Diminutive size was the inspiration for the original 1959 Mini’s nomenclature. It was only while sitting behind a present day version at the traffic lights recently that I realised just how big the Mini has become.
It’s understandable: people too have become much bigger than the ‘50s average – and even back then the original Mini was a very tight fit for most, as I found out when I took my first driving lessons in one.
The Mini has grown in other ways too, now offering a five-vehicle range – the latest edition being a racy and very distinctively styled Mini Cooper Coupé version that had my neighbour’ heads turning for the addictive week I spent with this now not so pocket but still rocket of a car.
The dramatic bodywork even features one of those serious-intent spoilers that automatically rises from the boot lid once you pick up speed and top 50 mph.
Priced from £16,640 on the road, the Oxford-built Mini Cooper Coupé offers a four-model engine line-up – one of them a diesel – and four trim level alternative versions too. There’s an exceptionally high level of equipment, including DAB digital radio, air-conditioning, park distance control, smart alloy wheels, a tree-spoke leather-clad steering wheel and sports’ body stripes bespeak the car’s serious intent – as does go-kart flavoured roadholding and handling.
The Mini Coupé doesn’t just promise – it delivers. My SD diesel test car flags up 0-60 in 7.9 seconds and can reach 134 mph while the range-topping John Cooper Works version will blast the sprint in a breathtaking 6.4 seconds, topping out at a blistering 149 mph. Economy stretches from the works’ special’s 39.8 mpg in the combined cycle to a truly frugal 65.7 mpg in the SD, which also offers the lowest emissions and highest torque output in the coupé range.
Given the Mini’s motorsport heritage, it came as no surprise that owners BMW chose to debut the Mini Cooper Coupé at the hallowed Nurbürgring Nordshleife for last summer’s 39th staging of the German venue’s near-legendary 24-hour race.
Finished in carbon black, with a striking chilli-red leather interior, my test car might not have been quite as quick as the John Cooper Works Endurance race-trimmed version that ran that day but it offered more than enough to set my pulse racing.