If you’re much older than the age of 30, “Mini” will instantly bring to mind the phenomenally successful, much-loved small car that was noisy, nippy if not fast, and seemingly larger inside than out, says Simon de Burton in the FT’s How To Spend It. For thousands, it was the car they learned to drive in and the first one they owned. For younger people, the word is more likely to bring to mind BMW’s modern variant. That Mini is bigger, faster, more quiet and refined, and when it comes to comfort, speed, safety, efficiency and reliability, there’s no arguing that the modern Mini leaves the original for dead.
Yet there are plenty of enthusiasts who mourn the old version, says de Burton. That’s why David Brown Automotive, a small engineering firm headed by an enthusiast of the same name, has decided to bring the littler car back to life. The Mini Remastered starts life as an original Mini, is then stripped to the bare bones, and then put back together again using top-quality modern components. The result has all the character of the original and is just as much fun to drive. “It’s hard to imagine any fan of one of the greatest cars of all time being able to resist the chance to get behind the wheel.”
It feels somewhat different behind that wheel, says Dan Prosser in Autocar. The cabin is fitted out in high-quality leather, the bespoke dashboard has lots of attractive details, and there’s air conditioning, sat nav and a top-notch infotainment system. What hasn’t changed is the driving position. You still sit with your knees up by your ears and steer as if you’re driving a bus, and the “gritty, rorty” engine is still full of character, allowing you to drive flat out at what feels like quite a pace and yet won’t trouble the speed limit. It’s a very likeable thing indeed.
So you want one, right? Well, you’d better sit down for this bit, says Jack Rix on Top Gear. It costs £75,000. In “inspired by Monte Carlo” trim (pictured), you’re looking at £99,000. That’s a shame, because more people should be able to experience the joy of driving a Mini. As it is, this is a “must-have accessory for the super-rich”.
• See DavidBrownAutomotive.com for details.