Back in 1999, the results of the international competition “Car of the XX century” were announced. According to the opinion of automotive experts and professional journalists from all over the world, as well as Internet voting, the legendary British MINI took the second place in it, losing leadership only to the American Ford Model T. Why is it so good?
A bit of history. In 1952, the British automobile companies Austin Motor Company and Morris Motors announced a merger and renaming into the British Motor Corporation. In 1956, the head of the British Motor Corporation, Leonard Lord, created an eight-person working group led by the talented British engineer and designer Alec Issigonis.
It was Alec Issigonis who became the author of the key decisions that brought the car deafening popularity: he installed a four-cylinder in-line engine with water cooling in the front transversely and combined it with a gearbox with a common oil sump, and placed the wheels as close as possible to the corners of the body. As a result of this arrangement, the passenger compartment began to occupy 80% of the vehicle area. It was a record! And then in 1959 the first MINI appeared – however, then it was officially called the Austin 850 or Morris 850 in different markets, and the numbers corresponded to the working volume of the engine, which developed 34 horsepower.
Our dark blue car with a white roof cap is the third generation of the iconic British model. And the chunky machine looks just stunning! Apart from the MINI, I recall only two cars that have hardly changed over the years and are unmistakably recognized in the stream: these are Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen and Porsche 911. I first saw MINI on TV in the famous British TV series “Mr. Bean” – Rowan Atkinson’s hero drove first on an orange, and then on a green with a black hood machine. Enzo Ferrari drove the Mini (he had three of them!), Pink Floyd founder Sid Barrett, singer Madonna. And you know what? MINI hasn’t changed much since then.
A recognizable body profile with a low horizontal roof, an almost vertical windshield, round headlights, wheels at the corners of the body – this “Mini” seems to have returned from the past. And that’s great, because the MINI’s retro style is subtly associated with childhood. And in the sporty performance of John Cooper Works, the Mini also looks very cocky. Large air intakes at the front, a powerful “lip” of the front spoiler, a “nostril” on the hood, a hexagonal radiator grille in a small cell with a red transverse strip. There are JCW badges on the sides, and the rear bumper has a diffuser at the bottom and two growling tailpipes in the middle.
Under the unexpectedly gigantic bonnet, a two-liter four-cylinder turbo engine is modestly hiding. It develops 231 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque, which is quite good for 1220 kilograms of curb weight, isn’t it? As a result, the MINI John Cooper Works with its six-speed automatic transmission accelerates from 0 to 100 km / h in just 6.1 seconds. If you are fearless enough, you will be able to accelerate this little car to 246 km / h. Compared to the previous model, engine displacement increased by 25%, power was increased by 10% and torque was increased by 23%. The turbocharger is integrated into the steel exhaust manifold, while the infinitely variable valve lift and variable valve timing at the inlet and outlet are borrowed from BMW. By the way, for four cylinders, the exhaust sound is wonderful: juicy, deep and … evil. That’s what you don’t expect from a small car!