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Angry-looking big Mini is a fun drive

Is calling a Mini big an oxymoron?

After all, among other things, the name Mini means – according to my Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary –"of a small or reduced size in comparison with others of its kind." Not only that, but the original Mini of classic car fame was a truly small car – a very small car. Heck, when I was in school, we used to marvel at how our music teacher (who seemed at the time to be about nine feet tall) managed to fold himself into his Mini.

BMW's reimagining of the Mini is – and sure feels like – a much larger car, not that it reminds me of a land barge at all. Fortunately, every modern Mini I've driven has also been a blast to drive (like pretty well every BMW I've driven, in fact), and the little critter has also evolved since then, adding "SUV" and "wagon" versions, among others.

So, it was that the 2019 Mini Countryman found its way to Chateau Bray for a week heading into the Christmas holidays. And it wasn't just a Countryman, it was the John Cooper Works ALL4 Midnight Black Edition that features more power, all wheel drive, a sport suspension, Brembo brakes, and offers nearly as much driving fun as you can get with an automatic transmission. more...

Mini Countryman a mad ride

Is the Mini Countryman as angry a car as it looks? Well, no. But what is? After all, this Mini looks pretty mad.

It's a bit strange, because minis are traditionally cute little things. Judging by the look on the Countryman's face, er grille, however, with its unhappy-looking downturned ends, the Countryman looks as if it's quite PO'd. Is it saying "back off, I don't want to be driven?"  

The Mini's mean mien is a mite mystifying. After all, it's a Mini, so it's designed to be driven and to be enjoyed. On the other hand, the "Countryperson" appears to be meant more as practical Mini for everyday use than the typical, er, "mini-Mini" fun and sporty car line. I can't wait to see their take on the "Mini-Van." more...

Mini Clubman Adds Room, Doesn't Subtract Fun

It's cute as a bug's ear and a lot of fun to drive – even though its base version isn't that powerful. Yet somehow, BMW has managed to make its Mini Clubman not only engaging, but also reasonably practical.

That's quite a balancing act!

The Mini Clubman is a little longer than the garden variety Mini Cooper, with a clamshell-type rear door that opens to both sides, rather than the conventional upward-opening panel you see more often on hatchbacks and wagons. It also features a rear-hinged "suicide door" on the passenger side to help facilitate entry and exit to the surprisingly roomy and comfortable rear seat. more...

Mini Cooper S – "S" is for "Smile"

It may be called a Mini, but the driving pleasure is nothing short of Maxi.

This flatulent little road rocket provided the most fun I’ve had behind the wheel in quite a while, is cute as a bug’s ear and can actually seat four people in a pinch – no pun intended.

When BMW brought back the long dead Austin Mini a few years ago, they weren’t just joining the retro car fad; they were exhuming an innovative little car that started a revolution with its transversely-mounted engine and front wheel drive configuration. Its low weight, low center of gravity and delightful power to weight ratio made it a favorite at race tracks and rallies, as well as in the daily commute.

The new Mini takes that revered base and builds it into a modern car that brings the joy of the old Mini back and is surprisingly practical if you aren’t hauling sheets of plywood. more...

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Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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