Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The new MINI and Miley Cyrus are more alike than you might think

THE new MINI and the singing brat from the Disney Channel, Miley Cyrus, have more in common than you might think.

Connoisseurs of pop culture might have raised an eyebrow when the Hannah Montana star strode confidently onto the stage at the MTV Video Awards, dressed in a skin-coloured bikini, and proceeded to treat the entire world to the most cringeworthy four minutes of television yet devised. Yes, Miss Montana’s sold millions of MP3s and singlehandedly invented something called ‘twirking’ as a result, but the world has been left a poorer place in her wake.

All of which leads me nicely to the third generation MINI. Which, like Miley, will be a storming sales success but never be quite as fondly as remembered as what went before.

It’s a debate BMW – the MINI’s German masters, don’t forget – have prompted themselves, by picturing the 2014 model next to not only its 2006 and 2001 predecessors, but also the brilliant, Alec Issigonis-penned original of 1959 vintage. While it’s bordering on the cliché to point out how much bigger the modern MINIs are compared to the 1959 car, it’s entirely fair game to point out that the latest version is bloated compared to even its Noughties predecessors, being longer, wider and taller. It’s also not especially pretty either, considering how much – and I admit it grudgingly, as a classic Mini fan – I like the lines of the 2001 MINI.

The 2014 offering might well be fantastically good fun to drive or unflinchingly reliable – in the same way Miley might make a mean cup of tea or be a dab hand at Scrabble – but compared to what’s been before it’s an opportunity for something innovative and exciting missed in a bid to hit the top of the charts. The new MINI, like the new Miley, could have offered us something genuinely interesting that moves the game on, but what we’ve got is more of the same, just a bit uglier.

Personally, I prefer my small cars to be a bit more like Lily Allen, with a bit more beauty and intellectual depth thrown in. The revised Citroen C1, in other words.

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