University girls of the noughties are now Mommies – and in 2014 the new Mini Cooper followed them in adulthood. Why the hell did it do that? Three years later I’m still asking myself the same question.
As it is Gusheshe’s soulful duty to do so, let’s point to this most devastating fact from the outset: A man cannot drive a Mini. The new generation three, like the ones before it (not the older 70s classic because I own one of those!) are reserved for females. Women only. And no matter how much I love Mini – which I do considerably – it will forever remain a love from a distance. Enjoyable yes, very, like playing Barbie with your sister, but there will always be the risk that Dad might catch you – a risk I’m not willing to take.
The new Mini Cooper S is quality. Of course it is, it’s made by BMW – it’s cabin is neatly stitched in usual jet-like charisma and you still do feel, despite what this article will conclude, some of that Mini magic that all Minis seem to give in some amount or the other, even if aesthetic only and emanating from the center, round-race dial that makes you feel like Lewis Hamilton. Unfortunately though, quality cars are not necessarily soulful cars and the little magic that Mini has left is not quite enough to fool me. As it so, despite what its two turbos do to its 2 litres – which is more than fair and considerable – it feels boring and detached.
By that I mean, the go-cart cliché is now officially that, a cliché, and the driving difference between the new Cooper S and the BMW 2 series is now officially negligible. Yes, it’s a solidly smooth and cultured drive – no doubt – and filled with all the right amounts of propulsion – but what else is there? What else does it have on offer in the realm of the driver’s soul? Nothing. Mini is no longer a driver’s car – but a car for the wealthy who prefer the image of what Mini is supposed to offer. The image of Mini. But even on that front it fails in this the third generation: It’s image is now exceptionally mom-like and true Mini lovers would do well to find a better priced and older model if they would like to feel Mini-esque again in a mini once more.
The new Mini is all grown up then they say; but, even that is not true. It’s not quite grown up at all really, nor is it the small and funky town-mobile of its tweeny years. Currently, it sits somewhere awkwardly in puberty, not quite sure what the hell it is. Yes, it’s clear that it’s growing larger to ultimately compete with Golf but why? Why!? Why the hell would we want another Golf when Golf itself is really quite good at being Golf.
In the meantime, Mini doesn’t have enough space for rear leg room but a body size that suggests it should. It seems to exist in a perpetual state of curve-hugging deceit – it looks sometimes smaller than it is but it’s not. It’s big, with the face of its last-generation mother, which is strangely mixed into the big bones of some uncaring cross-over Daddy who left Mini Mommy when she gave birth to the uglier, more expensive and spoilt version of herself. What were Mini thinking? The description of the car is in the name! I mean, there is literally no other car that I can think of which tells its designers the proportions it would like to be… mini. And still they failed.
The new Mini is a good car. It is. Truly. And if you bought it you would probably get good value and ultimately a good return on it. But there is no denying this painful thorn: It is not as good as the older one and is considerably more expensive. Call me crazy but isn’t there something wrong with that? Something deeply annoying with the fact that Mini tried to fix something that wasn’t broken, broke it and then took the audacity to sell it back to us for R100 000 more? Wow, are consumers really that stupid or is Mini the real genius?
I asked the salesperson who accompanied me if this new Mini sold as well as the old one did, and we both couldn’t ignore the burning truth in his very unsure answer: “Well, that’s a difficult question,” he replied. No it’s not, I thought.
And then, as I browsed the many pretty colours on offer, I thought of today’s poor and privileged university girl and what she might think of the new Mini, the one she could never have because it followed her predecessors into Mommy-hood. Was she sad that she was not a part of the Mini image that Mini denied her now three years ago? Probably not, I thought. Because then it hit me. Daddy bought her a Fiat 500 instead.
Don’t mess that one up Fiat. Please.