be 15mm clearance for tyres. Now there is actually a benign foul in extreme circumstances. It was a packaging nightmare – or miracle – and only got done thanks to computer-aided design. We needed a lot of suspension travel to cope with bumps and the 17 inch wheels on the Cooper S were an absolute nightmare to accommodate. I think the sweetest handling Mini was one with smallest tyres – it’s a pity the run-flat tyres were added late in the day’.

    Robin Ford’s involvement with the Mini came to an abrupt end in early 2000 when BMW suddenly asked for the Mini computer files to be hurriedly downloaded to German hard drives. ‘BMW had finished the assembly building at Longbridge and wanted to ramp up production for a January 2001 on-sale date. It all looked fantastic when we went to a BMW pep talk in February 2000 explaining what they were going to do. The old dyed-in-the-wool Rover people were sceptical but I was taken in’. By mid March BMW’s board announced it’s intention to dispose of Rover and Ford left the project.

    Now running his own sports car manufacturer, FBS, Ford looks back on Mini as ‘a project apart. Some at Rover thought all the effort and money that went into Mini was a distraction from the main job at Rover’. And they might be right.

    Edited by Paul Horrell and Hilton Holloway (CAR Magazine July 2001)

    (Note: Since this article was published a former Rover engineer on the MINI project at Gaydon told me the above engineers name wasn’t Robin Ford was actually Robin Hall).

  47. Both of our MINIS have been reliable, bar some small faults here and there. Nothing major has gone wrong and build quality has generally been very solid (although some interior parts are slightly flimsy in places).

    To answer the comment about brand loyalty, it is self evident that the MINI has a huge following and figures show regular repeat sales. This is one reason for the introduction of the weird derivatives – to try to catch loyal customers who leave the brand because they have a family and need a larger car. Ok, so a few have had problem cars. But the overall owner experience is very good. The evidence is out there.

    @Francis Brett – I use my own free will when making any purchase, thank you very much. And do you have some sort of complex about the “aspirational middle classes”? Is this customer base not worthy of having a product targeted to their needs?

  48. In terms of build quality, MINI don’t have any excuses. Speaking from personal experience, BMW’s quality is good. All their materials are to notch, everything fits together well, nothing falls off, breaks or snaps with normal use.
    So why this doesn’t seem to spread to BMW’s UK operation, I have no idea.

    Maybe Keith can call in at Chez BMW when he’s in Germany and ask, I’m sure they’d be most accommodating…

  49. We now have a MINI in the household, a new CooperD, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised and impressed with it. I was never a fan of the Original 2001 MINI, I felt it looked awkward, was overpriced and a travesty against the original. However, like most things, my view has softened with age either through nonchalance or wisdom, I am not sure. I have to say however, that the latest MINI is a revelation. It really is exceptional to drive and handles brilliantly, teamed with the Diesel engine, is a real hoot to drive. It feels good quality and makes you feel good driving it. I fully understand and still feel sad for what might have been if MINI had stayed where it should have, with Rover, but as a car in its own right, this is not the MINI’s fault. In that respect, I urge people to look past the horrendous way the MINI was born into the world and give the car the credit it and all who created it, Rover, BMW et al. for creating a damn fine British car that is very successful and employs a lot of British people and suppliers.

  50. I express myny time my oppinion about the MINI, no need to repeat here it at all, but have to say that Frankie done a good job writeing this article ….still remember what Jeremy Clarkson said about the Mini nav system

  51. Well I think the Original Mini was best, But the first MINI was a good car, both handling and looking. But that was designed partially by Brits. The current MINI is a watered down version and looks so much cheaper and nasty. Put the MINIs against each other and you can see that BMW ruined it.

  52. @59, I dont have a complex about anything,deducing from your announcement that you are a manager and paid well may suggest you have one though.

