Top Gear drives the Dakar-winning Mini
Before it conquered South America, we took the 311bhp X-Raid Mini Countryman for a shakedown
Posted: 26 Feb 2014
I feel at ease after a mile, humming along at 60mph, all noise distant through the helmet and intercom. A rasp of static, and Filipe tells me to turn right into the desert by a masted van they reckon is here to jam phone signals. "This'll be like Baja," I tell myself. "Just relax, let the car find its own path, be smooth and gentle, let it do the work."
I was wrong. The Dakar Mini doesn't ride with the lazy stretch of a Baja buggy; it feels jittery and sharp. We hit a bare rocky section, uneven and sand scoured, and suddenly I know why there's a big pad in the middle of the steering wheel - my neck surely won't stretch... turns out it does. We're being thrown around like watermelons in a cement mixer.