Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

'Must Have' Fashion Item

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

'Must Have' Fashion Item

Article excerpt

Byline: {Ewan Kennedy} {}

The new MINI has been a success in most markets around the world, despite the doomsayers who said it would be a passing fad when it was launched here in 2002.

There are two reasons for this, firstly the MINI (spelled in capital letters to differentiate it from the original Mini of the 1950s, '0s and '70s) can arguably be called a direct descendent of the old car. This is unlike some other retro machines, the new VW Beetle and new Fiat 500 are the obvious examples, which are totally different from their forebears in mechanical makeup.

Even more importantly, brilliant marketing of the MINI has seen it become a must-have fashion item among quite a large number of owners. To the extent that the MINI is customised to an amazing extent.

It's all but impossible to see two identical cars on the road, just about every one having something that no other has. Some of the prices paid are staggering, with the most expensive new MINI in Australia to date topping $100,000.

These are great little cars to drive, just the sort that will have keen drivers getting out of bed early of a Sunday to take it for a blast along their favourite piece of road.

Just as they, or their fathers, did in the 1960s when the original incarnation of the Cooper S was the hottest small car on the road. Either that, or getting together with other MINI enthusiasts to go for a cruise to a cafe, beach location or anywhere else that takes their fancy at the time.

Two versions of the MINI are sold in Australia, that is the top two, as the lower cost model (called MINI One) isn't imported here. The Cooper S is the hotshot, having its 1.6-litre engine supercharged in early formats - pre March 2007 and turbocharged from then onwards.

We really like the supercharged engine, because its torque comes in virtually instantly, whereas the turbo unit inevitably has a slight lag before delivering its all. Best of all, the supercharged engine has a glorious shriek, the sort of sound that can make the hairs on the back of a keen driver's neck stand on end.

Externally, you can pick the Cooper S by the bonnet slot for the intercooler, its chromed side grille and fuel-filler cap, a small wing protruding from the rear of the roof, twin exhausts and larger (16-inch) alloy wheels. …

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