When my colleague and I received the news that we were invited on the BMW Mini factory tour, we were both very excited and had high hopes for the day - We we're not disappointed!
The day started with us driving down to Farnborough to pick up our Mini Cooper for the day, which was to be our brilliant mode of transport to get to and from the Factory in Oxford.
Firstly a note about the Mini Cooper. It really was fantastic! Very nippy, and certainly a very capable vehicle. We were in the Mini Hatchback Cooper D 1.6 Petrol and it was fast, comfortable and the leather seats were amazing! You didn't even feel like you were sitting in seats at all, which made for an extremely comfortable ride.
The dials, buttons and dash were set up in such a way that you felt like you were in a very quirky and unique vehicle and this added a bit of fun to the journey too. The fuel efficiency was very good and again the overall ride of the car was nice.
Once at the BMW Factory the first thing you notice is how many vehicles there are in the car park. With over 4000 staff working there (in total, not at the same time) there was always going to be a few cars around. We were put into Mini jackets and any metal was covered up for the protection of the cars as each car produced is a sold vehicle.
We had a brilliant one hour tour where we got to see how the Mini's are built, the process they all undertake and got a better understanding at the quality and high standards that BMW have from the get go. Each station has a dedicated team and each team work 11 hour days 3 days a week. The robots were fascinating to watch (we got to see them put a windscreen in) and are extremely efficient. It was nice to see that there are both robots and people working on the vehicles, rather than a factory full of robots.
The whole overall experience was great and very inspiring. We even got to get a sneak peak and the fabled Mini 'F-Type', which they were not allowed to discuss at all. What we could gleam from this is that they look pretty similar to a 5 door Mini Cooper but a bit lower and stretched out a bit if I am not mistaken.
All in all a fantastic day out and a great way for us to understand exactly how the BMW Mini is made. Highly recommendable.