Believe it or not, the iconic MINI has been around for 50 years, and things have never looked better for the brand, if their presence at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show is any indication.
Here’s a number to think about, more than 1.5 million new generation MINI’s have been produced since production got under way in 2001. That’s a lot of MINI’s.
MINI and I, go way back, back to high school days in fact, when my brother and I, had the pleasure of sliding around the back of a MINI panel van each morning, on flimsy aluminium beach chairs.
It wasn’t much fun, certainly wasn’t safe and made a hell of a racket, but at least we got to school on time, despite being battered and bruised by continuous contact with several unsecured plumbing tools we shared the space with.
The real fun started when I finally got behind the wheel of that same MINI van for my Driver’s licence test – I passed, but only after being told to install a passenger side door mirror, which wasn’t stand kit on the early MINI’s.
They were a lot of fun to drive back then, but even more so these days, with a level of sophistication, performance and comfort, rivalling many premium marques.
Apart from the colourful display of past MINI classics in Hall 11, which is a long way from Hall 1 let me tell you, the real superstars from Oxford were the two new concept cars, The MINI Coupe Concept and the MINI Roadster Concept.
While the MINI Roadster Concept was definitely cool, and a car that deserves close attention, I was more smitten with the styling of the Coupe, especially its low roofline and performance pedigree, in a two-colour paint job.
The MINI Coupe Concept is a different kind of MINI, to the current model range.
Firstly, it’s strictly a two-seater, favouring a lightweight construction over additional passengers.
This is no hairdresser special, let me retract that, this is a performance car in the tradition of the fast moving John Cooper Works MINI’s.
A superbly flexible 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine powers the MINI Coupe Concept, with a not too shabby 155kW (211 hp) and maximum torque of 280 Newton-metres (with overboost).
It might not sound like a lot of grunt, but 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds when you’re sitting almost on the ground, feels mighty quick, as does it’s top speed of 238km/h.
And it’s not just the powertrain, which is shared by the two high performance siblings; the MINI Coupe Concept also borrows the radiator grille and bonnet from the MINI Cooper S.
You’ll notice the twin exhaust pipe tips, they’re wider than the standard JCW car, and that ultra low roofline, doubles as a functional rear spoiler to assist high-speed stability.
Normally, I’m not a fan of body stripes, they don’t make the car go any faster, and are a little too boy racer for my liking.
That said, I’ll go with these on the Coupe, as they seem perfectly right for the car, especially as they stretch the length of the vehicle. Moreover they work well with this particular colour combination.
It might be small, but there’s no problem with luggage or access to the storage area.
The tailgate is large and opens extra wide so that you can load up to 250 litres of gear into boot. That’s not too bad for a car, which is just 3.7 metres in length and 1.68 metres wide.
I sincerely hope both these MINI Concepts make it into production, as they are great expressions of what the MINI brand is all about, fun and style, in very small packages.
Long Live the MINI.