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A British Icon Reborn - The New MINI Hatch

The all new iconic MINI gives our test drive expert, Michael Smallbone, one of the best drives of his life.

There are several Great British icons – HM Queen Elizabeth II, the Sunday Roast, the red post box – but arguably the most iconic is the MINI.

The original MINI was launched back in 1959 when it took not only the UK, but the entire world by storm. It was brought to the market by Alec Issigonis, to be a car that was affordable to all and that would be ideal for most people’s lives, so much so that many famous faces even owned a MINI. Some 55 years on and the MINI is still with us, albeit a little bigger and fitted with a few more creature comforts.

This spring the all new MINI Hatch hit the Bowker MINI showroom and I was privileged enough to be one of the first to enjoy its heritage through a personal driving experience. The Cooper S model was beautifully presented in Thunder Grey and complemented with a Lounge Leather interior, in my opinion the best combination for any car – a dark exterior and light interior makes the whole driving experience more enjoyable.

The first thing I noticed was the new look Central Display that no longer gives the speed reading, but is the centre of the car’s navigation, communication and entire set up. An outer illuminating ring runs round the edge of the display, the colour of which changes depending on what menu you are in or your current driving style. Having familiarised myself with the layout, I connected my phone via Bluetooth, pressed the keyless start/stop button and was ready to head off and explore.

I decided it would be nice to get a second point of view on the MINI Hatch, so I took a trip down the motorway to see a car-mad friend of mine for his unbiased opinion. He was immediately love struck with the car and impressed how it really is possible to improve on an already fabulous vehicle, both visually and practically.

My journey along the motorway was effortless and comfortable with the added bonus of having many features at my disposal that you would normally expect from a larger more expensive car, features such as Adaptive Cruise Control and a communication system that allows you to update your social network status from within the car.

Although the MINI was happy to cruise along the motorway, my mind kept wandering to the footage of the original MINI’s hat-trick victory in the 1960s Monte Carlo Rally. I wanted to see for myself if the modern MINI could live up to its predecessor.

Turning off the motorway I engaged Sport mode – once switched on a picture of a go-kart is displayed and the LED ring on the Central Display converts into a rev counter. But, that’s not all, it changes the dynamics of the car so that the accelerator is more responsive and the steering becomes far more direct. With a clear stretch of road in front of me, I discovered just how the car’s go-kart style performs perfectly in real life, the power is instant, each corner is involving and, as you hit that apex, the power is ready to propel you onto the next bend.

As well as the fun Sport mode, there is also the option of going Green. The Green driving mode is easier on the environment as it optimises the throttle response for fuel efficiency.  Regardless of what mood you’re in and which driving mood you choose the MINI’s TwinPower Turbo charged engine will still be most frugal and boast a combined MPG of 49.7.

With a luxurious interior and stunning good looks the all new MINI Hatch is a car that performs on so many levels. A classic has truly been reborn, but thankfully with many improvements along the way. This is a fabulous combination of the old meeting the new to form a perfect hatchback that can surely find a way into our lives, even if it’s just for out and out driving fun!

If you would like more information on the MINI Hatch, please contact Bowker Preston MINI on 01772 761 234 or Bowker Blackburn MINI 01254 274442.

Michael Smallbone - Live Magazines