There have been so many special editions of the Mini – and indeed MINI – over the years that it can be hard to know which ones are worth taking seriously. On the face of it, the 60 Years Edition would seem to make the cut, both because it is part of a limited edition run (only 500 are staying in the UK) and because it marks a significant anniversary of one of the world’s most endearing – not to mention important – cars.
Admittedly, not everybody is convinced by how the much-loved original Mini has been reincarnated under BMW’s ownership, and it certainly doesn’t have the same packaging ingenuity associated with the Alec Issigonis original of 1959. But equally, it must be acknowledged that there’s a huge sum of people who love how BMW has evolved the Mini’s styling and driving dynamics for the modern age, while also extending its appeal through the implantation of a level of perceived quality that most other supermini-sized cars struggle to match (the latest Audi A1 being a notable exception). Throw in countless ways for buyers to personalise their cars, and you have what is now an indisputable recipe for success.
MEET THE £30,000 MINI
Clearly, you’ll need to buy into all of the above if you are to fall for the charms of the 60 Years Edition. You’ll also need to be prepared to stump up what would seem to be a ludicrous amount of money for a car of this size; we are talking £29,995 here for what is basically a Cooper S (priced from £20,925) with some choice upgrades. Ouch.
Unlike something like one of MINI’s JCW models, none of the upgrades in this case are associated with the engine, which is the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol unit found in the standard Cooper S, with the same 189bhp and 221lb ft of torque. You do however get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox as standard (indeed, a manual isn’t even an option).
It should be noted too that the 60 Years Edition does stand out for all the right reasons. The British Racing Green paintwork is deep, glossy, and perfectly set off by the contrasting black roof, grille, wing mirrors and fuel filler cap. The bespoke 17-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels and additional grille-mounted spotlights are a treat, too, and there’s a predictable smattering of ‘60’ logos on the bonnet stripes, front wings and even projected on to the ground via the puddle lights.
What starts off well on the outside improves when you open the door to be greeted by yet more ’60’ logos on the sills and steering wheel, and what are some really rather lovely ‘Leather Lounge in Dark Cacao’ (or ‘brown’ as most people would call it) seats complete with contrasting stitching and green piping. If you’re looking for evidence of how upmarket modern MINIs can look and feel this car is it, although it should also be noted that the fit of the some of the plastics lower down in the cabin of our test car was a bit dubious.
On the equipment front, there’s LED front and rear lights (the rears in Union Jack configuration), auto headlights and wipers, an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Navigation Plus and Apple CarPlay, and MINI’s Comfort Plus Pack, which bundles together parking sensors, a reversing camera and power folding mirrors.
DRIVING THE MINI 60 YEARS EDITION
The burble from the MINI’s exhaust at tick over is evidence enough that the big-engine-in-small-car formula still has plenty of merit. And while a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds might not sound terribly impressive in this age of Ludicrous mode-enabled Teslas, it still feels more than brisk enough in a supermini-sized car.
What the Cooper S doesn’t give you is much in the way of high-revving theatrics; this is an engine geared more towards low-down and mid-range torque, which in turn gives the MINI a muscular, mature nature that makes day-to-day driving a breeze. On that note, while the ride on those 17-inch rims isn’t the smoothest, nor it is in any way unbearable.
The surfeit of torque also puts quite a bit of demand on the front tyres, which on anything other than smooth and dry Tarmac (not a combination that’s overly common in the UK) can struggle to get the engine’s full power to the road without the car jinking from side to side in the process. While this torque steering effect might sound unruly, it’s actually part of what makes a modern MINI, and the Cooper S in particular, such an involving car to drive – you simply can’t afford to ignore what’s going on.
The car-to-driver communication doesn’t end there, either. Because as has ever been the case, the MINI remains a gem of a driver’s car, with a chassis that with just a modest level of commitment will hop and skip beneath you, its nose tucking in or pushing on in direct relation to what you’re doing with the pedals. It’s an entirely welcome level of interaction.
A SOFTER SIDE TO ITS CHARACTER
What the 60 Years Edition lacks is the razor-sharp edge that you get with something like a Cooper S JCW or Ford Fiesta ST. Instead there’s a seemingly slighter softer side to the throttle response that pushes this particular Cooper S away from feeling like a true hot hatch. It’s likely that the automatic gearbox doesn’t help here either, for even in its Sport mode it doesn’t shift quite as crisply as one of MINI’s six-speed manuals.
What we have here then is more of a warm hatch than a hot one, although whether that matters in the grand scheme of what this 60 Years Edition is and who it is designed to appeal to is debatable. Simple fact is, as interesting as it might be and as cool as it might look, the price of the 60 Years Edition will make it impossible for many people to justify. That, however, is also precisely the point. It is a car for the kind of MINI enthusiast who is happy to spend big, and after this long in the game BMW will have a pretty good idea of just how many people that is. Anybody else suspect the answer might be just over 500?
MINI Cooper S 60 Years Edition
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 145mph
Fuel economy: 39.8mpg (WLTP combined)
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