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All But One of a Dozen Small Cars Fall Short in Crash Test

Mini Countryman nabs a “good” rating from IIHS.

by on Jul.30, 2014

The 2014 Mini Countryman was the only vehicle to earn a "good" rating in the latest IIHS small car crash tests.

For those worried about the safety of today’s small cars, the latest round of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety didn’t provide much good news.

Out of an even dozen vehicles included in the test, only the Mini Countryman earned a “good” rating. And among the plug-based vehicles included in the tests for the first time, only the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid managed to eke out an “acceptable” rating – while also earning a Top Safety Pick+ award.

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“The Mini Cooper Countryman gave a solid performance,” says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research. “The Countryman’s safety cage held up reasonably well. The safety belts and airbags worked together to control the test dummy’s movement, and injury measures indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash this severe.”


Mini Adds New 4-Door to Line-Up

More doors, more room.

by on Jun.05, 2014

The new Mini Hardtop gets a bit longer to handle the two extra doors - and a usable back seat."

It may be Mini, but the British maker’s line-up is about to get a bit bigger with the addition of the first-ever four-door version of its Hardtop model.

Confirming long-standing rumors, Mini said the new model will roll into U.S. showrooms later this year, the latest in a fast-growing line-up of niche products. Considering the success of the larger, 4-door Countryman model, it’s clear that the British maker is betting there’s a solid market for those who want a little more convenience and flexibility than the traditional 2-door Hardtop offers.

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Both models will share the same underlying platform which recently went through a complete redesign – but the 4-door will gain even more length to accommodate the extra doors, and to provide a usable rear seat.


Mini Offers Sneak Peek at Clubman Concept

When is a Mini not so mini?

by on Feb.26, 2014

The Mini Clubman Concept grows 10 inches longer.

Mini isn’t wasting time rolling out new variants based on the all-new platform developed for its third-generation Hardtop.  Showgoers will get an idea of what it has in mind when the British maker pulls the cover off the new Mini Clubman Concept at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

Expected to give a good indication of what to expect when the next-generation Clubman goes into production, the Concept is longer, wider and a good bit more up-market in appearance than the current five door – six, if you count the split barn doors at the rear as two.

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“The Mini Clubman Concept shows how the Mini Clubman could be taken a step further: more interior space, a greater sense of high-end quality and yet still clever, bold and distinctive. In short: more car, more Mini,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design, explaining the approach to this model.


Mini Scrambling for Capacity

Maker has high hopes for all-new Hatchback.

by on Feb.19, 2014

The new Mini Hardtop may be a little larger but it will be a getting a smaller 3-cylinder engine.

While over-capacity has been a crippling problem for many European automakers, a few are facing quite the opposite issue, largely due to strong export sales. Mini is one of the makers struggling to expand capacity as its growing line-up triggers a sharp growth in demand.

With an all-new version of its original Hardtop model coming to market, the minicar unit of BMW AG is set to add a new plant in the Netherlands, with a major share of its production capacity earmarked for export once it begins production this coming summer.

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But rather than building a plant of its own, British-based Mini will use a contract supplier in the Netherlands, VDL Nedcar, which will add 1,500 workers at its factory in Born. Production will supplement the output from the existing Mini factory in Oxford, England.


Mini to Reveal New John Cooper Works Concept in Detroit

“Technology lifted straight from the race track.”

by on Dec.17, 2013

Mini apparently has some big plans for the next-gen John Cooper Works hatchback.

Mini’s newest hot hatch will be putting in its debut appearance at the Detroit Auto Show next month – or at least a “concept” version of the next-generation John Cooper Works model based on the British marque’s all-new platform.

Sadly, Mini is holding back on much of what we’d most like to know about the new model.  Beyond reference to its “go-kart feeling,” and “technology lifted straight from the race track,” the BMW subsidiary’s press release holds back powertrain details.

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What we do learn – backed up by these images – is that the Mini JCW Concept adopts a Bright Highways Grey exterior accented with bright Chili Red details that include racing stripes and a contrasting red and white roof.  There are 18-inch alloy wheels, large air intakes replacing the standard hatchback’s fog lamps and LED headlamps.


3-Cylinders? Mini’s Just the Latest with Downsized Engine

A replacement for displacement?

by on Nov.22, 2013

The new Mini Hardtop may be a little larger but it will be a getting a smaller 3-cylinder engine.

Mini rolled into the L.A. Auto Show this week with an all-new version of its popular Hardtop model, but equally big news was the debut of two all-new engines.

