Small is big, or so it seems, these days, with all manner of new products, small, smaller and smallest coming to market as buyers put a premium on fuel efficiency. But no brand has done more to change the perception of what a small car can be than Mini, the British marque showing that downsized automobiles can be much, much more than just econoboxes.
And now, just short of a decade after the 2002 launch of the reborn Mini nameplate, the British marque is getting ready to roll out an assortment of new offerings that will bring to seven its model line-up. We had the chance to spend a couple days in Nashville, this month, with the first of the next-gen products, the 2012 Mini Coupe.
The good news is that these latest offerings are not just more of the same. True, many of them are modern takes on models Mini originally offered decades ago. But there’s no confusing the Mini Cooper with the Countryman crossover or even the new Coupe, which Mini’s U.S. chief Jim McDowell suggests is “not like any Mini you’ve ever before.”
Our trip through Nashville and into the surrounding countryside suggests he’s right, wherever we headed, passersby stopping to stare at the first Mini to adopt what designers like to call a “three-box” design. Nor will you confuse the 2012 Mini Coupe with a classic sedan. Then there’s the steeply raked windshield, angled another 13 degrees compared to the standard-issue Mini. But perhaps the most distinctive feature is the new 2-seater’s “helmet roof,” which adds to the Coupe aggressive stance.