Start up a new Mini Cooper, select Sport mode and the touchscreen cheerily promises ‘Maximum go-kart feel’.
Not so in the original. Here, you’ll find no drive modes, no touchscreen, no try-hard marketing speak. The classic Cooper simply delivers maximum go-kart feel all the time. In a torrid year, no car has made me smile more.
The Mini was never supposed to be sporty, of course. To quote legendary motoring scribe LJK Setright: ‘It was an essentially humanistic concept… not a car for engineers, nor for motoring enthusiasts, but for the people, a car in which 80 per cent was theirs to occupy as they liked’. The people clearly agreed, buying nearly 5.4m Minis over its 41-year production life. It remains the best-selling British car of all time.
Perfect packaging and clever rubber cone suspension also endowed the Mini with alert, inertia-free handling. And