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How the Mini Set the Standard for Small Cars

Few cars capture the imagination of the public more than the Mini. Even for non-petrol heads, it’s a creation that has come to represent the epitome of charm, style, and longevity within the automotive industry.

Statistics show that BMW sold 361,531 units worldwide in 2018 – a sure sign of the Mini’s enduring appeal all over the planet. But how did such a seemingly simple vehicle become such a staple on roads around the world? What sets it apart from others? And how can you get your hands on one?

Read on to find out.

The history

Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, the original Mini was produced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC), British Leyland, and the Rover Group between 1959 and 2000. BMW acquired the latter in the mid-1990s and, at the turn of the century, sold a large section of the company but kept hold of the rights to be able to continue to use the Mini name.

Issigonis was brought on board by BMC to help create a spate of new models, and when the Suez Crisis led to fuel rationing, the production of smaller cars became a priority. The first versions were marketed as the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor before the Mini name was used in its own right.

The design and style

Although a two-door model, the Mini was designed to create as much space as possible. It was achieved thanks to its transverse engine and front-wheel-drive layout, which maximized the amount of room available to passengers and for luggage. 

The small wheels made the Mini a dream through the corners, and its round headlamps give it a distinctive look that remains to this day. Despite many changes in its name and to some of its features, the essence of the original still resonates with car lovers everywhere.

The modern era

Over the past 20 years, BMW has continued the production of this British natural treasure, offering an abundance of color and trim choices. There is also a range of varying models available, including the Convertible, Clubman, Countryman, and Hatchback, some of which are quite a departure from the original blueprint but no less attractive or charming, and leasing deals from the likes of ZenAuto mean you can get your hands on one for a perfectly affordable price.