Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes or Gerry Rafferty, most of you will have heard of the real-life Baker Street, in London. Mini isn’t shy about releasing special themed editions of its cars and with this one you get an enormous amount of extra equipment and bling (around $10-12,000 worth) over a standard Mini Cooper, but for less than four grand more – a total price of $39,900.
The Baker Street comes with satellite navigation, 16-inch black alloys, Baker Street trim and Bluetooth and USB functionality. You get the same
90kW/160Nm 1.6-litre engine with a six-speed manual gearbox. Drive it sensibly and you might achieve Mini’s quoted combined fuel consumption of 5.4l/100km. If you’re a demon with the gears, though, it’ll get you to 100kph in 9.1 seconds. If this isn’t enough, you can opt for the Bayswater model which offers similar treatment to the more powerful Cooper S for ten grand more.
Ride quality is firm but not crashy. The turn-in is sharp and go-kart-like at lower speeds; at higher speeds there’s still tautness, but it feels like it’ll push wide in the turns. Fortunately the engine’s power is a match for the handling and you can have a lot of fun. I would imagine (having driven the Cooper S), that the additional power in the Bayswater would see you heading to the tyre shop much more frequently.
The interior is Baker Street-themed. There are no rear passenger doors and the Mini isn’t designed to carry anyone other than small children. The boot is small(ish), but good for a load of shopping and you can fold the rear seats forward.
Being made by BMW, it feels well screwed together and comes with all the safety features you’d expect: ASB, cornering brake control (CBC), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), dynamic stability control (DSC), automatic stability control plus traction (ASC+T), Runflat tyres and six airbags.
What’s not to like? Well, in typical Mini style, you have to relearn everything you already know from operating buttons and switches for every function in every other manufacturer’s car because the Mini makes them ‘cool’ by having aluminium switches between tiny rollbars, and putting them in places you wouldn’t expect. This also means it makes them slightly less convenient. But once you know where they are, it’s fine.
You can’t open the boot without stopping the engine and removing the key – if you’re transporting people/children with gear around then you’ll be surprised at how often this is annoying. It’s also lacking some features that mean it’s showing its age, specifically automatic headlights and wipers.
The raison d’etre of a special edition is to set you apart from the plebeian masses that have bought the standard car. The cosmetic elements of the car must be visible enough to let people know this, but if you were Sherlock Holmes (or his mistress) you wouldn’t be seen dead in anything gaudy. It would have to be sensible, functional and tasteful. The Mini Cooper Baker Street fulfils the objectives. The muted colour scheme and black alloys are suave; the satellite navigation and Bluetooth features are useful (if a little awkward in their operation); the power vs economy vs handling gives a perfect equation of fun vs frugality. Of course, you have to ask yourself whether you would buy a Mini in the first place, but if you would, then the decision to buy the Baker Street is elementary.
- Tasteful addition to the Mini range
- Value for money on the extra equipment
- Quite frugal for a petrol car
- Starting to show its age
- Some minor irritations
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham