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

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