  53. stand back people as im ready to impart my 2 pennys worth.
    ill start by agreeing with the allot of people on here by saying that i too believe that alot of the hatred that comes from forum members, including myself do stem from BMW’s ownership of rover, as well as its want to brush the original mini totally out of its history.
    but but i also believe the thing gets slammed because it just isnt a very good car!
    my mother owns a 1.6 03 cooper and i hate having to drive it when i down have my own car.
    im not really going to go into its looks because no one opinion can be right or wrong.
    the first thing i will mention is its build quality. i find that inside things rattle, the “leather” on both the steering wheel and hand break keeps flaking off. while there are some good materials there are also some very cheep ones. and the whole thing just doesnt feel that well screwed together.
    the interior is so cramped in a car that big its just not funny. i get the whole rear axle takes up space but surely they could come up with something better than that and still have great handling…ford has!
    its not that reliable..although i will admit its not a total banger either.
    and then we come to the driving experience. which is in a word…terrible.
    no i’m not going mad. and yes i do agree that it handles brilliantly. there is little else to touch it. and i am always impressed at its ability to take corners at any speed without any fuss what so ever. all great. so why so bad then? well to start of with…that great handling also seems to come saddled with a ride that is so hard i genuinely feel in pain by the time get out of the damn thing. its not that it had bad ride quality, it had no ride quality at all.. i had an MR2 which was just as fun without the bone shaking ride the mini has…quite why they bothered to even fit springs to the suspension is beyond me. they clearly have no effect. then there is that horrible useless engine, the overly heavy stearing and the fact that the whole care feels as if it weighs a tonne!
    i agree it has great handling but unfortunatly…not alot else.
    its over hyped and that is why i think it gets a hard time on here. we dont blindly follow trends on here.

  54. @68 Amen to that,and the Fiesta ST is a far better car ownership experience overall i think.And a Polo Gti,Fabia Vrs etc.

  55. @66
    I bet your mother has a MINI with run flat tyres and/or the sport suspension package?
    If you ditch the expensive runflat tyres with stiff sidewalls and fit normal tyres, which are also cheaper, and you will find the ride is transformed. An optional spacesaver spare tyre kit can also be fitted under the boot floor on all models except the Cooper S.

    The original Mini’s history was used much more in marketing the MINI in the early years in overseas markets like the USA but was avoided here in UK because market research indicated most UK motorists with a more recent history of Mini ownership still associated the classic Mini with rust, noise, water leaks and unreliability……not what the new ‘premium’ small car wanted to win buyers over with to start with. The passage of a further 10+ years means more people here now view their previous classic Mini history and memories with nostalgia and ‘rose tinted’ glasses, so BMW have brought more classic Mini links into their marketing in recent years. Its a no win situation with some ‘enthusiasts’ though as they either accuse MINI of ignoring the history and heritage or else exploiting it too much to sell the new models! 🙂

  56. @67
    The current Fiesta Mk7 range is a far better looking and more sporting to drive car than the previous staid, boring but practical Fiesta Mk6 models, simply because Ford admitted their market research had shown many Fiesta owners aspired to own a MINI if they had the choice and budget.

    Fiesta ST, Polo Gti, Fabia Vrs, yes all good cars but the MINI like the Mini before it has a certain timeless appeal to people from all walks of life throughout the world, that is hard to define to non-believers. Also an early 2001 R50 MINI Hatch looks as good today as the current models whereas a 2001 Fiesta, Polo and Fabia all look dated by comparism and have much lower residual values to match.

    Like the quote from the book ‘New MINI’ by Graham Robson said:
    ‘No one at Rover appeared to have a feeling for how valuable the Mini brand could be for them. There was no emotion there – emotion is the key essential for getting premium prices. You are only ready to pay the price if you get that certain gut feeling – I Want This Car And that’s the big difference, say, between a VW Polo and a MINI.’ 🙂

  57. @68, Changing the wheels round just means insurance problems,if you swap to normal wheels and tyres its a modified car,if you swap and say nothing it voids the insurance in event of a claim.Dont believe me? a mate of mine recently went through this trauma after a accident,and they voided the insurance and has a marker on his name on the insurance database,its more trouble than it is worth.
    She learned a valuable lesson.

