Mini Re­mas­tered

Tired of modern cars cov­ered in retro slap? Well, this one’s got real his­tory in its bones

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Re­mem­ber the 2011 Mini Rock­et­man con­cept? Course you do. That was BMW firt­ing with the idea of build­ing a Mini-branded city car, com­pa­ra­ble in size to the Is­sigo­nis-de­signed orig­i­nal. But whether it was the fnan­cial case or crash reg­u­la­tions that killed it, it’s gone aw­fully quiet since then.

Not to worry, be­cause for all those that think a true Mini should ac­tu­ally be mini, a small Bri­tish coach-build­ing frm – David Brown Au­to­mo­tive (he of the £600k, Jag XK-based Speed­back GT, of which they’ve sold 12 to date) – has come up with a so­lu­tion. A £75k so­lu­tion, but a so­lu­tion nonethe­less.

It’s called the Mini Re­mas­tered and is, in essence, an orig­i­nal Mini retro-ft­ted with re­fur­bished and im­proved me­chan­i­cals, a sub­tly mod­ifed ex­te­rior and an in­te­rior up­graded to cope with the de­mands of a wealthy modern city type.

Built, or should that be re­built, by hand in DB’s brand new, 18,000sq ft Sil­ver­stone fac­tory (the Speed­backs were built in Coven­try un­til now), it fea­tures new de­seamed pan­els for a smoother look, ad­di­tional struc­tural beams to im­prove stifness and ex­tra sound proofng, so you might ac­tu­ally have a chance of hear­ing calls over the hands-free. The grille is aluminium, the rear lights LED and there are even Mustang-style pud­dle lights on the un­der­side of the wing mir­rors. Snazzy. All in, the whole thing weighs around 30kg more than the donor car, but still in the 700kg ball park – less than half of a modern Coun­try­man.

Hang on a minute, did I say hands-free, in a Mini? Oh yes. DB has dragged the in­te­rior kick­ing and scream­ing into the 21st cen­tury with a built-in

in­fo­tain­ment screen (com­plete with Ap­ple CarPlay no less), a push but­ton start, a four-speaker stereo sys­tem, USB sock­ets and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing. Sculpted seats are leather-wrapped, nat­u­rally, and a cupholder has been added to the cen­tre con­sole. Whether any of this is ac­tu­ally a good thing we’ll leave you to de­cide.

There’s no ar­gu­ing that more power from the fully re­built 1.3-litre en­gine is ex­cel­lent news. You’ll get 60bhp in the stan­dard model, or be­tween 75bhp and 90bhp in a pair of racier spe­cial edi­tions – that’s plenty to see of modern Coop­ers at the lights. All get a fully re­con­di­tioned 4spd gear­box, plus up­graded sus­pen­sion and brakes, so you’ve got a fair chance in the cor­ners, too.

Each cus­tomer is in­vited to choose their ex­te­rior paint (which takes up to 400 man hours to ap­ply... no spray cans here), the colour of their con­trast­ing roof, their in­te­rior hue and wheel de­sign. Though, if you can’t be both­ered, two launch edi­tions – “In­spired by Cafe Rac­ers” and “In­spired by Monte Carlo”, will be ofered. Each of these spe­cial edi­tions will get a run of just 25 units a piece, but DB is bank­ing on sell­ing be­tween 50 to 100 of the Mi­nis over­all each year.

Now back to that price, be­cause around £75k for the “stan­dard” Mini Re­mas­tered – and up­wards from there once you start adding cus­tom paint colours and ex­tra power – is, well, quite a bit for a new-old Mini. But we’ve seen it up close and the at­ten­tion to de­tail is pretty re­mark­able, not sur­pris­ing when each car takes a com­bined 1,400 hours to com­plete. So, this or a modern BMWengi­neered Mini and £60,000 change? That is the ques­tion. Not a very rel­e­vant ques­tion to the vast ma­jor­ity of us, but a ques­tion nonethe­less.

In­te­rior in­cludes all mod­cons, in­clud­ing gadget known as a “cupholder”

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