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2018-09-02 00:00

Melinda Ferguson

ODE TO DESIGN Mad about the Mini since childhood, Melinda Ferguson test-drove the new edition in all its three-door and five-door trendy gloryPHOTOs: SUPPLIED

Mini
Price: From R323 300

During the decade or so that I’ve been involved in the motoring industry, I’ve often wondered about the relationship between memory and brand loyalty. There are some brands that elicit a nostalgia in me. Mini is one that strikes me right in my heart’s centre. My fondest childhood memories are of holidays in Ermelo, squashed into the back of my grandmother’s fire engine red matchbox Mini, her tender lamb roasts and stolen moments of snuggling up with her in her mohair-blanketed bed. It’s little wonder that, on my list of dream cars, the Mini is at the top.

The new Mini, launched nationally in South Africa in June, is a far cry from my gran’s matchbox. It comes in three-door, five-door and convertible, with an array of heart-thumping new features.

Let’s start with the LED headlights, with cool Matrix function for the high beam, which are an ode to design and functionality. So everyone knows you’re driving the latest version, Mini has created a Union Jack design for the LED rear lights in honour of its British heritage.

The trendy 6.5-inch colour screen, in all its retro round glory, is the eye-catcher of the cabin, along with USB and Bluetooth interface – all standard. The leather seats are sporty and spacious while the theme of leather and top-notch finishes takes the trim of the cabin to a new level of cool and aspirational. Being a sucker for detail, one of my favourite new features is the Mini logo projection from the exterior mirror on the driver’s side. And if you’re into unique, with Mini Yours Customised you can deck your Mini out to suit your style by way of side scuttles, decorative strips for the cockpit fascia, LED door sill finishers and LED door projectors.

The drives in both the three-door and five-door Mini S are superb, with 141kW of power and 190Nm of torque, powered by a seven-speed Steptronic transmission with double clutch, or eight-speed Steptronic transmission.

In true stylish Mini tradition, for the launch we lunched at Cape Town’s newest art and food hot spot, the Skotnes Restaurant. Named after artist Cecil Skotnes, it’s the culinary arm of the newly opened Norval Foundation, situated against the slopes of the Constantiaberg, with panoramic views of vineyards and mountains.

The gallery houses the private art collection of property mogul and owner Louis Norval, and is the custodian of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, Edoardo Villa Estate Collection and Alexis Preller Archive.

The gallery and surrounding space are brilliantly designed – all eco-adherent and blending into the surrounding wetlands, topped off with a floating, wing-like roof structure that houses a solar field that powers the building.

At the Skotnes we savoured some interesting classical local flavours with an updated twist – the delicious braised lamb shoulder “bobotie” – a homage to Cape Malay cuisine – was a mouth-waterer.

If wealth today is measured by great experiences, my day out in the new Mini and at the Skotnes has left me feeling super-rich.

  • Norval Foundation: 1 Ou Kaapse Road, corner of Steenberg Road, Tokai, Cape Town. Make a reservation at 087 654 5900
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