BMW seem increasingly desperate to prove that they understand the concept of irony. Despite the last MINI being anything but, particularly as increasingly bloated niche models were tacked onto the line-up, they’ve now released details of the next MINI – and it’s bigger than ever!
Now it may be easy to pick on the chubby kid with the ungainly features but just hold back for a second. Yes, the MINI continues to look like a grotesquely inflated parody of its illustrious ancestor but that doesn’t mean that it deserves the abuse it’s been getting on the internet. The all-new model seems to have woken the trolls and they’re looking for blood, even if they’ve not thought of any new arguments.
“It’s not a Mini” they cry. No, funnily enough it’s not. Car design has moved on a bit in the last fifty years. Don’t forget that the new MINI is designed to meet all manner of crash and emissions regulations. Have an accident in a new MINI and you stand a good chance of walking away with little more than tinnitus from the explosion of the airbags. Have an accident in an old MINI and … well, imagine chucking a beef steak into a blender. It’s messy. You get the idea.
“It’s not as clever as the original”, they moan. It’s true to say that Sir Alec Issigonis worked wonders on the original, cramming a practical car into very little space. In that respect the newer car is lagging behind thanks to a very conventional layout but there’s a lot of cutting edge technology to be found inside. New engines with more power and better economy, touch-screen infotainment systems, even a heads-up display. They’re the sort of technological advances that paying customers expect.
“But it’s not British anymore, it’s owned by the Germans” is another familiar complaint. Didn’t we do a great job at looking after the Mini name? From a slow start under BMC, through the glory years under Austin to a slow and lingering death under Rover. At least BMW stepped in and breathed fresh life into the MINI, turning it into the right car for the times while investing massively in the UK. The Cowley Plant at Oxford secures over 3,700 jobs and produces 900 MINIs a day while the engine plant at Hams Hall will be responsible for producing the new range of engines. In fact, from 2012 through to 2015, BMW will have invested £750 million in their UK MINI operations. MINI may be in German hands but as far as British jobs are concerned they’re a much safer bet than the ‘good old days’.
So how about you stop picking on the MINI? It may not be small, it may not be pretty and it may not be built like it used to be. What you need to accept is that’s not a bad thing.