The original Mini Cooper must be feeling old: its BMW-designed successor has just turned ten years old.
While the original Mini was in production starting in 1959, the car spawned the retro successor that we know as the Mini Cooper in 2002. In the proceeding ten years, Mini has sold hundreds of thousands of Cooper models and helped to usher in an era of retro rebirth, a trend since followed by cars like the new Chevrolet Camaro and Fiat 500.
Along the way Mini's quirky attitude towards driving (or motoring, in deference to Mini's British heritage) earned it plenty of admirers. Mini's topless models come standard with an interestingly named open-ometer, which measures the amount of time a driver drives the car with the top down over the life of the car, and in 2011 it created a cheeky viral video about driving a manual transmission car that made some not-so-subtle comparisons to puberty. As a result (or perhaps despite it), Mini's take rate on manual transmissions is well above the norm.
The 2002-era Mini Cooper was available only with four seats and a hardtop, it has since spawned five other variants: the Cooper convertible, two-seat Coupe, Roadster convertible, all-wheel-drive crossover Countryman, and quirky, long-wheelbase Clubman. All six of the Mini Cooper models are available in three trim levels: in base Cooper form, powered by a 121-hp 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine; in hotter Cooper S form, which adds a turbocharger and brings the horsepower count up to 181; and in the enthusiast-favored John Cooper Works guise, which turns up the boost even further to a quick 208 hp. The current halo car is the John Cooper Works Countryman, which makes 211 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, which is sent through all four wheels, the first JCW-spec Mini to do so.
With ten years under its belt, does Mini show any signs of fading into obscurity? Signs point to no: the Mini Cooper is well supported in BMW's future product plans (including its small car platform strategy), so another ten years for the automaker isn't out of the picture. Cheers to that.