It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since Mini washed up on American shores again. To celebrate, Mini has released the 2023 Mini 20 Years Edition, a 2023 Mini Cooper S four-door hardtop that is now appearing at US dealerships with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $37,185, including destination and handling.
It is is offered in three colors used for both the American and British flags: Chili Red, Pepper White and Island Blue with silver roof and mirror caps. The driver’s side of the bonnet has a contrasting red, white and blue stripe.
A star adorns the passenger side of the bonnet. Other equipment details include a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, side scuttle inserts, door sills, C-pillar decals and piano black trim strips. The 20 Years Edition comes with all-season tires on 17-inch black tentacle-spoke wheels.
As the Cooper S, it is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged engine with 189 hp.
Small car with big style
Step inside and you’ll find an interior draped in carbon black leatherette, an anthracite headliner and a nappa leather steering wheel with special 20 Years Edition badging. In the immediate vicinity are two shift paddles for controlling the 7-speed sports dual-clutch automatic transmission. Piano black trim and 20 Years emblems complete the distinctive interior.
As you would expect from a special edition, it is packed with comfort and convenience features. There’s dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, touchscreen navigation, Mini Assist and TeleServices, real-time traffic information, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth with USB, and a digital instrument cluster.
It also comes with the endearing charm of Mini, a personality that makes it unique in the automotive world.
The vehicle is a hold until new models arrive. A taste of the future can be seen in the Mini Concept Aceman, an all-electric crossover SUV unveiled in July. At 159.4 inches long, 78.3 inches wide and 62.5 inches high, it maintains the Mini’s diminutive proportions while reinterpreting its styling cues for a new electrified era. However, Mini has not released any performance data.
More than two decades
Although Mini is celebrating two decades in the United States, it is the model’s second tour of duty in the United States as its history is much older.
The story of the Mini in the 1950s, when engineer and designer Sir Alec Issigonis was commissioned by BMC management to create a four-seater, affordable, and fuel-efficient entry-level vehicle. Given the unlimited design flexibility, Issigonis produced a groundbreaking vehicle that would be sold at a newly established price of £495.
Wanting to make the most of the space in this small vehicle, Issigonis turned the 4-cylinder engine sideways instead of the usual front-to-back. It also provided power to the front wheels, not the rear wheels, negating the need for a space-consuming powertrain hump required on rear-wheel drive cars. It also had a spartan interior with a floor-mounted starter, manual choke and sliding windows.
Introduced on August 29, 1959 as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor, it was an instant hit. BMC expanded the line with the Morris Mini Traveler and Austin Seven Countryman station wagons, the Mini Van, the Mini pickup, and the Mini Moke SUV.
There was even a luxury variant, the Vanden Plas, and a performance model, the 55 hp Mini Cooper. The Mini would remain in production until 2000, outliving its parent company Rover as it was sold to BMW in 1994.
The original Mini arrived in the US in March 1960 as the Austin 850 Mini. It weighed about 1,300 pounds, made 35 horsepower, and started at $1,295, or $15,765 adjusted for inflation. That undercut the $1,565 Volkswagen Beetle with similar performance and better handling. British Motor Corp. continued to sell the Mini in the United States until 1968, when new safety and emissions regulations caused BMC to withdraw the Mini from the US market.
A new Mini for a new century
In 2001, an all-new BMW-designed Mini was launched in the United States as the Mini Cooper. Larger than before, it retained front-wheel drive and was fitted with a 115 hp or 172 hp 4-cylinder engine. Models continued to include the coupe, cabriolet, and Clubman wagon.
So although Mini is celebrating 20 years of its current model, it’s actually 62 years old.
But 20 years sounds better.