2019 Mini Cooper Oxford Edition - Mini for Millennials
2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop Oxford Edition
I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of an Anglophile — at least in the automotive realm. I don’t take any interest in the drama surrounding England’s monarchy, nor do I drape my clothing with any form of the Union Jack. I’ve simply come to enjoy the cars of the British motoring industry.
After all, I did spend many nights and weekends as a kid rolling around a cold concrete floor, dusted in stale Castrol and kitty litter, helping to get my dad’s 1970 MGB running. I lost a pair of eyebrows to a massive backfire while sorting out tuning issues on the pair of SU carburetors. And I fondly recall the 2002 Mini Cooper S my dad and stepmother bought new — a car she still owns fifteen years after dad’s passing.
So when a new British car passes my way, I’m sure to take notice. Especially when it’s a car that has potential to create new young enthusiasts. This 2019 Mini Cooper Oxford Edition is one of those things — a bargain-price runabout that promises affordable fun.
Unfortunately, I can’t buy this one. Mini offers this Oxford Edition only to current college students, recent college grads, active duty US Military members, and recent retirees. On top of a price (before delivery) for a base Mini Cooper of $21,900, you add these 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic moonroof, and heated front seats — and the price drops!
Automatic transmission is standard, but a manual transmission (as found on my tester) is a no-charge option. Mini lists the Oxford edition for the discounted price of $19,750 (2-door) or $20,750 (4-door), plus destination charges.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve surely spent a few too many minutes on the miniusa.com build-and-price tool over the years, specifying a two-door hot hatch to a price well over $50k for some reason. At this price, the Oxford Edition presents something we haven’t seen out of England since the days of Lucas electrics: a real bargain.
No, it’s not a performance car. With just 134 horsepower to move 3,627 pounds, it’s nowhere near what we’d call a hot hatch. Yet this basic Mini is simply a pleasure to drive. The steering is light and direct, with very little body roll to the suspension. The shifter has similarly light, not-too-long throws. The clutch action is light and progressive. If you’re looking for a car to introduce the beauty of manual transmissions, you’d struggle to do better than a three-cylinder Mini Cooper.
A few months ago, I reviewed the hotter Mini John Cooper Works model — that one featuring a 228 horsepower turbocharged engine paired with an automatic transmission. This time around, I worried that I’d struggle to release the clutch with the driver’s seat adjusted to fit both myself in the front (six feet, four inches tall) and my kids (both over five feet tall) in the rear.
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I needn’t have worried. I had plenty of room, as did the kids. While they wouldn’t be happy on a long road trip, an hour in traffic didn’t cause any more than the usual tween angst.
For the target market for the Oxford Edition, this is a great choice. The driver and a single passenger have plenty of room, and the folding rear seat reveals a hatch area large enough to move everything out of the dorm. You might need to borrow a truck when you go to IKEA for furniture, though smaller flat-pack boxes should fit fine.
Visually, the only thing that distinguishes the Oxford Edition from a base Mini Cooper are the 17-inch alloy wheels. I’m generally not a fan of big alloys on an otherwise basic car — but at 205/45-17, the tires have enough sidewall to soak up most road imperfections. The bigger wheels here nicely dress up a car that has become nearly ubiquitous in the past two decades.
I’m afraid the biggest problem with the Mini Cooper Oxford Edition is the lack of buzz. I had no idea that it existed until it showed up at my doorstep. To be fair, I’m not the target market — but the younger folks I know hadn’t heard about a budget-friendly Mini Cooper, either.
Looks like I need to enroll in grad school or hope that, in a few years when the eldest is off to school, Mini is still offering this deal. She can drive my old SUV — dad wants a cheap Mini.
[Images: © 2020 Chris Tonn/TTAC]
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