By Justin Harper
I have never been a big fan of special edition cars as they are usually gimmicks made on the back of an already popular model. But now and again, something special comes along – like the Mini 60th anniversary special edition. As Mini fans will probably tell you, the latest models are unrecognisable from those that rolled off the British Motor Corporation’s production line in 1959. A British pop icon since the 1960s, Mini’s biggest milestone came in 2000 when it was taken over by BMW who subsequently began a campaign to beef up the Mini both in size and power. The range has since grown extensively.
Now, you can drive a Mini station wagon, SUV and even a coupe version. All of which brings us to this 60th anniversary version – it comes in three-door and five-door formats and in both Cooper and Cooper S trim. What first surprised me (one of many during my recent test drive) was that the special edition is priced $2,000 cheaper than a standard Mini. Normally, it is the other way around. And as part of the package, you get unique leather upholstery with vivid green piping and cool bonnet stripes while the 60 Years logo appears on the puddle lights (coming from the rear-view mirror), door scuff plates and on the fender trim. That is all good but there’s also another intangible benefit to owning this limited edition anniversary model – it is only available this year. A limited run of 500 Mini 60 Years Edition vehicles was also made available to UK enthusiasts in early 2019.
If nothing else, the value of these cars could rise in the years to come. While you get many extra features with this special edition Mini, you also lose some, compared to the standard model. That means no illuminated Union Jack, which is one of my favourite features (but that could be because I am British). But I did feel more comfortable with the exclusive colouring – British Racing Green, in this case. This anniversary edition also comes with a two-litre turbocharged engine that will produce 192hp and 280Nm of torque. But the statistics don’t always tell the full story as this Mini generates a lot of torque, especially when you put it in Sports mode.
You get that go-kart feeling and then some. It really is a nippy car, which was another one of the many surprises with the Mini’s box of tricks. The brand has been criticised in the past for the brittleness of its ride (after all, it does pride itself on its go-kart experience). However, the third generation has improved the ride quality, which you really feel navigating corners and bends. It is a lot smoother and more refined, in other words. Another pleasant surprise was the amount of space in the back for your third and fourth passengers. The cabin as a whole looks a lot more spacious and the leather upholstery looks and feels great. As styling goes, Mini has got it just right with this milestone edition. There are also lots of nice little touches you might miss, like the exclusive 17-inch light-alloy wheels in 60 Years Spoke two-tone. This car may be about celebrating Mini’s heritage but it is also a chance to show off its future.
There is plenty of technology onboard: My test-drive model had a Navigation Plus pack which includes an 8.8in touch display, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, concierge service and wireless charging. On top of that you also get a rear-view camera, folding exterior mirrors and front and rear park distance control. These additions are impressive. My very first car was a Mini back in 1990 when they were much smaller and generally not very cool. How things have changed since those days. Not only have they grown in size but also in stature and trendiness. Clearly, owning a Mini is more of a lifestyle choice these days. The modern-day version is still iconic but it is also achingly cool and lots of fun. Whether it is the 60th anniversary edition or the plain standard edition, you are never too old to drive a Mini. Just don’t wait until the 70th anniversary to give this car a go.
Mini Cooper S (60 years Edition)
$155,888 including COE
Engine: 1,998cc, in-line, four, turbocharged
Fuel consumption: 5.6L/100km
0 to 100kph: 6.8 seconds
Top speed: 235kph