This story was started while sitting on a flight from Abu Dhabi to London, my destination for the now-completed launch of the new Mini five-door.
Cue the wails of purists calling for a return to a bygone ethos, one perfected by Sir Alec Issigonis with his original Mini of the 1950s. This is notwithstanding the fact that Mini made a five-door prototype in 1957.
‘Not another Mini spin-off’, many will cry. We’ve seen a helmet-headed Coupe, a suicide-doored Clubman, a pokey little SUV called the Countryman and even a two-door derivation of that car called the Paceman.
No way could Michael Caine hurl one of these bad boys around narrow Turin (edit) streets.
But now Mini has gone a step even further. Each of these other cars were spinoffs, like a supporting cast member of a sitcom getting their own show. And as our pop culture followers will know, sometimes these experiments yield a Frasier (good) and sometimes they yield a Joey (bad).
But this latest addition to the Mini family is ostensibly worse. It’s a version of the classic Mini hatch, just with an extra pair of doors. It could be said to take this brand-altering approach further than any step before it. A bad cover of a Rolling Stones song rather than a polarising remix.
Let’s not pull any punches. The Mini brand as owned by BMW is not the iconic brand that populated the roads of a bygone era of Cool Britannia, the wave of which crested and receded before the close of the 1960s.
Today’s Mini is the style-led arm of a premium behemoth, a small but vital (left) wing of the world’s biggest luxury car brand. German precision and logic short-cutting its way into the hearts of the artsy, the retro-minded, the well-to-do hipsters among us.
Think of Mini more as an 'umbrella' brand with a sequence of models, rather than stand-alone single offering.
What’s this five-door hatch like, though? Is it a bridge too far? Does there come a point where something sacrosanct gets thrown into the thresher as well?
My opinion? Well my opinion is that my opinion isn’t really the one that matters. This car wasn’t penned with me in mind, nor those among our readers who hate this car’s figurative guts on principal.
Truth be told, as you can read in my Mini Five-Door review, it is objectively a very good car. I couldn’t very well prejudice myself from awarding a good car a good grade just because I wouldn’t personally touch it with a ten-foot bargepole.
And it’s also the car that will take Mini sales into the next echelon.
As a business proposal, it’s perfectly logical. It actually took BMW too long to twig on. Moreover, some people are going to fall head-over-heels for this car. And in doing so, they will be creating a new narrative for Mini, writing a new chapter in its history.
Nothing moves forward by staying still, after all.