Keeping an icon fresh can be a challenge sometimes, and its even more so when you are trying to add some spice and vigor to the iconic MINI Cooper and its CUV focused sibling the Countryman. However, MINI designers and engineers have always stepped up to the challenge in the past, and they did it again with the unveiling of the MINI Cooper 1499 GT and Countryman Oxford Editions.
1499 GT Edition is a throwback to budget performance
We’ll give MINI credit, we actually had to go back in time (and read a few old books) to find the inspiration for the 1499 GT, with the company paying homage to the 1275 GT which made its inaugural appearance back in 1969. But while the model of that era was all about lightweight handling and performance, the modern version benefits from an infusion of modern muscle, with the car being powered by the base 1.5 liter turbocharged three cylinder that’s good for 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. A formal JCW based creation it isn’t, but we suspect that’s still more than enough performance for urban commuting or even tight service roads. A six speed manual is standard, but buyers that prefer to let the computer do the shifting for them can equip it with an optional seven-speed dual clutch automatic.
Th exterior styling will undoubtedly be this particular variant’s strongest poker hand, with the car MINI featured being adorned in Midnight Metallic paint with contrasting gold stripes running along the lower parts of the car. The rest of the exterior is a curious blend of trim elements, with some parts of the car (like the door handles) being covered in Piano Black trim, while other bits benefit from items from the JCW school of performance, with new side skirts, bumpers, and the rear spoiler being just a few of the pieces that come from the JCW parts family. A slick set of 17-inch black alloy wheels round out the package, and they help inject the MINI 1499 GT with a fresh dose of street cred and attitude.
The interior continues the delicate balance of mixing various traits together, with Carbon Black Dinamica being contrasted nicely with cloth trim. Buyers looking for more bolstering will take pleasure knowing that JCW sourced front sport seats are part of the package, as is a leather wrapped JCW steering wheel. This special edition also boasts a commendable amount of luxury including dual zone climate control, and even a 6.5 inch infotainment system.
Countryman Oxford Edition plays maturity card, comes with maximum levels of equipment
With the 1499 GT edition playing the figurative role of little brother, the Countryman Oxford Edition can be thought of as the more refined older sibling, and prefers to reward its buyers with copious amounts of equipment and strategic pricing. The exterior styling also appears to only benefit from minimum trim changes, with MINI’s press photography showcasing it largely in side profile shots. That would allow the Countryman version to be roughly on par with other Oxford editions, which prefer to let their interiors do the figurative talking.
On that note, the cabin certainly impresses, with buyers benefitting from a very impressive list of standard equipment. The cabin features an anthracite headliner, and the heated front seats and automatic climate control promise true four season comfort for owners. MINI is also known for being creative with their trim packaging over the years, with the Countryman Oxford Edition being equipped with the firm’s Classic suite of equipment. This suite brings goodies such as a full sized sunroof, a leather wrapped steering wheel, and more.
When can I get one?
The wait won’t be long, but buyers will have to act quickly if they want either of these models for their garage. The 1499 GT Edition will be a limited run, and only 150 or so examples are ear marked for the United States. Out of this bunch, only 30 will be equipped with a manual transmission. These thirty examples will also carry a base sticker of $27,890. Add the dual-clutch to the car, and you will add $1,250 more to the final cost.
Meanwhile, the Oxford Edition plays its role as value warrior very vigorously, with a base model starting at $26,750. This is a noticeable discount from a typical base Countryman which starts at $29,250. The Oxford Edition can be had in front wheel drive or All4 all-wheel drive. Buyers that choose to add the latter will be greeted with a $28,750 sticker, but that’s still a decent discount especially when you pair in all the extra equipment that the Oxford Edition brings to the table
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.