I like to think that AROnline is about as supportive as it comes when it comes to MINI, and its model development. The 2001 R50 generation MINI emerged as a Rover-feeling product that most of us could get on with (those who hated then still hate today) – it proved a success, and soon, the company added a convertible version (R53).
In 2006, the second generation MINI arrived, and it was a clever evolution of what came before. I remember travelling down to the launch in Barcelona in a Volkswagen Polo GTi to do battle with the latest MINI, and after a day in the mountains, came to a simple conclusion. The MINI trounced the Polo. But after the dust had settled, it was easy to see that some of the Mini-ness had been synthesized out – and I remember clearly saying to my colleague on the jaunt that actually, it felt more like a small BMW to drive that what came before.
Still, that meant it was – and is – a cracking driver’s car.
And MINI capitalised on this. The Clubman was the next version to arrive (I actually adore its quirkiness), followed by the Convertible. Then, the Austrian-built Countryman joined the party – and it was at this point, the MINI marque should have been stretched to incorporate Maxi (yes, it really should have), but oh no, they called it the Countryman (which really is what the Clubman should have been called). Then came the Coupe and Roadster – followed by the Paceman.
And to me – who has bought a plain, boggo, and quite brilliant MINI First, remember – each time an additional model swelled the ranks, a little more MINI DNA was lost in the process. But again, this is progress (2012 Porsche 991 feels rather distant from a 1963 911 after all), and cars get bigger and heavier as customers demand more equipment, pace and safety. It’s a trade-off, and a simple one that nearly every manufacturer has embraced.
But while this has been going on, it’s felt as if the marketing department has felt the need to compensate for the loss of this overall Mini-ness by concocting an increasing number of special editions and ever-expensive high performance versions. And it’s felt that with each new edition (generally named after one borough of London or another), AROnline’s readership has increasingly lost its patience. When the Paceman JCW arrived earlier this month, it was met with such hostility, I ended up taking the story off the front page early…
But still I was okay. After all, it’s progress isn’t it.
However, I think I may have been presented with the straw that was capable of breaking this most sturdy of spines. You’ve already guessed from the image above that the ‘loveable’ marketeers have decided to plunder our heritage in the most awful way by recreating the lovely 1986-87 ‘Minis have feelings too’ advert. I don’t know why, but reprising this, re-making it with new MINIs has really annoyed me.
I think, perhaps, it’s because I know they can do so much better. When you think about the launch advertising back in 2001 (‘It’s a MINI adventure’) – and how forward looking it was – this reversion to nostalgia is both disappointing and distasteful. And lazy. Oh so lazy. Sorry for this mini-rant (sorry) so close to Christmas, but come on: MINI, stop it. Stop it now.
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.