  58. @70
    Most insurance companies when contacted have no issue with owners swapping from runflat tyres……the MINI has always been available with normal tyres anyway on some models and as an option and the R50 only had them added very late in the design. Going by the MINI forums thousands have switched with no problems including me and my brother has also swapped them out on his 3-Series with no insurance problem either.

  59. @63 DaveH, that’s the problem with all cars, views of them are entirely subjective, I think the Original MINI looks awkwardly shaped and weak, the cabin looks too small, the front end too sloped and bug eyed. The general quuality is much lower than the second gen MINI, especially the interior. I don’t know how much time you have spent with/in a new MINI, but I for one can say my opinion changed when I actually had chance to drive one/own one, this is not the voice of a converted fanatic, it’s not my own car, but my biased view of the car before I’d even stepped into one has changed. Looking at a MK1 MINI against a MK2, side by side, shows all thw weaknesses of the original design IMO.

  60. Agree with James, these things are subjective. One person’s bug eyed blob is another person’s cuddly cheeky runabout with carlashes.
    Some people think my car’s proportions are ugly, with a bootlid like an aircraft carrier.

  61. Mini is a brand name, nothing more nothing less and has got nothing in common with the original Mini apart from place of manufacture.

    Whilst the classic Mini was a revolution in engineering/car development, the same cannot be said for BMW’s product, which relies on design manipulation to create an image of lineage where none exists.

    BMW will continue to exploit the MINI brand name whilst changing the design to fit current trends, citing an evolutionary path as it does so.

  62. Chris K echoes my sentiments exactly.

    The one thing that the BINI has going for it is that it is (reportedly) a damn good steer. But the styling is awful, the pseudo-retro interior is messy and tacky, and its too damn big.

  63. Suppose the retro theme is like a bigger, more expensive example of the C64x PC I recently bought to use as a living room media server. It has nothing to do with the C64 of old, does not have the same innovations, hardware or price. It’s just a MiniITX PC in a C64 lookalike case.

  64. Yep. I ordered a barebones from Commodore USA.

    Their communication regarding shipping wasn’t great, it took a few weeks to get here, it sat in the parcelforce depot for ages it needed to be delivered to work and I didn’t get the import tax letter.

    Alternatively, you can order the fullfat one from amazon
    http://www.amazon.com/Commodore-C64x-Supreme/dp/B0089F36V8/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1360334717&sr=1-1

    Mini ITX stop used to sell them officially in the UK, but seems to be down now.

    On the forums, classic Commodore fans are aghast. Especially with the new Amiga, which looks more like a Mac Mini.
    That is what reminded me of the MINI controversy. A company using a name of a classic product to market a new unrelated product.

  65. No-one who buys a MINI is an idiot. They are good cars which oerform well and hold their value on the used market. They’re mostly made in the UK so why are we knocking them? Do I want one? No, not really but that’s because they don’t make a model that fits my needs. When we replace my wife’s up! in 3 years time (a car by the way which is closer to the original Mini than the MINI is) we may look at a One (the First is too stripped down).

    I just don’t see why people get so worked up. Huge 4x4s, yes. MINIs, no.

  66. The consensus of opinion is that the car is an undisputable great handler,I would never pay £28k for the works gp,its still nothing special for that kind of money,maybe in 4 years after the first mug has owned it the car may make sense. I could still illicit the same thrills out of a Fiesta st or Golf GTi/R32/R on any B road with any ofthose cars being cheaper or more practical.
    The Mini first is probably the best in the range but only because it is the cheapest and less vulgar than some of the other models,i know car reflect folks personality but driving about in say a £28k GP and having to admit it to someone will make them look an idiot.

  67. @79 Quote:
    “Mini is a brand name, nothing more nothing less and has got nothing in common with the original Mini apart from place of manufacture.”

    So what car marque(s) can not be defined as only a brand name when based on your arguement?!
    Does a modern Jaguar, Golf, Polo, Beetle, Fiat 500, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Routemaster Bus, London Taxi or anything else have something more in common or revolutionary when compared with their original incarnations?

