2007 MINI Cooper Long Term Road Test


2007 Mini Cooper S: Retro Grade

June 02, 2008

Styled. That's what the Mini's problem is. It's been styled to have all the retro cues that you can fit in a car this small. It's got a big (obnoxious) center mounted speedometer...

It's also got toggle switches (their coolness neutered by guards) and a retro-y font on the gauges. It incorporates the Mini's winged logo into the steering wheel as well as echoing that design in the climate control. It's got a huge old-timey looking gas pedal that was no doubt influenced by early cars which were influenced by planes. I imagine they would have styled in prohibition and mutton chops into the interior if they had more room.

The radio has been styled into uselessness in the most German of traditions; unlabeled buttons. Apparently, the buttons even have multiple uses. But I wouldn't know because I didn't bother to learn them. "But why didn't you just read the manual?" I can hear you cry. I'm sorry, but reading the manual for how to operate a radio is like having to read the manual on how to operate your toaster. If it was well designed to begin with, I wouldn't have to. But that's just it, it wasn't designed it was styled.

All of this seems a big stink to make about such a little thing. But in all honesty, if the car wasn't so good the silly interior wouldn't stand out as being so bad. I really like how it drives. It pulls hard, the steering is great and so are the brakes.

Let's look back then on the interior of an original Mini. To be specific, an Austin Mini Cooper S Mk II. Notice its distinct lack of styling and unnecessary details. Maybe Mini, or BMW or whoever, can style some of their styling out of the next Mini and let us focus on how good the car really is instead of spending time reading the manual to decipher the radio.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 16,352 miles

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