Contrary to every appearance, the Mk2 Mini was an all-new car, although no one seemed to notice while we were conducting the original road test – least of all Mk1 Mini drivers. But then market research has shown that the styling of the previous car was far and away the number one reason for purchase.
This policy was perfectly understandable on BMW’s part, although we can’t help but feel that a little of the visual appeal has been lost in translation. It’s only when you park new next to old that the differences are suddenly so obvious.
The new car looks substantially bigger than the old one. In fact, there’s 55mm more in the nose, and the base of the windscreen is 18mm higher. It doesn’t look quite as cheeky and compact as the first BMW Mini, and the bluff front doesn’t have the complex curvature around the lights that gave the old Mini that bit more character – and also made it horrendously costly to manufacture.
The floor and front bulkhead are the same as before, but that’s where the parts sharing ceases. The new frontal structure features two upper and two lower crash boxes, with a substantial cross beam bolted between the front strut towers for added reinforcement. Although the stiffness of the structure is quoted as unchanged, considerable work has been done to improve impact protection along the sides.
The visual elements of a modest facelift in summer 2010 included more chrome around the front grille area, a revised front bumper designed to improve the Mini’s performance in pedestrian impact tests, and LED rear lights on all models.