By on April 13, 2016

2016 Mini Clubman

Executives at Mini are busy mulling what to introduce next, and it’s increasingly looking like that model will have a trunk.

Unlike a car modeled after a young man wearing a backward ballcap, a sedan is a logical addition to the brand’s future lineup, and comments made to Autocar by Ralph Mahler, vice-president of product development, make it clear there’s a serious business case for a three-box Mini.

(Read More…)

By on February 8, 2016

2016 BMW X1 Exterior-008

When is a BMW not a BMW? Some would say: when it has four wheels. Others will say: when it’s front wheel drive. But here we are. BMW’s smallest crossover has ditched its BMW 3-Series roots for underpinnings shared with the Mini Countryman.

Say what?

Americans may be surprised to hear that the X1 is not BMW’s first front driver. Neither is it the last BMW with a transverse engine. Our European friends will soon be seeing the 2 Series Gran Tourer — a small 7-seat … minivan. Yes, a BMW minivan. What’s that sound, you ask? Minds blowing.

For purists, the notion of a trio of transverse-engined BMWs prowling around the countryside is an abomination; an affront to everything E46 M3 owners holds sacred.

For the rest of you? It’s no big deal. Seriously.

(Read More…)

By on August 26, 2015

Mini Countryman sales chart TTAC 3A rising tide lifts all boats?

Not in the Mini Countryman’s case.

One of the oldest models on the block, the Countryman, is suffering from a sharp decline in U.S. sales even as consumers develop greater interest in subcompact crossovers. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2014

subcompact SUV sales chart October 2014The Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, Jeep Renegade, and Mazda CX-3 are coming. The Buick Encore, a pair of taller Minis, and the Nissan Juke are already here.

It’s a burgeoning segment, silly in the eyes of many, but useful for automakers who want to cash in on consumers’ desire for fuel efficiency and slightly higher driving positions, consumers who are forever interested in a little wheelarch cladding.

However, these vehicles don’t even combine to sell as often as the Honda CR-V, America’s top-selling SUV/crossover. That’s not to say they won’t. Nor are we suggesting that buyers of these vehicles would consider something as mainstream as a CR-V, Escape, or RAV4, America’s top-selling utilities.

(Read More…)

By on April 1, 2013

Buick’s been on a roll this year, their sales are up and their owner demographics are younger than they have been in recent memory. The cynic in my says that’s because half their clientele died of old age, but it has more to do with their product portfolio. Say what? Yep, it’s true, the brand I wrote off for dead last decade is targeting younger buyers with designs imported from Europe and finding sales success. The Verano turbo shattered my preconceptions, but can Buick do it again? A brown Encore arrived one rainy morning to see if it was possible. (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2012

The long rumored move to build MINI vehicles at Mitsubishi’s Dutch plant has finally come to pass. Starting in the second half of 2014, MINI vehicles will be built at the former home of the Mitsubishi Charisma and Volvo S40.

(Read More…)

By on October 10, 2012

Utility vehicles with seating for four don’t do much to endear themselves with buyers who may actually carry people as well as cargo.

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By on September 21, 2012

Yes, dear readers, I am happy to announce the Ed Niedermeyer has returned to automotive journalism. Sort of. And not for TTAC. Ed’s essay on the Subaru Outback and the Mini Countryman is perfectly timed for reading over your Friday lunch. Check it out over at Curbside Classic and curse our fearless Editor Emeritus for installing a snot-nosed neophyte like myself into such a hallowed vocation.

 

By on September 7, 2012

Nowadays, the only way to make cars profitably is to take advantage of economies of scale; and nobody is better at maximizing the “one sausage, many lengths” method of automobile production than Mini. Forget talk of “brand values” and “heritage” – we’re in a different era now.

(Read More…)

By on August 11, 2012

MINI is the most unlikely successful new brand in America. Why? Because the brand’s “tiny transportation” ethos is at odds with America’s “bigger is better” mantra. Of course, these contradictory philosophies explain why the modern MINI is nowhere near as mini as Minis used to be. Still with me? Hang on to your hats because the German owners of the iconic British brand have decided American domination hinges on making the biggest MINI yet. Enter the MINI Countryman. Or as I like to call it, the MINI Maxi.

(Read More…)

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