The end of british motoring
I was at the Dutch Design Week and the future of MINI was there as well.
Ah the United Kingdom. The country that is known for having many famous chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey while at the same time known for having flavourless terrible food. When we think of british motoring we might think of an Aston Martin dbs, Jaguar e-type, Lotus exige, Triumph spitfire or perhaps a Jensen interceptor, but there is one that I think defines british motoring; the Mini.
The first Morris Mini Minor rolled of the production line in 1959. A few years later in 1961 John Cooper decided to make a fast version the first Austin Mini Cooper and Minor Mini Cooper were born. The Mini Cooper won the rally of Mote Carlo in 1964, 1965 and 1967. You have to remember that at this point in time the farther of the hot hatchback, Volkswagen, was making the first Porsche 911; the beetle. The beetle, a car designed by no other than Ferdinand Porsche from a country that had invented the Autobahn without speedlimits, the Nürburgring, Blitzkrieg, and yet they made that car slower than an actual beetle. In 1999 the Mini was the runner up in the Global car of the century award and first in the European car of the century award. No wonder then that Mr. Bean, after crashing a red 1969 Mini in the very first episode, decided to buy a green 1977 Mini with a black bonnet.
In recent years the brand MINI has been owned by BMW. They have transformed the brand from a Mr. Bean type to a Reg Park type (Reg Park was an English bodybuilder, actor and mentor of Arnold Schwarzenegger). They have made some very lovely cars with the Mini One, Mini Cooper and especially with the Mini Cooper S. The current Mini Cooper S is a 178 hp hot hatch available with a 6 speed manuel gearbox. This symphony of ingredients is better known as the recipe for happiness in the car persons cook book. It looks brilliant with the only downside being the union jack lights rear lights, a bit too british for something that's designed in Germany in my opinion. Nonetheless, it may be one of the best hot hatchbacks on the market right now.
So obviously, I was very excited to be visiting the Dutch Design week in Eindhoven a while back where they presented the MINI Vision Urbanaut. You'd think something that was made by the same people who did the Mini Cooper S and seem to combine the words urban and astronaut would make a spaceshuttle with hatchback to drive in London. They did not make that.
They made this wanne be van that has the same beautiful looks the Habsburgs were known for. Even the Urbanauts face looks horrified of its own appearance. However, I think MINI disagrees with me on this one. MINI see themselves as the enabler of and companion for unforgetable moments. They call those moments; "MINI moments". This was inspired by the question and I quote; "What kind of experieces do I want with my car?" The MINI Vision Urbanaut uses three curated MINI moments: Chill, Wanderlust and Vibe. Acoording to MINI, the exterior and interior will change to reflect the MINI moment at hand and give the experience the best possible stage. There's more, the development team tried to use as little raw materials as possible and reduce the number of components. They made the interior out of materials that are almost entirely renewable, recyclable or already recycled. Very vegan.
It seems like MINI doesn't want to make rally cars, hot hatches or Mr. Beans car anymore. It seems they want to brexit affordable and fun motoring and make a van for environmentalists. In an attempt to stay optimistic; it might be fun to see them try to out hippie the Volkswagen Transporter.
Thanks for reading and comment your thoughts!