It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Mini washed up on American shores once again. To celebrate, Mini has released the 2023 Mini 20 Years Edition, a 2023 Mini Cooper S Hardtop four door, now appearing at U.S. dealers with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $37,185, including destination and handling.
It’s offered in three colors used for both the American and British flags: Chili Red, Pepper White and Island Blue with a silver roof and mirror caps. The driver’s side of the hood wears an offset stripe in red, white and blue.
A star adorns the passenger’s side of the hood. Other trim details include a panoramic moonroof, roof rails, side scuttle inlays, door sill plates, C-Pillar decals and piano black trim. The 20 Years Edition is shod with all-season tires on 17-inch tentacle spoke black wheels.
Being a Cooper S, it’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine generating 189 horsepower.
Little car with big style
Climb inside and you’ll find an interior draped in carbon black leatherette, an anthracite-colored headliner and a Nappa leather steering wheel with special 20 Years Edition badging. Close at hand are a pair of paddle shifters to control the 7-speed sport dual clutch automatic transmission. Piano black trim and 20 Years badging complete the special interior trim.
As you’d expect of a special edition, it’s loaded with comfort and convenience features. There’s dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, touchscreen navigation, Mini Assist and TeleServices, real-time traffic information, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth with USB, and a digital instrument cluster.
It also comes with Mini’s endearing charm, a personality that renders it unique in the automotive world.
The vehicle is a holding action until new models arrive. A hint of what’s coming can be seen in the Mini Concept Aceman, an all-electric crossover SUV unveiled in July. At 159.4 inches long, 78.3 inches wide and 62.5 inches high, it retains Mini’s diminutive proportions, while reimagining its styling cues for a new electrified era. Mini didn’t release any performance specs, however.
More than two decades
Although Mini is celebrating two decades in the United States, it is the model’s second tour of duty stateside, as its history is far older.
The Mini’s story in the 1950s, when engineer and designer Sir Alec Issigonis had been tasked by BMC management with coming up with a four-seat, low-cost, fuel-efficient, entry-level vehicle. Given unlimited design flexibility, Issigonis produced a ground-breaking vehicle, one that would sell for a redetermined price of £495.
Looking to make use of every bit of space in what was to be small vehicle, Issigonis turned the 4-cylinder engine sideways, rather than the usual front-to-back. It also fed power to the front wheels, not the rear, negating the need for a space-robbing driveline hump necessary in rear-wheel-drive cars. It also sported a spartan interior, with a floor-mounted starter, manual choke and sliding windows.
Introduced Aug. 29, 1959 as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor, it was an immediate hit. BMC expanded the line with the Morris Mini Traveler and Austin Seven Countryman station wagons, the Mini Van, the Mini Pick-up and the Mini Moke SUV.
There was even a luxury variant, the Vanden Plas, and a performance model, the 55-horsepower Mini Cooper. The Mini would remain in production through 2000, outliving its parent company, Rover, as it was sold to BMW in 1994.
The original Mini arrived stateside as the Austin 850 Mini in March 1960. Weighing approximately 1,300 pounds, it generated 35 horsepower and started at $1,295, or $15,765 when adjusted for inflation. That undercut the $1,565 Volkswagen Beetle with similar horsepower and better handling. British Motor Corp. continued to sell the Mini in the United States until 1968, when new safety and emissions regulations caused BMC to withdraw the Mini from the U.S. market.
A new Mini for a new century
In 2001, an all-new Mini engineered by BMW launched as the Mini Cooper in the United States. Larger than before, it retained front-wheel drive, and came with a 115-hp or 172-hp 4-cylinder engine. As before, models included the Coupe, Cabriolet and Clubman wagon.
So even though Mini is celebrating 20 years of its current model, it’s actually 62 years old.
But 20 years sounds better.