2004 All-Star: Small Car

0402 Mini 01 S

Photographed by Ian Dawson

We stay between the lines in our off-roaders, we stay within the law in our sports cars, we sit by ourselves in luxury sedans built for five. We are relentlessly pestered to buy things we won't use and don't need. Yet we're only human. We want a little fun, a little style, a little substance. Readers, there is an antidote to conspicuous consumerism: the remarkable, BMW-engineered Mini. The $16,999 Cooper and the $20,399 supercharged Cooper S embrace the basic architecture that made the original Mini so indelible: independently suspended wheels pushed far out to the corners, chairlike seating for four under a tallish roof, a spirited little engine mounted transversely to drive the front wheels. There's also the expected passel of BMW safety and performance features, plus quality, reliability, and resale value. The Mini embodies unfamiliar notions: Spend a little, get a lot; drive small, smile big.

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