In North America the current MINI is being marketed as an “around town” car. Very few people would drive such a small vehicle on the highways but because of the fuel savings, ease of parking and general all around economy, it is a popular vehicle.
But having said that most people are cautious about the types of vehicles they drive on the highway, the problem is not a safety issue at it relates to the construction of the MINI. In fact, critics of the car feel that the company has gone too far in making the car what they perceive as armor-proof increasing the length and the width of the vehicle while removing storage space and legroom.
Further in crash tests, the MINI out performs many other similar sized vehicles displaying its continued safety record. The problem for the public is when they are faced with long daily drives on three to six lane highways racing against heavy transport trailers and large buses, how would one fare in a serious accident or pile-up? Safety standards or not, a small car is going to take the brunt of the collision.
It should also be remembered that the original Minis were fashioned after racing cars, a feature that gave them better handling and maneuverability. Travelling on hills with curves, tiny streets with little room to manage, and winding roads are perfect environments for this feisty little car.
Even today, since BMW owns the division and BMW is known for its quality vehicles, the MINI remains a safe vehicle. Earlier models experienced blind spot issues with the oval rear view mirror but newer models have been corrected using the rectangle mirror instead like other North American vehicles. And it is apparently quite adept at handling the snow and ice in the winter.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2008 test results show the MINI Cooper two and three door hatchbacks as having scores of fours and fives which indicates a low propensity to rollovers when confronted in a collision and a low chance of serious injury in front or side impacts.
Looking at the European market and areas where smaller vehicles have traditionally been the norm on the road, safety would not be questioned. The MINI is probably among the safest vehicles to drive. Regardless of what part of the world one lives, the MINI is a safe vehicle to drive, all things being equal. It comes with standard safety features and then some such as four airbags instead of the standard two, plus the company strives to build a safe, solid vehicle.