And while the new Mini is getting a little more maxi – its overall length stretched by 4.5 inches – the third-generation Hardtop will now be offered with an engine smaller than ever, a new 1.5-liter three-cylinder package.

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There’s an old adage in the auto industry that, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” but while the big V-8 may remain the icon of American muscle, the reality is that motorists have been rapidly downsizing their engine choices in recent years.  Sixes have replaced eights; and now, it seems, a growing number of three-cylinder powertrains are coming to market to replace inline-fours.


Mini Reveals New Hardtop Ahead of LA Debut

A little larger, a little lighter.

by on Nov.18, 2013

Coming at you...the newly redesigned Mini Hardtop.

Like baseball, it might help  to have a scorecard to keep up with Mini, the British carmaker rapidly expanding its line-up in recent years and hinting it could soon offer a whopping 10 to 12 different models in the not-too-distant future.

But in one sense, Mini is about to go back to basics, and the Los Angeles Auto Show will this week see the roll-out of an all-new update of the brand’s flagship product line, the Mini Hardtop. Based on a new platform developed in cooperation with German parent BMW, the next-generation Hardtop won’t deliver many visual surprises but will bring to market some new engines and advanced connectivity and other high-tech systems, Mini promises.

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While the new platform is a significant update, the approach to exterior design has been much more evolutionary which, Mini suggests, “signals the more mature character of the new model, reflected in a significant optimization of such aspects as space, safety, fittings, materials and finish quality as well as sportiness and ride comfort.”


BMW Group Sets Sales Record for Third Quarter

Sales for first nine months also reach new highs.

by on Nov.06, 2013

The BMW Group reported record sales for the third quarter despite challenging times in Europe.

The BMW Group income increased 3.2% during the third quarter as its unit sales jumped more than 10% despite the challenging and volatile business conditions, prevailing across Europe.

“Reported figures for both the third quarter and the nine-month period have developed positively despite the higher level of expenditure on new technologies and a challenging market environment in Europe. We have recorded best-ever worldwide sales volume figures to date and remain within our targeted margin range for the Automotive segment,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.

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Based on its strong performance in the first nine months of the year, the BMW Group also reaffirmed its outlook for the current year, Reithofer said. (more…)

Mini Has Big Plans for New Small-Car Platform

British marque may soon offer as many as 10 different models.

by on Oct.14, 2013

The next Mini hatchback will debut in LA -- the Vision Concept shown here giving a hint of what's to come.

You can be small and still think big.  Just ask Mini, the British subsidiary of BMW that has, in barely a dozen years since its global re-launch gone from a small niche player with a minimal line-up of microcars to a fast-growing brand with a rapidly expanding product mix.

And the line-up will soon grow by as much as 50%, according to the BMW board member who oversees the Mini brand, it seems. The key is the upcoming launch of an all-new Mini hatchback based on a flexible front-drive platform developed in cooperation with the marque Bavarian parent.  In fact, this new “architecture” will soon give BMW a replacement for its 1-Series, the German maker’s first front-wheel-drive offering.

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The modern-day incarnation of Mini initially debuted with just the familiar hatchback model, but after generating enough sales to take even its most optimistic executives by surprise, a variety of alternatives began pouring into dealer showrooms, including the four-seat convertible, the Mini Open, a roadster, the five-door Countryman crossover and, all told, a total of seven different models now vying for space in the maker’s showrooms.

But get ready for Mini generation three, which will debut at the upcoming LA Auto Show. “With the new ULK architecture, we currently have in mind eight to 10 models,” BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer tells Automotive News Europe.


Mini Vision Concept Offers Hint of Next Hatchback

Big changes in a little car.

by on Jul.26, 2013

The Mini Vision concept adopts a "futur-focused aesthetic," suggests the brand's chief designer.

Wondering what the next-generation Mini might look like? The British maker is offering a glimpse of what’s to come with the new Mini Vision concept.

The retro-futuristic prototype was unveiled by Anders Warming, head of Mini Design, at the Mini Design@Home event  in Munich. And it brings together a mix of forward-looking styling cues as well as details we’ve seen from such recent models as the Countryman’s canted roof and oversized taillamps, as well as new, more sculpted door panels.

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Some of the details, such as the familiar Mini hexagonal grille and inset bumpers have been captured in recent months by spy photographs of what is expected to be the replacement for the next-generation Mini hatchback due to reach market in 2014.

During his presentation, Warming described the Vision concept as a “future-focused aesthethic,” pointing to such updates of familiar details as the elliptical front headlights which, on the Vision concept migrate to LED lamps and adopt outer rings that remain constantly lit to serve as daytime running lamps.