Has MINI Lost Its Way? I Compare a Classic MINI Cooper to a New One to Find Out!

Sometimes we forget just how the old Mini used to be

In the one image above, we span a whopping sixty years of automotive history. In this video, Tommy takes a look at TFL’s latest purchase — a 1993 Rover Mini — against his much more modern 2010 Mini Cooper S. In that, we aim to answer a philosophical question: Has the modern Mini brand lost its way?

The original Mini and its performance Cooper variants spanned some 41 years in production. From 1959 to 2000, it rose to prominence as one of the most iconic British cars around, but near the end of its production run Rover Group — then owners of the Mini brand — fell under the ownership of BMW. The German automaker then sold off other brands under the Rover Group (like Land Rover), but kept Mini and launched an all-new model in 2000.

There’s no reason to beat around the bush: The classic Mini is one of the most fun cars to drive, period. It’s outfitted with basic equipment and you probably don’t want to crash one. However, it weighs under 1,500 pounds (an impossible feat with any modern car), and with the wheels right at the cars of its tiny footprint it handles like a go kart on the road.

What about its modern counterpart?

Tommy’s Mini Cooper JCW is technically the second gneeration. BMW built the first “new” Mini from 2000 to 2006, while this specific car is a 2010 model. Compared to the old hatchback, it sports more modern features (as you’d expect) and substantially more power. Cleverly, BMW carried some retro touches. The massive central speedometer and the air vents are two key examples. While those are neat touches, the new Mini has conveniences like push-button start, while also still offering a six-speed manual transmission.

Of course, since we’re living in modern times, the new Mini is significantly larger than the car it replaced. That means a fair amount of front seat headroom, even if the car is still small by modern standards. It offers a great deal more practicality, while remaining affordable (at least used) compared to its classic counterpart. But does it have the same character when you’re sitting in it as the old car did?

We’ll leave that decision up to you, but check out the video below to see even more comparisons between the two cars. Stay tuned for more newer and classic Mini content coming soon!