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Motoring: Lots to love about special edition Mini

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 5th, 2010

The Mini has been around for 50 years now. While the original Mini was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, the current Mini was styled by a team of BMW designers.

To commemorate its 50th birthday, Mini decided to launch some special edition models. There is the Mini 50 Camden, and then there is the one I tested, the Mini 50 Mayfair.

Personally I don't know why this model is called the Mayfair, because from what I know, Mayfair is just a very trendy part of London.

Perhaps there is a clue there, because this is one trendy Mini. My tester was painted hot chocolate brown, with a toffee colour interior. Sounds good enough to eat, but like all Minis, they are best when you take them for a drive

The Mini, even in its current second-generation of the new style model, has been around for a few years now. Yet, no matter how many times I have driven it, the moment I get into a Mini again, I instantly fall in love. It's just one of those cars that feels right. I love the seating position, I love the interior layout, and I love the classic dials and switches. The only thing I don't love about this or any other Mini for that matter, are its door handles. They are stiff and quite hard to operate, especially if it has been cold.

Good, since we have gotten its niggle out of the way, let me tell you about its other feature that I happen to love, its engine and gearbox. Under its cutesy nose is a 1.6-litre, turbo-charged, fourcylinder engine that produces 172 hp and 177 ft/lbs of torque. Power is sent to the front-wheels via a six-speed automatic or a sixspeed manual, as in my tester.

The manual is just way too much fun. The Mini has one of the nicest gearboxes in the business. The throws are short and precise, making using this manual box a real joy. Similarly the clutch is very easy to manage, so you won't be in any risk of stalling it.

Only thing left is to put it into “Sport” mode and then find some open roads. Trust me, you will love zipping around in this car. Everything from the chassis and suspension set-up to the power and its incredible gearbox will just make you want to drive it more and more. Considering it'll happily do 8.3-litres/100km means it won't cost you much to drive either.

To settle things down again, you get four-wheel disc brakes with ABS that not only do the job very well, but will do so again and again without showing any sign of fading.

People have told me often that they think the Mini is just too expensive for what it is. What they don't see is the quality of engineering that goes into these cars. Yes, they might be small in size, but they are big on high quality components, and that is why I love Minis so much.

So did the Mayfair addition add anything particularly special to the Mini line-up? Simple answer would be no, this is just a cosmetic package, nothing more, nothing less. Any Mini Cooper S would be just as good. But at $34,500 it is quite good value in my mind. So if you haven't driven a Mini yet, I strongly suggest that you do so now.
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