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Don't be fooled by the subtlety - the new, New Mini is an explosive performer

23 Feb 2007

MINI has shown us what happens when you redesign what was originally a retro car: You don’t. What you do is refine and enhance the qualities of the original without losing touch, and that’s precisely the story with the new Mini, which appears five years after the old (new) Mini’s launch here in 2002 and makes no doubt of the previous model’s having got the formula pretty right. But despite the look-closer styling, there’s a lot of new stuff in the R56 Mini, from the all-new body panels to a new front suspension, new six-speed auto and manual transmissions, and brand-new 1.6-litre engines. The claim is there’s more room in the new car (you’d need a micrometer to find it), but the interior is a tangibly better place than before and there’s a whole heap of new options that make it possible to spend even more of a fortune on a car that starts at little more than $30,000.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 February 2007 to 1 March 2014

Previous model

R50 Mini Cooper

Released: March 2002
Ended: February 2007
Family Tree: Hatch

The new New Mini came here as just a Cooper in March 2002, quickly followed by the supercharged S version in May the same year. That the jointly-developed Rover-BMW icon revisit got the formula correct is evident in the car’s public acceptance. Today, Mini Coopers can be expected to retain as much as 70 per cent of the original value. The new car was massively bigger than the late-1950s original, but it had similar (outstanding) driving dynamics encased in a vehicle that expressed all the latest values in terms of safety. The British-built Mini’s interior looked a little shoddy in some areas, but the styling was immensely cheeky and the interior smaller than its not-so-small exterior suggested. The Cooper’s 1.6-litre engine lacked punch the supercharged S was much better.

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