    Is the latest Mk8 Golf a revolution in engineering/car development like the Mk1 or even the same size?…..(the current Polo is now the size of a Mk1 Golf).

    Original Fiat 500 was rear engined, rwd, built in Italy on a unique platform.
    New Fiat 500 is front transverse engined, fwd, larger and built in Poland on a Panda platform also shared with the Ford KA.

    Original Beetle was rear engined, rwd, built in Germany on a unique platform.
    New Beetle is front transverse engined, fwd, larger and built in Mexico on a Golf platform.

    Original Mini was front transverse engined, fwd, built in UK on a unique platform and created a new market sector. New MINI is front transverse engined, fwd, larger and built in UK on a unique platform and also created a new market sector…

    Market forces and buyers decide at the end of the day what they want to buy and they buy MINI’s in ever growing numbers worldwide which should be a cause for celebration, while they are still mostly manufactured in the UK.
    Especially when it is remembered how close short sighted Rover management came to killing the Mini marque off for good back in 1997…..before BMW insisted on the classic MPI Mini updates to meet EU safety, noise and emission laws until 2000 and the launch of the new replacement R50 MINI in 2001.

  68. Guys,

    A Bini does handle.

    BUT….it takes much more than that to make a great car.

    Premium prices without the premium quality.

    If it made me an idiot for buying one…it will be a mistake I will not replace.

    Not a patch of my Scooby 🙂

  69. I’m 28, former Fiesta owner. I now own a 2012 Clubman OneD with the usual few additions to make it more habitable inside. I have even been roped-in to the ‘customising’ crowd by purchasing coloured wing mirror covers. I Looked at a 5-door Audi A1 first. There was no denying the Audi was a far superior car, but I plumbed for the Mini anyway. Am I an idiot for doing so? Dunno; but at least I’m not an Audi driver…

  70. Two thoughts!
    Why is it that the those who bother to write up and call cars ‘rubbish’ just because they don’t personally like them – are the people who can’t spell or put sentences together intelligently?
    I have only had about 80 or so cars so probably am not qualified to make this comment but we use an 09 Mini Clubman as a daily driver (the V6 Alfa Spyder is ‘resting’) and although a great fan of the old Mini (we still have a chopped and lowered original 64 ‘S’) we think the new Mini is fantastic. We love the half door, the build quality, the Swindon dealership, the interior and the fact that it does not look like a ruddy Golf – or Toyotanissankia thingy!
    Long live individualism!

  71. The Mini is a massive success. It’s not really my bag, but it sells well, has saved 5000 jobs at Cowley and exports are high. It wasn’t that long ago Cowley looked like it was finished and Johnny Foreigner wasn’t interested in the Austin Montego.( Come to think of it neither were many people over here).People I know who have the new Mini generally love them and keep trading them in for new ones.

  72. Now the good lady has told me off for my comments about people’s writing skills.
    Apologies to all – insensitive and unnecessary……and as she will be only too pleased to tell you, I can’t spell for a toffee!
    Still love the little Beemer mini though.

  73. THE Mini was a genuinely innovative design from the gearbox in sump packaging, the body seams outside to liberate more interior space and even the dangly rear numberplate (so you could drive with the boot lid open and still be legal). Never mind the huge door bins and string door pulls and minimal instruments.

    The original was a roller skate on wheels, just 3054mm long x 1397 wide whereas the bloater is 3699mm long x 1913 wide. For those who think in English, the new one is a whole 2 feet longer and a massive 18″ wider.

    In contrast the BINI is just a tarted up Peugeot 206, a bit like an Essex girl in a designer frock and white high heels. Taking one bit at a time:
    * It’s bloated outside and has minimal interior space
    * The heater and minor controls are an ergonomic disaster
    * The instruments are contrived in the extreme
    * It’s expensive other than the poverty spec base model

    In fact, the only things it has in common with THE Mini is that it rusts and it isn’t that reliable.

    I would agree with previous writers that the VW UP and siblings and even the Toyota Aygo are the modern Minis. The BINI is just a facsimile of the original drawn by an 11 year old wearing pink ribbons in her ponytail.

