Product Type: BMW cars
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The Girlfriend's Mini One......
BMW Mini One
Member Name: ShapeShifter
BMW Mini One
Date: 03/01/03, updated on 09/05/05 (4456 review reads)
Advantages: Sticks to the road like glue, Fun to drive, Good warranty (you might need it)
Disadvantages: Cramped, Could have been so much more innovative
For me, it wasn't the Italian Job that gave it kudos, it was a fabled race between a Ferrari and a Monte Carlo Cooper works Mini. The Mini couldn't beat the Ferrari in a straight line but it did easily on the twists and turns of the Turin proving tracks. The Mini won. Enzo Ferrari was reported to say 'If it wasn't so ugly, I'd give up making cars for good.'
Now we have the new Mini, designed by an American, a Latin American engine, built with German money and a German car company by British car workers after one hell of a argument and the near demise of Britain's last car manufacturer.
And my girlfriend likes it too.
So I told her it was a blot on the Mini name but she was having none of it, she doesn't even like the film the Italian Job but the new MINI looks cute in red apparently.
I must admit, it has a certain retro charm but none of the innovation that led to so many imitators from the original Mini. Do I drive it? Yes I have put on a few hundred or so miles when we've taken her car for a weekend away and she didn't feel like driving home. Typical ;)
Well, it was a good job it was a weekend away as the boot is tiny. The original boot wasn't great either but this Mini is much larger. It easily breaks Mini design credo 1, no car should be longer than 10 feet. This is. It's not really much smaller than a Ford Focus, my sister's boyfriend has one of those and it has a much bigger boot.
So, I'm sat in this car, I'm 5' 10'
;' and it is relatively comfortable to sit in. The pedals are shifted to the left a bit and so is the wheel from dead centre of my body. In typical small car fashion the pdeals are quite tiny, they will not suit broad feet. I clipped the brake pedal putting my foot down on the clutch. The seats are somewhat adjustable but the lumber support is awful.
The dash is retro Mini, big central dial. This was done to save money in the original not a design feature, this is pointless and I wasn't use to it. The rest of the switches were good and the fogs were well labelled for example. Because of the speedo and as it is noiser inside than I am used to I could drive it on revs alone. Incidentally, the dash is the only part of the car design by a Brit. Rover inherited the rest of the car design from Munich after much bitter recrimination about the engineering and the subsequent BMW straitjacket placed on them as a result.
The engine is lively enough but then it should be, this is a 1.6L lump! developing an so-so 90bhp but it's noisy to make progress and requires some nifty electronics to manage economy (more later) It is nippy enough to propel the Mini quickly and I have to say this is the most fun you will get as close to the original, the suspension has obviously be given a lot of though, it is pliant when needed but has enough stiffness to handle tight bends at speed. I must admit to a big smile reapplying power coming out of a chevroned turn as I slingshot it out of the bend. But then, this thing has a version of BMW's Z-axle at the rear, the one thing BMW have done is place most of the weight of the car over the front wheels offering about a 60:40 split. It's a good job, it really feels like a heavy car. The handling is great though and the power steering is very clever to, only switched on when needed (like parking).
The stereo isn't bad either but the BMW bumf said 'it was engineered specifically for the
MINI's interior acoustics'. This means liberal use of speakers in a small area. If you've ever driven a new MINI with the stereo switched off, you'll know why. The road roar off the tyres is quite loud as is wind noise at speed. As this is regarded as 'white' noise, it is easily muffled by some well positioned speakers ;)
But it's the rest of it, for the size of it, it is cramped when this thing has the same wheelbase as a Landrover Discovery. You will not get two adults in the back without a 'can we stop to stretch our legs?' after an hour.
All in all, yes it is fun to sling it about a bit but at over £10,000 and in the practicality stakes against performance I'd rather have seen her go for a few grand more, a secondhand Lotus Elise. But that's my preference and they are hard to find in red apparently.
She's had it eight months, put 4,000 miles on it and its been recalled twice and also in the garage as well.
Remember the smart electronics unit I mentioned? Somehow and don't ask me how, this thing got wet and it fused, no go at all and a two week wait for a repair. Luckily she'd taken the care package and it was under warranty but wet electrics!!!???. Maybe somethings don't change and this is something closer to the original Mini.
Other than that, this is style over content. If anyone bought the Mini Cooper and paid the four grand premium, did you know apart from the trim changes, the only difference in performance is a remapped ECU chip, available to a Mini One as a retrofit for £400.
Like I say style over content and I know another car that everyone went 'Ahhh! Isn't it cute?' about..... The revised Beetle. Thing is, would you be seen dead in one of those now? That to me is where the new Mini will end up. Shame really but that's BMW's problem not mine.