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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 26, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    Style very much over substance at the Mini Scooter launch

    Michael McAleer

    Having recently celebrated by 34th birthday, I suddenly realised that a few things had passed me by. Fashion is one of these things. Suddenly, I don’t know what I am supposed to wear to fit in. I have been wearing check shirts since 1987 and quite accidentally I find that I am temporarily somewhat in fashion again. But I wasn’t quite prepared for how out of place I would feel at last week’s launch of the new range of Mini Scooter concepts. But then again, I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.

    Mini, that being the new Mini brand conceived by BMW in the late 1990s and which gave birth to the current Mini model range which has recently expanded to include the Mini Countryman SUV is now turning its attention to scooters, but not just any old scooters. They will be electric powered. But rather than just wait to show us these at a motor show, they decided to launch these in London, where the original Mini was made ultra cool and where scooters such as Vespas were king in the 1960s.

    The Mini Scooters

    We had left miserable Ireland in the afternoon and arrived in London to be collected by a chauffer-driven BMW 7-Series, which was lovely and driven into central London to a hotel called St.Martin’s Lane, an ultra-trendy 5-star hotel that I was shocked to find had a vending machine in it designed for rich, forgetful people. Supposing you have just checked into the hotel and realise minutes before your date with Elle McPherson that you have forgotten your watch? Never mind. You can always nip downstairs, pop in your credit card to the machine in the lobby and out will pop a £6,950 vintage Rolex watch. Marvellous.

    Rich folk's vending machine

    Forgotten your watch? No problem.

    Anyway, having negotiated the very busy streets of London to find the Vinyl Factory at Phonica records in Soho where this unveiling would take place it was fun to notice the new London uniform of the fashion glitterati. Glasses. Big, nerdy glasses. Models wore them, men wore them, everyone seemed to wear them. Some people didn’t have glass in them.

    Mini had clearly paid most of the people in attendance. Model Agyness Deyn, a London icon, who looked a little like an eight-year old boy, had been paid probably considerable amounts of money to pose for pictures and show up at the unveiling. Some members of the motoring press looked on in amusement as Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s senior vice president of design attempted to launch the three new scooters, which incidentally are very cool, to an audience that sadly was way cooler. At a motoring event, all present will hang on van Hooydonk’s every word, but here, everyone appeared to be at the bar. Clearly, 80 percent of the people in attendance weren’t entirely sure why they were there, or really cared.

    Is anyone listening?

    The thing is that the scooters are cool. There were three versions, with the coolest for me being the one that was British Racing Green. You use an iPhone as the key and that slots into the ‘dashboard’ of the scooter and works as a sat nav and also monitors your energy use too. The idea is cool and without a doubt the fashionistas who were in attendance will snap them up, if and when they ever go on sale. We will be sure to remind them closer to the time though.

    The line-up


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