Written on: 10/02/2002 by Ade Pepin.
Looks, performance, Kudos, ride, handling, Cool Factor, Pleasure to own, Smile Factor.
Waiting for the ache in the cheeks to subside after every drive. Continuous smiling can take a while to wear off.
So, we needed to upgrade my wifes 325i Touring and our 2nd car no longer needed to be an estate. The search was on for the successor. While strolling around the BMW dealership while picking up my car after a service (a scrumptious BMW 540i Sport, reviewed elsewhere @ reviewcentre.com), I stumbled across The New Mini display area which had me immediately hooked. I had to think about the Clio, persuade myself that a Peugeot was a possibility, force myself to find a focus and just did not want a V.Wagen or Vauxhall. The Mini it was for me - All that was left was the task of persuading the wife. Not a massive problem then, I hoped.
Leaving the brochures spread around the house all week did the trick. A casual glance on a sunday morning a week later over tea kick-started the complimentary comments and within an two hours we were at the dealership ordering another £4,000 worth of the extras we wanted on top of the £10,300 price following a test drive in a Cooper.
As I write 2000 miles later the little smile that was always there when you get in has gone. It is now a massive grin 'cos you know what you are in for.
Massive over-engineering means that the Mini always feels totally confident and in charge of everything you ask of it. The faultless handling and pin sharp turn in leave you wandering why you even considered an all style and no substance of one puggish competitor, the solid build confirms that the createur d'auto's would have been 3rd best and the performance, ride and comfort kicks the remainder into touch. The Focus options are not even in the same league for this type of car although price considerations would change the ranking. The Mini is Car of the Year quite rightly and for all the right reasons. If you think it's a bit too much - keep saving and buy one later - it is head and shoulders above all it's competition and you will tire much sooner of their 'style over substance'. Mini has style, substance and perhaps in most abundance, Character.
The extra £4k? We went for air-con, cream leather, extra airbages, MiniDisc, 6 changer CD, Massive wheels and chrome bits amongst loads of other stuff. Worth every penny.
I could tell you about all the boring things - consumption, technical achievements, emissions, tiny niggles (2) and a long list of very satisfying angles BUT - that would be completely missing the major Mini point. Read the brochures if that's what you are looking for. What I can tell you right here is the stuff that brochures can't cover . .that of all the cars I have ever owned, The Mini is possibly the most accomplished car at making life more Fun. Capital F.
How much is that worth as an extra? If you are spending between £10k and £12k on a new motor, buy the Mini. You'll never regret it.
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