It’s 50 years since the first Mini rolled off the Cowley production. To celebrate the momentous half-century of Sir Alec Issigonis’s creation, Mini has released three special editions.

Question is, Would Sir Alec be proud of what the Mini has become? The original Mini was a packaging marvel that did almost as much to bring fun, good value motoring to the masses as the VW Beetle.

On the face of it the latest special editions could not be further from that ethos: The cheapest starts at £18k – as much as a basic Ford Mondeo – which is a lot of cash for a small supermini, while the special edition JCW is expected to cost as much as a Ford Focus RS.

It’s easy to imagine Issigonis being appalled.

On the other hand the Mini, under BMW’s stewardship, has become, for many, as desirable an object as a Louis Vuitton handbag, or a Rolex watch. No other car comes close to matching the brand kudos of a Mini for the price.

The Mini might have changed a lot in 50 years, but it still provides something no other car can. And Issigonis would surely approve of that.