Spot the 2011 changes - Mini is exhibit A on how to do retro

Spot the 2011 changes - Mini is exhibit A on how to do retro

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News today the Chrysler PT Cruiser is finally for the chop is no surprise. We've been here before, at least once a year the last few years, but this time it's terminal.

Opportunity lost. If this was Mini, the PT, a smash hit back in 2000, would have been facelifted once, given a diesel for Europe, had a convertible added, been redesigned, gained an additional body style (Clubman), gained another body style, two doors and a four-wheel drive option (Countryman), had two more body variants shown as concepts (coupe and roadster), confirmed those for production and facelifted the rest of the range again.

PT got the diesel (from Mercedes), a facelift and the drop-top. A brief time in assembly in Austria. And then it stopped. Much the same with the 300C where export markets got a wagon version rather than the lower rent Dodge sold in North America. Bit too overpaid footballer for us in Europe, perhaps, but the 300C sold gangbusters in North America and in some export markets. I still dive into one most annual SMMT drive days, enjoying the lazy diesel V6 we get, the American idea of luxury trim and the tank driver slit view out that shallow windscreen. But whither the facelift and the redesign?

Same comments apply to the Beetle, apparently withering on the VW vine as new products like Eos and Scirocco and Passat CC pass it by. Another smash hit that in a decade has had just a minor redo and surely could emulate the revived interest Mini attracted with a comprehensive redesign?

Fiat 500? A bit early, but facelift time can't be far away and I hope the Chrysler owner will eventually do a comprehensive redesign. Meanwhile the Abarth version adds a showroom draw and is a hoot to drive.

If Mini is exhibit A on how to do retro, Ford is not far behind. A lovely 2005 reiteration of the 1960s Mustang (replacing horrid earlier compact models) was, for 2010, followed up with a quality redraw, adding another 60s flashback, sequential red rear turn signals. Which, of course, we have to lose if we import one across the pond; it's amber-only here.

For 2011, Ford has added extra interest in the form of a superb new, fuel-efficient EcoBoost V6, attracting a lot of favourable reviewer comment, and an improved V8.

Keep 'em coming, please.