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The Dozen Biggest Debuts Coming from Tokyo Motor Show

From a phone booth on wheels to an assortment of battery vehicles.

by on Oct.27, 2015

Mazda offers a tease of the sports car it will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show this week.

The biennial Tokyo Motor Show has a history of introducing some wild, weird and wacky vehicles, and this year will be no exception. Honda, for one, will be introducing its Wander Walker, a concept vehicle that bears an uncanny resemblance to a phone booth on wheels.

But don’t let the crazy concepts fool you. There’s a serious side to the Tokyo Motor Show, as well, and this year’s event will bring out an assortment of luxury sedans, sports cars and alternative-fuel vehicles that will have a big impact on the global industry in the years to come.

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While foreign makers will have a minimal presence at the 2015 show, Japanese makers such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda will more than offset that absence. Here are a dozen of the most important debuts to come in Tokyo this week:


Mini Uncovers New Convertible

Bigger is better?

by on Oct.22, 2015

The new Mini Convertible grows by more than four inches and gains plenty of interior space.

The Mini makeover, it seems, is in full swing, and the latest addition to the British maker’s line-up comes with a makeover of the Mini Convertible.

As with other recent remakes, the 2017 Mini Convertible grows a little larger than the outgoing ragtop, with a bit more emphasis on practicality this time around. But the fun factor isn’t being played down, and like the new Mini Hardtop launched last year, the Convertible now shares its underlying architecture, as well as its powertrain options, with Mini’s sibling BMW brand.

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“The new MINI Convertible has a great balance of playful personalization and sophistication. It’s open-top driving without compromise,” says David Duncan, vice president MINI of the Americas, adding that, “The front wheel drive BMW architecture and engines make it fun-to-drive and practical in any driving conditions.”


Mini Gets Green Light for Superleggera

Two-seat convertible coming in 2018

by on Mar.17, 2015

Mini chief Peter Schwarzenbauer at the L.A. Auto Show debut of the CitySurfer and Superleggera concepts.

Mini’s latest edition to the line-up, the Hardtop four-door, helped generate an 38.9% increase in sales for the first two months of 2015; however, they expect the next addition will also add a big spark to the brand: the Superleggera Vision is coming.

The two-seat convertible concept has been kicking around the auto show circuit for nearly two years now with officials kicking the can down the road each time they’ve been asked about it.

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It was shown in the U.S. at both the Los Angeles and Detroit auto shows in January; however, it’s unknown if the new convertible will even find its way to the U.S. However, it would seem for it to make sense, in terms of production numbers, the U.S. market would be necessary where it could provide some competition for the Mazda Miata M5. (more…)

First Look: Mini Coupe

Maker officially adds 2-seater to growing line-up.

by on Sep.14, 2011

Mini adds a new Coupe to its growing line-up, the John Cooper Works shown here.

It may build some of the smallest cars on the market but Mini is one very fast-growing brand, the British maker bringing to the Frankfurt Motor Show its new 2-seat Mini Coupe.

The 2-seat fastback is promised to be the sportiest model to bear the Mini badge, officials said during a Frankfurt preview.  Four different variants will be offered, including the basic Mini Cooper, the Cooper S, a diesel-powered Cooper SD and the top-performing John Cooper Works.

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The JCW Coupe will come equipped with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine capable of making 208 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque in overboost, enough to launch it from 0 to 60 in just 6.3 seconds, with a top speed of 149 mph.


First Drive: 2012 Mini Coupe

The small car brand gets bigger.

by on Jun.13, 2011 gets a first drive of the new Mini Coupe, which is set for a world debut at Frankfurt.

Many folks seem to recall the original Mini as a single, pint-sized offering though there was, in fact, an assortment of sizes and shapes marketed by the British brand over the years.

And so, from the rebirth of Mini in 2001, it was obvious that the brand would come up with more models than just the Hatchback – as the British marque, now under the command of Germany’s BMW, is rapidly proving. This year, Mini is adding the Coupe, the fifth model to the range, to a rapidly swelling line-up that already includes the Clubman, Convertible and Countryman. Next year, the Roadster will be number six.


We got our first sneak peek at the Coupe prototype at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The strongly positive feedback convinced Mini to not just put the new 2-door into production but bring it to market in time for the next Frankfurt show – where it will make its official world debut this autumn.

But we were able to snag some seat time months before that formal introduction.


Mini May Add as Many as Three New Models for ’11

R60 CUV a definite, but Coupe and Roadster may follow.

by on Dec.09, 2009

Could Mini launch production of the Coupe and Roadster concept vehicles next year? A CUV is definitely in the pipeline.

Could Mini launch production of the Coupe and Roadster concept vehicles next year? A CUV is definitely in the pipeline.

Tucked into the far corner of the L.A. Auto Show sit two Mini concept cars that have been generating some serious buzz.  Now, sources say, the Mini Roadster and Mini Coupe could find their way into production in the very near future.

