Admittedly, hooning down the autobahn in Germany at nigh-on 250km/h wasn’t exactly how I imagined I’d be reviewing Mini’s new trio of uniquely designed ‘go-karts’, but I guess needs must and some days are better than others.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, for these design ‘Editions’ (Untamed, Resolute and Untold) Mini hasn’t changed anything to do with the performance side of the range, so the Hatch, Clubman and Countryman all come with the brand’s trademark go-kart ride, equally nothing has been done to their size or shape either, but oddly, they do ‘feel’ different to drive.
So finding a less intense, (read far slower) area of Munich to play in, I went to further explore the intricacies that help make these special editions so attractive.
Firstly the ‘Resolute’ three door Cooper S hatch that I had been hooning around in. Now according to MIni, Resolute emphasises the individuality, traditional style, self-confidence and unmistakable charisma of the original Mini and although the design spec extends across the 5-door hatch, fully-electric Mini Electric and Mini Convertible, the manual 3-door I was in really exemplified the design’s intent.
Its rebel green paintwork (normally a JCW exclusive colour) contrasted well with the pepper white roof and mirror caps. However, when behind the wheel all you get to see outside are the asymmetrical parallel line bonnet stripes whose light and dark gold colouring match well with the ‘resolute bronze’ in areas such as side scuttles and door handles, plus on the headlight, rear light and grille surrounds.
The re-glammed exterior is also accented in piano black in places such as the Mini logos, radiator grille and tailpipe tips, and in turn match the sporty 18-inch alloy wheels in a pulse spoke black design.
The hatch’s interior is an experience all by itself with its sports seats bathed in a light yellow/gold chequered fabric/leatherette finish, and a dash that features parallel and evenly curved pinstripe lines in a light shade of gold just like the bonnet stripes – it’s all very tactile too.
To empathise the feeling of driving something special, Mini has added things like a laser-engraved ring for the instrument cluster (which has the latest generation operating system), a special cabin lighting system for night driving and an upmarket Nappa sports leather steering wheel that bears the edition emblem on the lower spoke, just in case you forget which model you’re driving.
As I said before, the 3-door Resolute hatch performs the same as a regular Cooper S hatch, but it just feels better. The brighter furniture and golden/bronze trim gives a sense of exclusivity and for me, having a manual gearbox and driving the wrong side of both the car and road just added to the Mini thrilling experience.
Still beaming from the hatch I then switched to the ‘not so Mini’ Mini Countryman and with it the ‘Untamed’ theme. Untamed is about being ready for all the adventures that lie beyond the city limits. My German review model was the ALL4 all-wheel drive, Cooper S plug-in Hybrid that was both practical in size and yet semi-guilt free in terms of emissions. Time to explore.
The Untamed exterior design is specifically tailored for those that love the great outdoors, with exclusive Momentum Grey metallic paintwork and contrast black protective guards, roof and trim. The reflector and lower inserts are painted in Momentum Grey metallic too, while the plug-in cap ‘E’ and decals, including four diagonal stripes on the side came in frozen bluestone. It all rests on handsome 18-inch alloy wheels in an Untamed 2-tone design with burnished surfaces.
Alas, the bonnet is unstriped therefore not much to capture your attention through the windscreen, but crane your neck backwards and you’ll find ‘Untamed’ on the rear side windows – not recommended while driving.
Nature-inspired shades of green and blue dominate the interior, with exclusive Highland Green furniture contrasting with blue and green stitching. But by far the coolest interior feature is the illuminated frozen bluestone dash that comes with a printed landscape pattern analogous to the door sill trims. It’s the first time that a large-scale graphic has served as a motif on the dash and apparently an additional effect is achieved by the ‘Untamed’ lettering visible in the night design – unfortunately I only drove in daytime.
There are a number of Untamed monikers around the cabin, and you could spend a fair while hunting them down, or as with all these themed Mini’s, simply cast your eye on the bottom spoke of its Nappa sports leather steering wheel.
The EV style start up sound (or lack thereof) was a stark contrast to the hot hatch I had just driven, and despite its greater size, the Countryman felt rapid when on the move. The sports seats seem to offer more comfort than the hatch, I guess ready for the long haul, and the suspension was a little more forgiving, but still Mini taut. Although the German countryside was new to me and there was plenty to see out of the window, that mountain range dash was what caught my eye the most, very cool.
Lastly, and what turned out to be my favourite of the new trio, the ‘Untold’ Clubman. ‘A sporty understatement’ was apparently the brief and the designers must have taken it to heart as the moniker was just a U.
My Clubman was the JCW variant with the range topping 225kW engine, and as if that wasn’t enough to grab my attention, the main paintwork was sage green, a first for Clubman, with the surrounds on the lower body sections in a dark shade of green.
The Untold’s side scuttles have been manufactured using a high-quality 3D printing process and albeit subtle, have a specific stripe pattern which is similar to five narrow, parallel sport stripes that run centrally across the bonnet. But for me, the most striking feature of the Untold, is the use of refined brass hues around the nose and 18-inch feet, it’s most excellent.
The sage green colour scheme continues on into the cabin, but so too does the brass, with the vent surrounds really drawing your eye, thankfully not enough to distract you from a thrilling JCW drive though.
Untold, Untamed and Resolute, three unique design statements for three unique Mini offerings. Like I said, the JCW Clubman was my pick of the trio and the one I opted for when riding the autobahn back to the hotel. It’s just right in terms of size and space, plenty of power underfoot and in terms of design, understated and yet brassy.