MINI The Legendary Small Car

MINI Motors has been back on the American market for well over a decade and a half now, and they continue to have a strong buyer base for their small, quirky, and basically, same cars that they brought across the pond eighteen years ago. 

Classic 1960s Mini 1275 GT
The early MINI 1275 GT from the 1960s. Notice the size of this car, compared to today’s MINI.

And if you think today’s MINI cars are the same as they were even five years ago, you need to take another look at these adorable little go-kart-like cars.  Small on the outside, big on the inside, and loaded with technology and safety.

What does MINI do to excite customers?

While MINI has been an enthusiast brand since the beginning because of the fun-to-drive aspects of their car. Now that the brand is under the BMW wing, they have elevated their sense of sportiness and behind the wheel excitement.  Some would say that they had moved up a class or two when they came out with the Goodwood Edition, inspired by their Rolls Royce Brethren.

While they have not changed their cars’ design, they keep the product line fresh with special edition limited in production models. They keep their products in small-batch allotments that are unique from the others even if they are the same basic model design.

They just released two different limited edition models, one that is at a key price point for the value-oriented consumer and a model that celebrates the racer fanboy that is many of us.

Racer Boy MINI

Mini 1499 GT with Piano Black trim
Mini 1499 GT with Piano Black trim.

In a nod to the MINI Cooper 1275 GT’s classic heritage, they have brought out a MINI Cooper 1499 GT for 2021. First of all, it is the look that captures the history of that first and much smaller car, with a Midnight Black Metallic paint and distinctive gold stripes with the 1499 GT inscribed in it. To complete the exterior, MINI has incorporated a Piano Black grille frame, door handles, and headlight rings that surround the modern-day LED headlamps.  Adding Piano Black taillight Rings that highlight the Union Jack LED taillamps.

It does not stop with the use of MINI John Cooper Works (JCW) styling packages with JCW front and rear bumpers, side skirts, and split level spoiler and door entry plates that you would typically only find on the JCW variant of the 2-door hardtop.  Post that body on the standard 17-inch Track Spoke Black wheels with all-season tires. And you have the new for 2021 MINI 1499 GT

MINI 1499 GT an ode to the classic sports MINI of yesteryear.

While it looks good, it excels at performance with the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine that delivers 134 horsepower and 162 foot-pounds of torque. While that sounds good, the Zero to 60 mph time is 7.5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph.  And for the true performance enthusiast, the car comes standard with a third pedal connected to a 6-speed Manual Transmission, though a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is available.

Inside, you will find Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control, the legendary JCW Sports seats in Carbon Black Dinamica/Cloth, and a JCW steering wheel with perforated leather Chili Pepper Red stitching.  The multifunction controls feature the Piano Black finish throughout the interior and an Anthracite headliner.  Add the tech of a 6.5-inch touchscreen that includes a navigation package with MINI Assist eCall, remote services, Apple CarPlay, and a Dynamic Digital Instrument Cluster.

Manufacturers Suggest Retail Price for the MINI 1499 GT will be $27,040 plus $850 Destination and handling fee.

The Affordable Family Oxford Edition Countryman

2021 Oxford Edition MINI Countryman
2021 Oxford Edition MINI Countryman

While the Countryman is the bigger, more family-oriented MINI, the new Oxford Edition brings forth both a front-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive model with space for the family, and a set of standard equipment that will appeal to the buyer looking for a great value along with a fun to drive vehicle.

Based on the Classic Trim, which includes leatherette upholstery, an 8.8-inch display complete with Bluetooth, rear camera and rear park distance control, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a panoramic sunroof. The Oxford Edition adds LED Headlamps and fog lights and the trademark Union Jack, LED taillights to the standard equipment list. Want more? MINI gives you more, eighteen-inch wheels in either Silver or Black with run-flat tires, an anthracite headliner, heated front seats, and automatic climate control. 

Family sized MINI with a lot of standard equipment for less than you might expect.

You may choose between six exterior colors, including metallic paint options. How about British Racing Green IV Metallic? Or maybe Midnight Black metallic, white silver metallic, moonwalk grey metallic, Chili Red (great color), or island blue metallic.  Exterior options include body color or choice of contrasting white or black roof and exterior mirrors.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price reflects a discount of  $5,600 worth of optional equipment that comes standard with the 2021 MINI Cooper Countryman Oxford Edition. You can choose front-wheel drive only at $26,500 or $28,500 for the ALL4 Oxford Edition. Add on to that the destination and handling fee.

MINI Comes In Special Editions

If you look at the MINI cars out on the road, you will see many similarities to design and continuity throughout the years. Where MINI makes changes is in customized special editions directly aimed at their customers who have asked for specific option combinations and specific standard equipment.

Classic Mini was tiny, nimble and a lot of fun to drive.

MINI owners are a very tight community, even those who may not consider themselves driving enthusiasts, they love the individuality that their cars provide them, and special editions do just that.

Check out some of them that are on the market today, like the recently announced MINI Paddy Hopkirk Edition, the MINI Coral Red Edition, and the MINI Sidewalk Edition Convertible. Other popular special editions have included the MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop International Orange Edition and the MINI John Cooper Works Knights Edition.

Mini Electric Concept
Mini Electric Concept – photo from Mini PR

I would be remiss if I did not mention the recently introduced battery-electric MINI that quietly appeared late this Summer. Another classic MINI, just powered by an all-electric drivetrain.

LAP Motorsports takes the MINI to the track in the USA.

If you are interested in MINI Motorsports, check out LAP Racing, based out of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, they have continued to race several six-year-old MINI cars over the past number of seasons. Which shows the longevity and reliability of the vehicles under very tough circumstances.

Acquiring A New MINI

We experienced this Summer when shopping for a 2021 Mini because those that are not already spoken for in dealer inventory are quickly bought by buyers who find themselves wanting a new MINI. And for those of you who want a manual transmission, a tiny fraction of standard shift models are available.   If you are indeed looking for discounts, you will probably not find much of any, as the cars are all pretty much made to order for an already committed customer. Though we always suggest you work through a group that you belong to who offers automotive buying services. You may want to consult your member benefits of a big box warehouse retailer, credit union, a professional association, or other membership groups you belong to see if they have any fleet discount opportunities.

MINI Offers a lot of customization for their cars.
Words by William West Hopper
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Derived from a recent online press introduction, press release, and MINI’s media site.  Photos from the MINI archives and media site.  We want to thank the MINI USA team for providing us with this information to share with our readers.


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