When is a mini not a mini?

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As a bit of a car fan I am always interested when a new car hits the streets, be it a super car or a ‘normal’ car. It has also become apparent over the last 10 years that most of the successful manufacturers have returned to classic names or designs to sell cars. It is this trend that I have an issue with!  

The first big example of this was the ‘BMW Mini’, I cannot bring myself to call it a mini as that is a British design masterpiece from the 1960 developed by BMC through the genius that was Alec Issigonis. We don’t see many original minis these days, and most young kids have not had the pleasure of experiencing one – but they were a piece of genius in terms of packaging and great fun!     

Following on from this we have the Fiat 500 – the original was equal to the mini – the new one is a tarted up Panda (a better car in terms of packaging again!). Audi (the A1 – such imagination in names), Citroen (reviving the DS name – although nothing like as clever as the ‘proper’ DS) and Alfa (the Mito) have also developed ‘premium’ small cars so there must be a market – but how far can you push it?     

When the mini was first released by BMW it was a bit of a slap in the face for the UK car industry as it had been broadly developed by Rover group before their demise – perhaps it would have saved them? It also never ceases to amaze me how big the new mini is, and how little room it has inside (it can only really seat 2 adults)! Without doubt it is an appalling car to use such a famous name (not that this has stopped it selling!)     

But now BMW appear to be taking the piss!     

small car? - that will be the one on the right.

The new Mini Countryman is a family sized car made in the current mini shape – imagine a mini that has been blown up!     

Now I am aware that the designers at BMW are having a rough time at the moment! Many of their current range are frankly pig ugly –  One series, Six series and the GT range to name but a few. But this is just something else!   

I do feel that the German manufacturers are heading towards a ‘British Leyland’ scenario – they have lots af cars but few of them are anything special – and many are such cynical attempts to use old names and kudos that they deserve to fail.     

The new Mini Countryman is one such car.    

A real mini countryman

Oh, and THIS is a mini countryman!    

Ok, the real wood on the rear is a bit ‘1970’s’ but the overall feel of the original mini was kept – and it was still small and cleverly packaged – need I say more?   

And yes I am feeling grumpy!

UPDATE 8th October 2010

Ok, so perhaps I was being a tad unkind when I wrote this? I decided today to have a ‘quick look’ at one at Sytners as I was driving past.

And if I am honest – its worse than I thought in the flesh! It is also really poor in the back – the seat is so low you have your knees around your ears! (Just like BMW’s X1)

BMW's inspiration!

And the driving position is rubbish as well – the steering wheel comes out of the dash at an angle that would feel fine for a 3 year old with a ‘cosy coupe’!

Final verdict – yuk! (although perhaps in red with a yellow roof it might look right?)

10 thoughts on “When is a mini not a mini?

    John Lyle said:
    October 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I think it looks lovely and I want one!

    Simon Dare responded:
    October 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    You should have gone to Specsavers!

    sshof said:
    October 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I think the thing that made the Mini such an icon was it’s size (the clue is in the name)… A big Mini mini just doesn’t work for me… It’s become a “Largie”, and that just ain’t right!

      Simon Dare responded:
      October 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      I suggested to the salesman at Sytners that it was a modern version of the ‘maxi’ (if you remember that BL car) – strangely he didn’t see the joke!

        sshof said:
        October 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

        I do remember it, yes… Strangely I have fond-ish memories of it – namely because we used to cram two families c/w luggage into my uncle’s for day trips and what-not. He had a tangeringe coloured automatic version, which had the acceleration of a milk float and the braking capacity of a Raleigh Chipper… Especially with 8 humans stuffed into it!

        Simon Dare responded:
        October 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

        Probably one of BL’s better attempts at a car in the 1970′. It had a hatch back and 5 gears if I remember correctly!

        sshof said:
        October 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm

        PS… “Tangeringe” isn’t a new colour I’ve just invented, I did of course mean “Tangerine” :-}

        Adrian said:
        October 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

        Indeed it did. Here it is in all it’s “glory”… http://www.aronline.co.uk/index.htm?ado14storyf.htm

    sshof said:
    October 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    PPS… Just realised I was logged into my friends WordPress account, hence why I’m being identified as “SSHOF”… Today is not going so great, if you haven’t already noticed! 😉

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