Many years ago, when I was just out of business college, I owned a 1964 Austin Mini 850. It was more than a few years old already by then, and in some ways was past its prime, but it was cheap, gave me mobility, still looked pretty good in its red and black paint, and was a lot of fun.
Well, that was almost forty years ago, and in all those years since then I don’t recall ever being in a Mini let alone driving one. But that all changed a few days ago, thanks to Merit Ford in Esterhazy.
Merit Ford currently has a 2012, Mini Cooper S on their lot. It’s sitting beside the beautiful black Mustang right now, and frankly the temptation was more than I could bear to leave it untried. In fact, it is even in the same colour as my old one from so long ago, red on the body and black on the roof. So, in I went and asked to give it a go.
First impressions were fantastic. It is small by comparison of most cars in Canada, but it is huge compared to the old original design. In fact, short of the obvious “tip of the hat” to the old design and the Mini name, there’s simply no comparison… except maybe the “feel good” experience and the smile it plasters across your face when driving it.
This Mini Cooper S is a pocket Rocket, and unlike the British original, it is made in German by no less than BMW. And that latter fact shows as soon as you hit the gas. Simply put, it has enough power to throw your head back into the headrest, and the power just keeps on delivering gear after gear, with tons of torque and not a hint of torque steer. It reminded me more of my old Mustang than my old Mini in fact!
Outside it looks the part, with a low-down hunkered kind of a stance, blackened out wheels and racing stripes. Inside it has a strange mixture of old retro style and new modernity. The big speedometer dominates the center of the dash, with a smaller rev counter in front of the driver. The leather seats hug you, and even the slightest touch of the steering wheel elicits a go-cart like response. Yes, that’s it. It’s a go cart on steroids!
Visibility is awesome, and this one has the panoramic sunroof too. Of course there’s not a whole lot of room in the back seats, and we did not get a chance to try them because there were additional rims for the car in the trunk space, and the seats had to be down to accommodate them. Nonetheless, it was an impressive, fun-filled experience driving the car on the highway and in town. What a Bavarian/British Blast!
Don’t know how long it will be at Merit. But, if you are in the market for a Mini, you might want to pop in and check this baby out. See the pictures below (and yes, my old Mini is in the gallery for the heck of it!)