Does the modern Mini deserve to be called Mini?
Minis have always been an icon in the motoring world, back in the fifties when Alec Issigonis designed the Mini for British Leyland, it was absolutely groundbreaking. All four wheels were pushed to the edges of the four corners, the engine sat transversely instead of longitudinally, rubber donuts were also used. All of those things combine, make for a small car on the outside and surprisingly, enough room for four inside. It was the perfect car for the age of oil starvation.
It was also classless, people rich and poor owned Minis. Steve McQueen had one, so did Enzo Ferrari, so did Mick Jagger. Rowan Atkinson even drove a yellow one with a matte bonnet on the famous show Mr. Bean. That was how popular the classic Mini is. It is undoubtedly a cool car.
Rover, the people who made the Mini in the nineties, of course, was bought by BMW in 1994. And part of that deal was the MINI brand. And when they sold Rover in 2000, the MINI brand stayed with BMW and created this new lineup of 'new-age MINI'.
There are currently numerous models under the brand MINI, there is the Countryman, which is this posh crossover that will presumably never go offroad, there's the Clubman which harks back to the original Clubman in the last century, and of course there's the convertible MINI and the three and five-door MINI.
Most MINI nowadays are usually fine cars. They are drive well, they all look somewhat similar, but that is to-be expected in this day and age, and they all cost reasonably. There's just one single problem - the brand MINI. Are they really MINI?
I once saw the new Countryman in the motorways of Hong Kong when driving the Supervan (it's the nickname of my Vellfire if you don't already know), and my goodness is this thing massive. The Supervan is a tall, fat minivan and this thing was nearly as tall and wide as the van!
The Clubman is even worse. It's supposed to be a cool estate car that pays tributes to the Clubman of old, but just look at the side profile. None of the proportion is right. None. The nose is too long, the rear half looks like a stretched limo, and is it MINI? Hell no it isn't.
The Cabriolet may be a cute car, but that graffiti at the back shouts everything wrong with this car: it's a hairdressers' car. It looks good, but the back seats are too cramp for anybody older than 5, the boot is way too small and it's for people who knows nothing about cars. Because if you drive a convertible, chances are this is your second car and you want something good fun to drive, so the best choice would be an MX-5, and not this, come on.
The regular hatch is actually the most MINI in the lineup, because it is relatively small for a European hatchback. It is very darty round bends too, and it snors on upshifts for the hotter versions, much like every other hot hatch on the market.
However, it's just not small enough. You can just see the MINI growing fatter and fatter generation by generation, it started off like humpty dumpty, and ended up like an overweight child that thinks he's cute. Yet he's not, and so is the new MINI. BMW is trying too hard, and they just overly styled it no end. Sorry BMW, you MINI is not MINI anymore. It's turned middle-aged.
Fortunately, because the classic Mini scene is so big, there are now companies like David Brown that reimagines and restores these old Minis back to 'better-than-new' condition. And thanks to the aftermarket support of these babies, if you can't afford to pay the ginormous £100k price tag of these bad boys, you can pick one up on the cheap and customize the classic Minis to tailor your taste. So at least the Mini lives on.