As’s Henny Hemmes reported, last week, from Staples Center, in downtown Los Angeles, the two show cars have a decidedly more aggressive look than current Mini products, starting with their steeply raked windshields.  (Click Here for the complete story.)

Your Breaking News Source!

Your Breaking News Source!

Up to the A-pillars, the Roadster is similar to that of the current Mini Convertible. The windshield, though, is 60 mm lower and raked at a sharper angle, providing the look of a ‘baseball cap’, said Ian Robertson, Mini’s sales and marketing chief.


Mini Concepts Talk it Up in L.A.

50the anniversary year for Mini with talking Camden, Roadster and Coupe.

by on Dec.03, 2009

Mini staged several North American debuts, including this sporty Coupe concept, and the roadster to the rear.

Mini staged several North American debuts, including this sporty Coupe concept, and the roadster to the rear.

Even if it is no Centennial, turning 50 is a milestone for a car brand – and reason to celebrate, which Mini did in style over the summer, at Britain’s Silverstone race track, with the introduction of two new models, the Mini 50 Mayfair and the Mini 50 Camden.

Both downsized offering are making their North American premiers at the 2009 L.A. Auto Show.

Big News...Small Package!

Big News...Small Package!

If the names sound familiar, that’s because they honor two well-known London neighborhoods.  In car language it means that the Mayfair is comfortable and sophisticated and the Camden looks into the future.


Sneak Peek: 2010 Mini John Cooper Works Convertible

More power, more fun, more from Geneva.

by on Mar.02, 2009

Mini John Cooper Works Convertible.

Mini John Cooper Works Convertible.

The BMW Group has won over a legion of fans with the Mini brand. The Mini Challenge racing series is a growing success and with the John Cooper Works models, Mini addicts are discovering cars that deliver near track levels of performance.

So, it’s fitting that following up on the launch of the Mini Convertible, which we drove just last month, Mini brings to the 2009 Geneva Motor Show a topless version of the John Cooper Works, the fast-growing brand’s third sporty model, after the original JCW and the Mini JCW Clubman.

The numbers are impressive, though we expect to see some JCW buyers trying to prove the factory conservative in its published 0 to 60 times of 6.7 seconds. The big speedo in the center of the dash is certainly going to encourage experimentation, with its 146 mph top speed. (more…)

The Ad Sky Limitless for Mini Open

From billboards to the Mini Open-ometer.

by on Feb.17, 2009

2010 Mini Open makes smashing Detroit debut

2010 Mini Open makes "smashing" Detroit debut.

Mini dealers around the country will be open for open business in a few weeks with the new 2009 Mini convertible. The iconic Brit Brand, now a part of Germany’s BMW Group, has, in a few short years, arguably become the most unique brand in the world.

This reputation, in part, has been due to the inimitable, quirky, idiosyncratic and different approach to its advertising. Like all good advertising, should, but seldom does, it starts with the product. Mini’s ad pro-grams have faithfully followed this axiom and continue it unabated, even with a change in ad agencies a few years ago.

From the get-go nothing has been sacrosanct, even the most sacred cows of advertising. A comprehensive retrospective of some outstanding elements of Mini’s quirky and odd, but effective advertising is on the web.

It’s important to note, I’ve been a fan of Mini’s advertising since day one. Happily, the new convertible is no exception, in fact it adds to the Mini’s distinctive image of individuality and personality.

The hype began at the Detroit Show when the new Mini convertible was driven through faux ice to startle the assembled auto journalists.


First Drive: Mini Convertible

Always Open

by on Jan.30, 2009

Mini Convertible - dashing through the snow

Mini Convertible - dashing through the snow

You think it’s cold back in the U.S.? Try Kärnten, one of the most beautiful parts of the south of Austria. And at this altitude, this time of year, well, you’d think we might have enough common sense to keep the top closed on the new Mini Convertible. Think again. We just couldn’t imagine being the only ones driving back, at the end of the day and have to admit we didn’t get a good whiff of fresh mountain air.

But, to be honest, there’s something about the new Mini cabriolet that would have made us pull the top down, even if no one else was around; maybe that’s why the marketing gurus have hit the right note with their new slogan, Always Open.

Since the introduction of the new Mini, in 2002, some 164,000 convertibles have been sold and the new models are likely to match that success considering some of the new features the British automaker has added. Like the ability to open the soft top in just 15 seconds – and operate it even while driving at up to 20 mph. Another plus is that with the top neatly folded behind the rear seats, there’s now 4.4 cubic feet of cargo space, 0.17 cf more than before.

(With the top up, the luggage space increases to 6 cubic feet, while with the seats folded the Mini Convertible has 23.3 cf of luggage space. To keep burglars out, the split and foldable back rests of the rear seats can be locked with the car’s key.)