Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MINI Cooper

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MINI Cooper

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Donaldson

YOU really wouldn't want to be a designer on the next MINI model.

Change almost anything and voices will be raised in protest. Don't do anything, and someone else will complain.

Best then to just get on with things and let modern thinking help where it can, but otherwise keep the essence of MINI intact.

Which is what the team tasked with the latest version of the MINI hatchback has done. It looks a lot like the outgoing model (if a bit longer, wider and taller) and drives like, well... a MINI should.

In the process, the MINI has grown up a bit. It now takes a more mature approach to things like room in the rear (big enough for a couple of adults without a squeeze) and rides like the powered skateboard of fond memory, but with a new-found layer of comfort added.

Some will say it's too big to honour the MINI ideals, others will counter that we're bigger than adults of half a century ago and rather like our cars to keep us safer in an accident too, inevitably adding bulk in the process.

Yes, you can't win. What the sceptics need is a decent drive in the latest MINI Cooper, tested here and easily good enough to turn the sneer of a modern MINI unbeliever into a deposit at the nearest dealership.

Everything you can see, and everything you can't, is new with this latest model, including a three-cylinder engine that adds a properly sporty note to proceedings while producing a car that's eager to perform.

It's a car that simply begs to be driven with vigour, when it turns into a proper little fun car, complete with positive steering and gearchange and the sort of ability to change direction that's more driver's thought process than muscle movement.

That, above all, shows the bloodline of the MINI continues unbroken from mark one in 1959 to mark three today. Except passengers get a much better deal nowadays and the car won't be falling to pieces around you.

Today's car, as well as being so much faster than the first ones (wildly so, actually) also uses less fuel in the process. …

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