DEMYSTIFYING THE MINI
It is the “New Original. So familiar, yet so incredibly different.” Smooth lines
for a classic car, but what is it that makes the new Mini Cooper tick?
You know the smile you see on a child's face when they receive a brand new toy to play with? It was that kind of child like euphoria I felt when I saw the round disco-light display panel on the new Mini HATCH. A rainbow of colours flickering while you fiddle with the buttons; it felt like I was playing a fun arcade game and that drove the message home. It is all about fun, the Mini team says, an all-new configuration, inside and out, that makes the whole experience of driving a Mini fun.
The fun continues, of course, with unique features targeted at technology-savvy drivers, bringing the world of social media into the space of the car. This has got to be a first in the car industry: having the automated voice read out your tweets and friends' Facebook updates, and even sending out a few updates yourself. If you ever get lost, there's the trusty navigation system that can send out a FourSquare update to your friends pinpointing your exact location, although I am a little fearful of the potential stalker possibilities of this. But one undisputedly useful feature from this technology update is having the car read out your daily RSS feeds while you are driving. With the Mini Connected app that connects your phone to your car, it is now able to access RSS feeds you have saved, hence acting as personal assistant to give you live audio updates on your news of choice.
It seems only fitting that a car which has historically been associated with all these high-tech features. Noteworthy advancements like head up display, parking assistance, rear view camera, collision and pedestrian warning and high beam assist are all part of the package, but the foray into
the world of social media pushes the novelty factor up a notch. The Mini has always been a badge for the understated ‘in-theknow' crowd, and capitalising on the ‘eco movement', the car now comes with three driving options, Sport, Mid and Green, which balance fuel efficiency with driving performance. And coming back to the disco lights, expect shades of green all over your display when you are in Green mode.
Die hard Mini fans will be delighted to see that the exterior of the car has been refined to include round LED headlights, hexagonal front grille and upright rear lights with wide chrome surround. There are five basic colours to choose from, and options to have your roof and exterior mirror caps finished in white or black, or even a reflecting mirror! (I spotted a few Mini fans taking ‘selfies' on it). Inside, seat materials are customisable, and there's room for coffee tumblers, but like many two-door cars in the market, the back seats are really just for shopping bags rather than passengers.
Of course, the engines are improved and the unmistakable ‘go-kart' driving feel has been heightened. There's a zippy new Dynamic Damper Control option that actually lets the driver control the stiffness of the suspension, which I suspect will be wildly well-received when the car goes into the desert. More conservative drivers will be happy with the cushions as the new Mini Hatch is now available in Qatar from Alfardan Automobiles