What is it?
To put the new Mini 1499 GT in context, a little history is needed. Back in 1969, if you wanted to get your hands on a Mini that had a just a little bit more in the way of poke and performance, you’d likely find yourself looking at the 1275 GT. Originally billed as a sporting model, this go-faster Mini was powered by a larger 1275cc engine (the older Cooper used a 998cc unit) that developed a modest 59bhp, and could crack 60mph from a standstill in 12.9 seconds.
By the standards of the time, that would have likely warranted a “phwoar” or two for sure. It may not have been as quick as the Cooper S, which was discontinued in the UK in 1971, but the 1275 GT was cheaper to buy, run and insure - so you can see why it would have appealed to the contemporary petrol head.
Fast-forward to 2018, and history seems to have repeated itself in the form of this: the new 1499 GT. It too is billed as a sporting model, but at £16,990 it’s more affordable than the current Cooper S, and with the 101bhp three-cylinder engine from the Mini One upon which it’s based at its nose, it’s also cheaper to run and insure - if not quite as quick. As with it’s ancestor, the “1499” badging reveals the displacement of its engine, but as this is a limited-run, special edition model it also signifies how many examples will roll off the firm’s Oxford production line.
Don’t think of this as your regular Mini One with some fancy “1499 GT” gold decals down its flanks, though. Oh no. There’s much more besides. This Mini has been treated to blacked-out 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, tinted windows and white indicator caps. There’s plenty of John Cooper Works goodness too, including a bodykit, sports seats, steering wheel and badging throughout. Credit where credit’s due, Mini knows how to make a good-looking compact hatch.