  74. To reiterate

    On the evergreen MINI size question:
    Overall Length:
    MINI (Mk1 2001-06) = 3626 mm
    Fiesta (2002-08) = 3918 mm
    Corsa (2003-06) = 3839 mm
    Yaris (1999-05) = 3640 mm
    Clio (2001-08) = 3812 mm

    Volkswagen Up! = 3540mm
    Fiat 500 = 3546mm
    MINI Mk2 = 3714mm

  75. I would have bought one if only it had 5 seat belts. so we bought a 318 instead. other than I like the new Mini, people can harp on about it not being a real mini if they want,,,,but the old mini was past its use by date, wasnt safe, while it was fun it was still noisey inside and problematic allround. the new mini is still all the fun and its quiet and reliable and the supercharged one is a real hoot and it still looks better than many other small cars (the quesiton is how will the next variant look?) .alex

  76. @95 Quote:
    “the body seams outside to liberate more interior space and even the dangly rear numberplate (so you could drive with the boot lid open and still be legal).”

    The classic Mini body seams were not to liberate more space they were simply supposed to ease manufacture in third world countries….but as that never happened in the end they just became a further rust trap…but of course part of the Mini’s character.
    The ‘dangly’ numberplate was dropped with the 1969 Mk3 Mini to prevent driver/passengers breathing in exhaust fumes with the boot open, as the rear bulkhead was never sealed!

    Sometimes the weak points of a car design are what adds character!…..many R50 MINI owners like myself have grown to love the whining sound of the Rover specified EHPS Electro-Hydraulic steering pump, despite the failure of many early pumps! The characteristic MINI whine has however gone on Mk2 R56 MINI’s with their fully electric steering assistance!

  77. @tony 95. On the money fella. The peugeot is half price. Same engines….I doubt the french car will rust. My bini was junk.

  78. Does anybody know why the VIN number of the New Mini starts with W instead of S?. Cowley where the BWM MINI is assembled is in the UK, not in Germany, isn’t it?.
    The mini having a lot of French parts including the PSA 1.6L engine, I reckon the VIN should start with V.

  79. @ Martin 100

    Totally agree. As an R50 owner I Love the power steering noise.

    I have an early 2004 Mini. I’m pretty sure it has a Rover gearbox, because I have to double the clutch to engage reverse a lot! Nonetheless the gearbox has a fantastic feel to it. Partially because gear changing is quite heavy and you can really feel the gears slot into position. I don’t know whether it was designed to be more sensual, but go and drive any other mass manufactured car and the gearbox will most likely be as light as a feather to change and dull.

  80. #95 Alex Moulton declared the Toyota Iq as the successor to the Issigonis mini. Same footprint, bodyshell and bonnet redesigned to modern safety standards, including pedestrian impact considerations.

    The eulogy for Dr Moulton concerning his vehicle engineering years, revealed work with Toyota at Bradford on Avon, Toyota evaluating interconnected suspension between front and rear wheels, the Iq as the beneficiary, it was not implemented, we will have to wait, Toyota may pursue those ideas in future vehicles.

  81. @104, It would be interesting to see such a system on a car now,with it being simple and efective-it turned the Rover Metro into the best handling supermini in its class.
    @103 It sounds like the gear selector turret on your car is on its way out. (£176)
    @102, Its a BMW/PSA engine- with the familiar valtronic set up.Not the best engine around.

  82. BMW to PSA: “You Owe us 50 Million Euros”
    http://www.motoringfile.com/2012/10/25/bmw-to-psa-you-owe-us-50-million-euros/

    BMW has revealed its new three-cylinder petrol engine, destined for the 1-Series, 3-Series and next year’s new MINI Mk3
    http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/bmw-three-cylinder-engine-revealed

    Toyota IQ sales figures in the UK so far suggest it is not likely to beome a successor to the Issigonis Mini any time soon……the few I have seen on the roads seem to be mostly driven by Traffic Wardens with a spy camera on the roof. 🙂

    2008 – 7
    2009 – 2637
    2010 – 1183
    Figures for 2011 total TAXED/SORN was 4151

  83. The old Mini was an anachronism that should have died in 1980, the Mini Metro being its logical successor, and the new Mini a successful update of the original. Some people might get misty eyed about the original, but it was lethal in a crash, extremely noisy, outdated by the seventies, a rust bucket and not very reliable. It would be the same as Fiat keeping the original 500 in production after 1974.

