AD - The MINI Story: From humble compact to Brit icon
A new generation of MINI vehicles was launched in Malaysia a month ago, with an improved powertrain and glitzier tech being amongst the highlights. However, it takes a trained eye to tell the new F55/F56 model apart from its pre-facelifted form. Not that it’s a problem. If anything, the MINI is one of the most recognisable cars in the world today for that very reason: the preservation of all things quintessentially MINI over half a century, an evolution process that started way back in 1958…
The late 1950s saw the auto industry shift its sights from big-engined sedans to compacts in light of a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis. Eager to cash in on a market now leaning towards European bubble cars, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) commissioned Sir Alec Issigonis, then still un-knighted, to design a compact offering of their own. Little did either party realise that their work would go on to become one of the industry’s most distinctive designs to date.
By 1965, just six years after the classic Mini went on the market, BMC were celebrating a million cars in sales. This total doubled in 1969 after the Mark II model was launched. Within that period, John Cooper got involved and fortified MINI’s credentials in the performance sector. This collaboration gave birth to the Mini Cooper, which defied its staunchest critics on the track by winning three Monte Carlo rallies (1964, 1965 and 1967), winning the hearts of millions more in the process. It became the unsung hero of the motoring realm, the little car that could. It became an icon.
FLYING THE UNION JACK
With MINI’s popularity bursting through all corners of the globe from its exploits on and off the track, it became a flagbearer of British charm, especially from an aesthetic standpoint. Even people who could afford bigger cars desired a MINI as a fashion statement. Design trends inspired by the Mini Cooper’s heroics such as its white racing stripes with a matching roof and a row of fog lights mounted on its wide radiator grille became highly sought after. Enthusiasts still incorporate these visual signatures in their MINIs today. But none of these stand out as much as the Union Jack itself.
The flag of Great Britain has been incorporated into generation after generation of MINI in countless ways. Whether it’s emblazoned on the roof or wrapped around the wing mirrors, the Union Jack has become a MINI staple over the years, even after the marque was absorbed by the BMW Group in 2000. And even though the recently-updated MINI has some German components under the hood, it still boasts unmistakable British elements, cleverly-integrated pair of Union Jacks included…
ENGINEERED TO EXPLORE MORE CORNERS
One of the most unique features of the latest MINI that should help you tell it apart from its predecessors are its taillights, which now feature Union Jack-inspired light signatures you can spot from a mile away. The UK flag also decorates the technologically-packed dashboard, imbuing the already familiar car with an even richer sense of British charisma.
These lasting characteristics are packaged in three different guises offered by MINI Malaysia, namely the Cooper S 3 Door, Cooper S 5 Door and the range-topping John Cooper Works (JCW) which pays homage to Mini Cooper’s illustrious motorsports history. All models run on two-litre four-cylinder MINI TwinPower Turbo engines that deliver high levels of performance John Cooper would be proud of and efficient fuel consumption in line with Sir Alec Issigonis’s initial concept of a fuss-free compact car. It’s a balance of talents that make the new MINI the ideal car to explore more corners with.
Which one’s for you?
MINI COOPER S 3 DOOR
192HP, 280NM, 0-100 IN 6.7 SECS, 235KPH
MINI COOPER S 5 DOOR
192HP, 280NM, 0-100 IN 6.8 SECS, 235KPH
MINI COOPER JOHN COOPER WORKS
231HP, 320NM, 0-100 IN 6.1 SECS, 246KPH