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First Drive: 2013 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works

Mini to turn JCW into new performance sub-brand.

by on Dec.27, 2011

Faster than a speeding skier...the new 2013 Mini Countryman S John Cooper Works.

You’re likely to be halfway down the slopes by the time you can pronounce the full name of Mini’s newest – and fastest – crossover model, the Mini Countryman John Cooper Works.  Take our word for it, as we had our first chance to check out the Countryman JCW during a snow-covered preview in the Tyrolean Alps.

One of the semi-finalists for North American Truck of the Year, the Mini Countryman has generated more than its share of controversy since its 2010 debut.  No surprise: it’s not only the biggest offering ever from Mini and the first to fall into that gray space between car and truck, but it also was the first to offer all-wheel-drive – and four doors.

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But buyers seem to be dismissing the debate and focusing on the Countryman’s blend of functionality and fun-to-drive dynamics– making it the brand’s new best-seller.  So, we wondered as we packed up our ski gear, what would happen when you pack in some more punch?

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First Drive: 2012 Mini Coupe

Mini introduces its fastest model ever.

by on Sep.27, 2011

The 2-seat Mini Cooper John Cooper Works edition is the brand's fastest car ever.

Small is big, or so it seems, these days, with all manner of new products, small, smaller and smallest coming to market as buyers put a premium on fuel efficiency.  But no brand has done more to change the perception of what a small car can be than Mini, the British marque showing that downsized automobiles can be much, much more than just econoboxes.

And now, just short of a decade after the 2002 launch of the reborn Mini nameplate, the British marque is getting ready to roll out an assortment of new offerings that will bring to seven its model line-up.  We had the chance to spend a couple days in Nashville, this month, with the first of the next-gen products, the 2012 Mini Coupe.

The good news is that these latest offerings are not just more of the same.  True, many of them are modern takes on models Mini originally offered decades ago.  But there’s no confusing the Mini Cooper with the Countryman crossover or even the new Coupe, which Mini’s U.S. chief Jim McDowell suggests is “not like any Mini you’ve ever before.”

Drive on in!

Our trip through Nashville and into the surrounding countryside suggests he’s right, wherever we headed, passersby stopping to stare at the first Mini to adopt what designers like to call a “three-box” design.  Nor will you confuse the 2012 Mini Coupe with a classic sedan.  Then there’s the steeply raked windshield, angled another 13 degrees compared to the standard-issue Mini.  But perhaps the most distinctive feature is the new 2-seater’s “helmet roof,” which adds to the Coupe aggressive stance.

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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.

The Inside Story!

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.

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First Drive: 2012 Mini Coupe

The small car brand gets bigger.

by on Jun.13, 2011

TheDetroitBureau.com 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.

Insight!

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.

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Is the Paceman a Real Mini?

A view from a European’s eye.

by on Jan.12, 2011

The Mini Paceman concept vehicle.

“Mini will always remain Mini,” or so says Marcus Syring, the British brand’s new chief of design.

It may seem trite, at first, but it is a question that is being asked a fair bit, lately, as Mini steadily expands its line-up.  What was originally little more than a few subtle variants – like the Cooper S – off a single model will soon grow to at least seven with the addition of such nameplates as the Countryman.

That offering stretched the boundaries in a variety of ways.  It was the BMW subsidiary’s first 4-door, for example; its first SUV/crossover; and the first with all-wheel-drive.

Now comes the Paceman concept, which starts with the same basic platform as Countryman.  Officially just a show car, senior Mini officials don’t disguise the fact that it will soon reappear in production trim – albeit with a different name.

Making sure the resultant product fits the strict visual definition of a Mini is the challenge for Syring, who handled the exterior design together with his predecessor Gert Hildebrand and Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group’s head of design.

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First Look: Mini Paceman

Setting the pace for further growth.

by on Dec.22, 2010

Tne Mini Paceman Concept will make its debut at the Detroit Auto Show, next month.

Few automakers have maintained a more aggressive pace, in recent years, than Mini, which has been rapidly rolling out an assortment of new products, such as the new Countryman crossover.  Now, it seems, that pace will quicken still more with the British marque planning another global preview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, next month.

January 10th will bring the world premiere of the Paceman Concept, a model that Mini dubs a Sports Activity Vehicle, in keeping with parent BMW, which uses the SAV designation for its own X-models, such as the X5 and X6 crossovers.

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The Mini Paceman is based on the same four-wheel drive platform used by the Countryman and differs only slightly in terms of in length and shares the same width as the four-door Countryman.  But there’s plenty to distinguish the Paceman visually.

The new concept boasts a strikingly dynamic design with short overhangs and a fluid, very sporty feel.  The typical Mini features are still there, such as the large headlamps with chrome rings that extend into the fenders. But the low-mounted fog lamps and large under-bumper openings allow more air to reach the brakes and add to the sporty stance.

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