  84. Please can I cause more trouble.

    Toyota IQ is horrible. Her nibs brought one and kept it 3 months.

    Not very economical….mid 40s….gutless….3rd gear on inclines often and really spongy breaks.

    Useless on motorways.

    Her nibs chopped it for a diesel megane that she loves.

    The original Mini was great to drive, moved some (or felt like it did) and had bags of torque.

  85. @102

    Purely logical, without meaning to sound negative:

    The VIN starts with a W because BMW are based in Germany.

    Same as GM vehicles built in Belgium, Spain etc. carry the GM Europe/Opel ‘W’ code.

    I agree that some models should carry a ‘V’

    VA-VE Austria

  86. @86
    You miss the point I was trying to make, which was that BMW are exploiting a name (MINI). They had no involvemet with the creation of the original car and retained ownership of the trademark when they sold off what was left of the old Rover group.

    At least the other examples you mentioned are still produced by their original creators albeit in a 21st century form.

  87. Chrisk – were Rover and Land Rover exploiting the V8 engine they bought from Buick by calling it the Rover V8 when they had absolutely nothing to do with its original design and development?

    BMW bought Rover and therefore from that moment on owned it and all its trademarks. They’re not exploiting anything. They are using a brand name they own to sell a product they have created with their own resource. It’s called business, I’m afraid.

    Whether you agree with BMW’s decision to throw money at Rover and leave them to make their own decisions before pulling out when it all went tits up is another thing! But in business terms they are doing nothing wrong and have every right to sell the car under the MINI brand name.

  88. @114 Chrisk
    Rover who were a large luxury car maker had no part whatsoever in creating the original Mini, nor did BL….it was not until 1969 when British Leyland (who had bought Rover earlier in 1968) took over BMC that Rover and the Mini even became part of the same group!

    Also other examples of cars in 21st century form but no longer owned by their original creators, such as Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Routemaster Bus, London Taxi must also just exploiting a name?

    Like most modern car companies Fiat and VW also own many other marques which were nothing to do with them originally so I guess your argument also applies to VW owning Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti…..not to mention Fiat owning Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari. 🙂

  89. @116 – the exploiting them bit is buying Britain’s last volume manufacturer picking the bits you want to keep – selling off other bit (for huge profit) then chucking the rest away is exploitation. Especially as many of the “losses” used as an excuse to dump Rover (Hamms Hall plant, new plant at Oxford, Rover R30 (Gen 2 BMW 1 Series and new MINI)) are current and future money making engines for BMW.

    If BMW wanted Rover to be a success they wouldn’t have questioned the future of Rover on the day of the 75’s launch, they would have fixed the k-series (which Ricardo engineering has since done for peanuts), they wouldn’t have charged Rover far more for identical parts than BMW paid internally after moving lots of Rover parts manufacture to their own plants, they wouldn’t have stolen R30 saddling Rover with the cost of developing a Rover 200 replacement twice, they wouldn’t have charged Rover a fortune for use of their own engines post Phoenix. BMW asset-striped and dumped Rover in order to get into the SUV and super-mini sectors – in hindsight it was clearly the plan all along. Buying Rover also killed the industry speculation that BMW (then manufacturer of the same shrinking-sector car in three different sizes) were about to be taken over themselves – buying Rover saved BMW – not the other way round.

    I wouldn’t have a BMW product – including MINI – if you paid me. I also do my best make BMW and MINI driver’s lives more difficult on the road, blocking them at junctions and stopping them pulling out on motorways. B******* to BMW and all those who drive them.

