MINI proves it is still a groundbreaker with the electric version
I wonder what Sir Alec Issignosis would make of it? He's the hero who is credited with designing the original Mini.
Actually, he was working on other models in the mid-1950s when the Suez crisis and fuel rationing made it imperative for a small car to be born.
Hence, the BMC Mini was created and it changed the motoring world, inspiring a raft of cool small cars.
It became a symbol of the 1960s as much as the Beatles and Twiggy did. Today's Mini is a different car but it is just as revolutionary in its own way.
It is no longer cheap and cheerful, more chic and elegant. It is after all a premium model, bigger, better to drive, more spacious and better equipped. The name is spelled with capitals and it is German owned but still built in the UK, in Oxford.
MINI is part of the BMW empire and began 20 years ago as a three-door hatch but has amplified with convertibles, five-door models, SUVs and two-seater coupes. Tested here is the latest, an electric model.
It has all the hallmarks of the BMW MINI - the go-kart handling, the dinner plate-sized dial in the middle of the dash and the cute unisex styling which makes this equally attractive to men and women of all ages.
The electric model is interesting. It is, in typical MINI fashion, simple and straightforward to use with a charge point where the fuel cap would normally be.
It has a relatively short range - 145 miles - but MINI believe that suits most people. Only on a longer journey would it become an issue because you would then need to factor in charging stops.
The MINI range now a refreshed exterior across the range of three-door hatch, five-door hatch and Convertible models. There is more emphasis on the car's principle design features. This is, if you like, a distilled MINI. The front-view is dominated by a larger radiator grille and its black, hexagonal surround, and the hallmark round MINI headlights.
The wheel arch has new contours, the side indicators have been redesigned to feature LED technology and at the back of the car, the fog light is now integrated into the rear apron as a narrow LED unit.
Such small features you could easily miss them but the overall effect is of a fresher, clearer style.
There are piano black features - every car company seems to be obsessed with piano black these days - which give it an upmarket feel. As part of the piano black Exterior option, the door handles, side scuttles, fuel cap, MINI logo on the bonnet and luggage compartment lid and model lettering and tailpipes of the exhaust system are now finished in high-gloss black, in addition to the surrounds of the headlights, radiator grille and rear lights.
An electric parking brake comes as standard on the MINI Electric and is also now available in the other variants, in conjunction with an automatic transmission, the optional Driving Assistant and 17in light-alloy wheels.
A handful of individual options have been added to the line-up for the MINI Electric, allowing customers to further personalise their choice of Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3. For customers selecting Level 2, they can now add Roof Rails, Active Cruise Controller and Sun Protection Glass, as well as the new Piano Black Exterior. Those opting for Level 3 also have the option of adding Satellite Grey Leather upholstery.
The new MINI App offers an advanced user experience that is completely oriented towards a digital lifestyle, allowing drivers to contact their MINI at any time, in order to call up information on the car's status. Fuel levels or charge status can be seen quickly and you can send navigation destinations directly from your smartphone to the car.
The 1950s Mini really has been transformed into a 21st century model.
MINI-e Cooper S
Price: £33,920 on the road. This model adds active cruise control (£300), heated steering wheel (£250), sun protection glass (£250) and piano black exterior (£300) making £25,825 on the road. MINI Electric starts at £27,920. MINI starts at £17,445
Engine: An electric motor with one-speed gearbox
Performance: Top speed 93mph and 0 to 60mph in 7.3 seconds
Range: 145 miles
Warranty: Three years, unlimited miles