Friday 30th March 2012
PH BLOG: DON'T FANCY YOURS MUCH
Garlick fights the corner for the Mini Coupe, which is brave given the response to it thus far
I used to run a Mini in 2008, a Cooper S with the JCW tuning kit, and was subject to much criticism by those who either didn't understand the Mini concept or hadn't driven one. It's all too easy to follow the 'ladies and estate agents' banter when all around are doing the same, but I defended it with gusto and surprised a few people on track days with it too.
Garlick sets out to prove the haters wrong
I'm fully aware that the new Mini/proper Mini debate will rage on, and some won't like the new car any more than current buyers probably wouldn't consider the original version. Time moves on, brands and ranges evolve and, yes, the Mini is now bigger, more luxurious and more expensive than ever before. But show me a current model from any manufacturer that isn't.
As the brand evolves it now offers 4x4 and estate options that polarise opinion and the new Coupe and Roadster are all set to do the same. In fact, the one sitting in the PH car park right now is already raising eyebrows and attracting some fairly robust Tweets from Mr Harris and many others. Now, I drove it last night and can report that it is as much fun to drive as any other Mini, but this isn't a review and that job will be down to Mr Trent.
What struck me is just how much attention I got while driving it - it inspires as much neck craning as a Ferrari 458, it makes folk smile and, among women especially, the response is overwhelmingly positive. (Mini mightier than the mustard trousers shocker! - Ed.)
More to it than meets the eye, thankfully
Mock the brand all you want, but Mini seems to be making cars that appeal to a certain demographic and they are buying them in their droves. And underneath that shouty image lies a great car that many buyers won't begin to exploit, and that means a good car is going to waste. This Coupe drives really well, but we as PHers probably won't buy it. It's over-styled and costs upwards of £25K in JCW form, and for that price you are spoilt for choice, not least with the much more overtly PH-worthy Subaru BRZ
(or GT 86 equivalent
) driven this week.
What does that mean for the Mini? Only time will tell I guess but a nice little driver's car is in danger of written off for being too cute by the likes of us and the brand may well end up being known more for style than substance.
That's a shame.