  90. @117 – you are entitled to your own opinions which I respect but with all the BMW’s and MINI’s on the road you must get quite stressed on your journeys if you constantly do your best to block them at junctions and stop them pulling out on motorways. Also could be very dangerous?
    I personally let anyone out at junctions if it helps a fellow motorist on their way and smoothes the traffic flow regardless of the make or model of car.

  91. @116
    I used to own a MG Midget Mk1 1962 and years after an Austin Metro 1.3L HLE 1985. Few friends had old Minis at the time I got those cars. The old Minis were nippy cars but they broke down on the side of the road more often than any other car I know. The old Mini, as the Austin Metro got from my point of view the worst suspension ever invented in the world. I never got engine heating problems with the MG Midget, it had the 948 cc engine, but once it was placed in transversal position in the old Mini with the radiator on the side, that engine was turned into a British kettle. I am down under where summer heat could bring temperatures for weeks above 35C.

    I was about to buy a New Mini because the Germans turned it into a reliable car, but the fact they still have timing belts made me changed the decision for a German assembled Ford Focus with a 2 L Ecoboost engine without timing belt.

    Get over it, Rover is OVER due to poor management and lack of vision into the future without investing in development. Soon BMW New Mini will have 1.5 L engines made out of three 500 cc individual modules, four of them will make 2 L engines, and cars will be assembled after they are ordered by customers who loves the looks and the driving of the New Mini, and for sure most of them never had own an old Mini before.

    You should be glad BMW employs bucket loads of people in France, UK and many other locations around the world making Mini car parts, putting thosecparts together, selling and servicing huge number of New Minis. For sure if the Minis were still made under British management, the people making them will spend more time in strikes than putting car parts together.

    By the way, I currently own a MG ZR 160 2005 that I barely drive, and my reliable daily driver is a French 306 Peugeot 1.8 L 1996, I abused as much as I can, and it is really unbreakable. Once the Peugeot is broken, I will get the Focus. Lucky me you cannot block me while driving despite the mark or model of the car I am in.

  92. Whats the more remarkable fact about the New MINI. They are making more cars now than they ever made when the real Mini was in its heyday. Well over 200,000 made in Oxford. Every one selling at a big profit and giving thousands of paid jobs. if the UK Govt. could persuade BMW to revive one more British Marque. BMW still have Riley, Triumph and possibly Morris. A decent 4 door saloon based underneath on the 2 series Coupe or 3 series saloon. Look at how Vauxhall has a better market share in UK than Opel has in Germany, due in part to vauxhall making the Astra in the UK. A UK produced quality family saloon would sell well.
    Going back to someone who claims that Renault make better cars than MINI or BMW, complete rubbish. Renault have a terrible reputation for bad quality, reliability. No wonder they are in trouble in 2013 and have given up on selling bigger models. My MINI was completely reliable, and likewise my next 2 BMW 3 series. MINI may not be quite perfect but its built up a reputation that reverses the terrible reputation of the BL years. And the 3 series as a base for a Riley saloon? Well the 3 series is the best car in its class, also sells in huge numbers ( like the Mini) a recipe for success!

  93. @John – November 11, 2013

    SAIC own Morris, would be interesting to see that marque used for importing Roewes, comfort based rather than sporty MG. Could sell well to those who might otherwise buy a Japanese or Korean small car.

    Would be interesting if BMW had used the Triumph name, the Dolomite was the 3 series of it’s day. A new TR could be built based on an outgoing Z-car.

    People knock Renault then go out and buy Qashcows – the current model being based on a Megane platform and with Renault DCi engines…
    I even laughed at our local MINI dealer, as he tried to be snobby and said that they were a cut above the likes of Peugeot (check your engine’s origin!).

    Renault only gave up on big cars in the UK – in Ireland you can still buy a Laguna, or even a Fluence (like a Megane saloon, diesel engine – huge seller to fleets). Go to France and you can buy the executive Renault Latitude. The UK turns their noses up at such offerings that aren’t SUVs, hence why only the Capture is offered.

    I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from BMW owners with blown engines, injectors, turbos etc. so I wouldn’t say that the germans are immune to reliability issues. Modern cars are so complex that some failure is sometimes inevitable.

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