THE all new third generation Mini has just been launched but many people may not realise it is the new model because it closely resembles the previous model and Mini UK has aptly described the latest car as “The New Original” writes Bryan Longworth.
Indeed they say the new Mini is instantly recognisable and distinctly familiar but it has been enhanced in every way and is completely new from the ground up which is very true once you have closely examined the car inside and out and driven it.
However, it quickly becomes obvious that the latest Mini has different styling especially up front being larger all round and the rear load space is now much bigger with a good load area above the boot floor and a sizeable stowage space beneath it - the load area was always a problem with previous Minis.
Inside there is a quality ambience and the car is much more user friendly with the starter switch being in the centre of the facia and not hidden behind the steering wheel and stalks and the window switches are now on the doors and much easier to locate especially at night.
The large circular dinnerplate speedometer space is still there but it now houses the radio and information systems with the speedo now in front of the driver above the steering wheel and my test car also had the optional and very useful head-up speed and speed limit display above the fascia Where they were so easy to see at all times.
There are three new engines for the Mini one being a three cylinder unit but my test car the Mini Cooper S costing £18,650 on the road had the 192bhp 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet which produced a top speed of 146mph, a zero to 62mph time of 6.8 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 49.6mpg.
The test car looked really cool in its orange paintwork with twin bonnet stripes and 17inch black alloy wheels - watch out for those kerbs - with the distinctive LED daylight driving ring around the headlights making it quite obvious that this is the new Mini.
Standard kit is also extensive and includes automatic start/stop, brake energy regeneration, a very good on board computer and an easy to operate DAB radio plus very comfortable sports seats up front.
There is the choice of a sporty and firmer ride or a more comfortable mode and with the improved suspension the latest Mini is more enjoyable than ever to drive especially on fast country roads particularly the bendy bits.
I appreciated the improved interior in particular the more user friendly controls and instruments which together made the driving experience much better and a passenger and large dog had no problem getting into the roomy rear of the three door car - a five door Mini will soon be launched.
Since the original Mini was launched over half a century ago for less than ?500 I have owned various models over the years all of which I enjoyed which was probably why I appreciated the latest model so much.
BMW deserve praise for buying the business and improving the marque so much in every possible way and yet still retaining that original Mini magic because while the latest model appears not to have changed so much to some people once you have driven it and compared it to the previous model you appreciate just what a good new car and how different it really is.
My Verdict: More Mini magic.
Model: New Mini Cooper S.
Engine: 2.0-l;itre four cylinder petrol.
Transmission: Six speed Manual.
Top speed: 146mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 6.8 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 49.6mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 133g/km.
Price: £18,650 on the road.