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Mini's updated drop-top sportster recaptures young appeal

10 Oct 2018

EARLIER this year, Mini freshened up its hatch range which now spans three body styles, and three grades.
In truth, it was a minor update, bringing slightly more modern styling cues and added cosmetic touches to distinguish it from its predecessors.
The important changes were found behind the dash, with the new Mini armed to the teeth with high-end interior tech, connectivity and entertainment features.
Where racing history and design lineage were once the main-game for Mini's marketing department, clearly Mini is aiming to recapture the interest of a younger audience by offering what it believes young people want most.
To understand why this is significant, open up your textbooks to chapter three, here's a bit of history.
In the late 50s, the fine chaps at British Motor Company (BMC) designed what would soon be, arguably, one of the most influential vehicles of all time.
It was called the Mini, so named for its tiny proportions, simplicity and in turn, affordability.
But it didn't take long for punters to see the sporting potential of the newborn lightweight. It handled like a go-kart, was easy on rubber and fuel, and with only a few carburettor and cam adjustments could be given a healthy dose of vigor for the straight line stuff.
Soon, one John Newton Cooper of the Cooper Car Company lifted his checkered socks and adjusted his silk waistcoat – pointed at the Mini –  and asked “what if we made it faster?”
Pip pip, tally-ho, the Mini Cooper was born.
When the marque was relaunched under BMW ownership in 2000, the designers were careful to stay true to Mini's origins.
A lot changes in forty years in the car world, but in design, and in philosophy, the new and old are comparable. Both share a boxy and unmistakably British design language, are light in weight, front-wheel drive, are powered by a free-revving and peppy engine, and are, of course, mini in size.
The iconic look and feel has unquestionably helped sales performance. A nostalgic drive for some, and a quirky accessory for others.
However, the latest update brings a new element of appeal to the British light car, with a plethora of new technology that rivals luxury vehicles well above its price point.
We recently sampled a Mini Convertible Cooper S; the rag-top two-door variant that sits between the entry-spec Cooper and the high-performance JCW.
Fitting the cliché, we filled it full of friends and went for a spirited drive down to Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
Okay Google, shuffle Classic Rock Essentials, we're going cruising.
Model release date: 1 July 2018

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