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Cars Worth Noting – 2004 BMW Mini

2004 BMW Mini

Now I know what the buzz is all about. At last count, I think BMW has sold something like 160 Mini’s to automotive journalists. In fact, they were selling so many that they were limiting the number in the press fleet, hence my late arrival to the party.

When BMW made a commitment to expand its portfolio, small car seemed like an appropriate place. It was obvious, however that BMW would not produce a boring or inexpensive small car.

“Luxury brands have different value systems than the value systems of commodity brands,” says Tom Purves, chairman and CEO of BMW. And the mini is different on all levels.

The mini is not only fun to drive, it’s also fun to look at and (hopefully without sounding too bizarre) it’s fun to touch.

The designers have approached the interior with the same whimsy that inspired the exterior. The oversized speedometer is flanked by HVAC vents with soft satin-finished edges. That theme carries through to the steering column- mounted tach and all the rings and things that make up the gearbox area and cupholders. The soft touch satin-finish is also found on the inner door panels as well. Imagine a car that’s as fun to hang on to as it is to drive.

I drove the Mini S with the 160 hp supercharged 16-valve four-cylinder engine mated to the five-speed manual transmission. While the oversized shift knob was quite a handlful, the Mini wasn’t.

The Mini cornered like a big go-cart and demanded to be driven with the same fun intent. Every trip was a joy ride that pleased all of the senses. A week in this car just left me wanting more. I think BMW nailed it in one of the subheads on its press kit. It simply states in such whimsical seventies retro, Mini cars — maxi enjoyment.

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