Float through any social event with M's fast facts. This week Kevin McIndoe and Elhussain Taha marvel at the new Mini, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
The Instant Expert: Mini Cooper celebrates 10 years
THE BASICS The small car that appeals to everyone. It's funky, smart and cheap to run. It is also one of the nippiest and most manoeuvrable cars on the road. As befitting its everyman status, drivers can choose from a range that includes a Cabrio (convertible), a Clubman (estate), a Countryman (a five-door crossover SUV) and the fast John Cooper Works Challenge (a purpose-built race car).
THE BACKGROUND When production of the classic Mini ended in 2000, BMW, the owner of the brand, announced its successor and launched it in 2001. Now known as the New Mini or the BMW Mini, it has made its presence felt every bit as much as its classic predecessor did. In April 2007, the millionth Mini rolled off the production line after just six years of output, and only one month longer than the classic Mini took to reach that figure, in March 1965.
WOW, THAT'S A LOT Quite. The classic Mini was in production between 1959 and 2000, and in that period sold more than five million cars. It enjoyed a "purple patch" in the Sixties, when everyone from Princess Margaret and Paul McCartney to your Auntie Pauline owned one. The modern Mini has stayed true to the design touches introduced 50 years ago, while bringing the car into the 21st century.
AH, THE DESIGN! Like one of its celebrity owners, Madonna, the Mini likes to change its look and style, and reflects current trends in culture, fashion and the arts. Annette Baumeister, the head of colour and trim at Mini Design, says: "We know customers buy the cars because of the driving experience but design plays a major role in that." The Mini also has a high level of customisation options: roof colours, bonnet stripes, side panels and a huge array of accessories - including, here, the UAE flag.
A BIT OF A STAR THEN? Yes, on screen as well as on the road. The Mini has appeared in more than 400 movies globally in this century alone. The Mini Cooper has been used in chase and getaway scenes in action sequences in film and TV series such as The Italian Job, Without a Trace, CSI: Miami, Heroes, Entourage, Gossip Girl and Melrose Place.
I WANT ONE! Well, you're in good company. Abu Dhabi is the biggest market for the Mini in the Middle East, according to Sarah Klippert, the Mini marketing manager for the region. Klippert says: "In Abu Dhabi, it's very important to highlight the racing aspect, which is our heritage. So we have Mini Cooper S and Mini John Cooper Works Challenge as prominent products here."
A GOOD BUY THEN? Haven't you been listening? The Mini is unique. What other car combines effortless attitude, heritage and drivability? Get down to your local dealer, pronto. Go to www.mini-me.com for starters. Seriously: the website is mini-me!
Five famous Mini owners
SHEIKH HAMAD BIN HAMDAN Known as "the Rainbow Sheikh" for his collection of seven rainbow-painted Mercedes, the man behind the car museum on the road to Liwa also collects Minis both old and new.
MADONNA The Queen of Pop famously sang: "I drive my Mini Cooper and I'm feeling super-dooper" on her track American Life. When she was living in London, her model of choice was the Mini Cooper S. But really, who credited those pictures of her and her children snapped washing it? I mean, hold the front page: "Woman washes car!"
PAUL WELLER The Modfather is an ardent ambassador of the Mini Cooper, and concocted his own one-off model based on a shirt he had designed for Ben Sherman. He auctioned it off last month and raised Dh115,000 for two charities, Nordoff Robbins and War Child.
BRITNEY SPEARS In 2006, Mama Spears was seen driving her Mini convertible. One of her babies was in a child safety seat she had fitted the wrong way and was photographed slipping out of it while sleeping.
JAMES BLUNT The You're Beautiful crooner's preference is for a $1 million (D3.67mn) electric Mini Cooper, developed and given to him by Hybrid Technologies and Nasa.