The latest North America International Auto Show has been the talking point of the motoring press, with a raft of promising new unveilings. But one announcement rubbed me up the wrong way – the new Mini.
BMW announced at the show that the new Mini Paceman was going into production.
While I’d also question the necessity for a model of this type, I’ve started to ponder BMW’s direction with the Mini altogether. Although I know these new Minis aren’t entirely based on the original, they’re meant to represent arguably the greatest car of all time, and right now BMW is over-indulging in its past glory with a line of Minis that don’t retain the essence of the original.
I’m a biased Mini owner
I own a 1961 Mini Cooper. It’s a family heirloom, passed down through the generations. It represents motoring in its simplest form – a great car built to a budget, for people on a budget.
While it might have appeared in a variety of specifications, the original Mini shape is unmistakeable. It’s an icon for more than one generation, and it helped thousands of Britons become motorists (including me – I passed my test in it eight years ago).
When comparing this to BMW’s latest interpretation of the Mini, there’s too much amiss to list. But I’ll give it a go:
- It’s too expensive, with the most expensive Mini model cashing in at over £24k and the cheapest costing £11,810.
- It’s too small inside. The original looked small on the outside but was unbelievably roomy inside – the new Mini is the opposite.
- It’s aimed at nostalgic types and the financially well-off only. The first Mini was the ideal car for every age group – youngsters could use it as their first car and small families could use it for everyday transport. The new Mini is priced out of most people’s bank balances compared to similar-sized superminis.
The Paceman is lagging behind
These are just a few small comparisons that I think show the new Mini is lacking against the car it’s aching to imitate. And by releasing a tuned-up all-wheel-drive SUV coupé crossover concoction like the Paceman, BMW is swaying further away from the true essence of what the Mini should be.
From the looks of it, the Paceman will be a road-going version of the Countryman rally car that’s competing in the 2011 World Rally Championship. So you could argue that there will be some interest in it, but I’m not sure how significant that interest will be.
So come on BMW, make a real Mini – one that’s affordable and practical for the majority of motorists, rather than just a select few.