Tag: MINI

By on July 12, 2017

2017 Mini Countryman S, Image: Myle Rockens/Appearance

If you’ve come here to read a Mini Cooper S review, I suggest you look elsewhere. What we have here is a vehicle that has very little to do with the small, lightweight and simplistic design of Sir Alec Issigonis’ original Morris Mini concept.

This is nothing more than a disguised BMW X1.

But if you’re currently in the market for a subcompact luxury crossover that blends style with practicality, all while remaining somewhat fun to drive, then the 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman should serve you well.

Notwithstanding the model’s status as a travesty of platform sharing, this vehicle isn’t all that bad to drive. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

Renault 5, public domain

The late Janet Reno once described herself thusly: “The fact is I’m just an awkward old maid with a very great affection for men.” Similarly, I think of myself as a liberal-arts type with a very great affection for engineering. I’ve designed a few bicycles in my time, and I’ve earned most of my bread by programming in various languages, but I’m not qualified to draw a bridge, create a capacitor, or invent an engine. Those are special and particular disciplines that attract special and particular people. I ain’t one of them.

Nevertheless, even as an outsider it seems plain to me that there are two kinds of automotive engineering: the inventive kind, as practiced by Henry Ford and Colin Chapman, and the iterative kind as practiced by the vast majority of engineers currently working in the business. When Jim Hall put a wing on the Chaparral, he was doing inventive engineering; when the Mercedes F1 team runs through ten thousand CFD calculation sequences to remove crosswind drag by 0.5 percent, that’s iterative engineering.

Inventive engineering gets the headlines, but iterative engineering pays the bills. Which leads me to today’s question, which asks? Can’t we be inventive when it comes to front-wheel drive?

(Read More…)

By on June 1, 2017

2017 Mini Countryman, Image: MiniIn Oliver Heilmer, BMW Group’s Mini brand will finally have a design chief after being rudderless for much of the last year.

Anders Warming, Heilmer’s predecessor, resigned the post last summer. The 42-year-old Heilmer, who makes his way up the corporate ladder from BMW Designworks in California, won’t actually undertake his new role until September.

“With his design expertise and experience, Oliver Heilmer combines continuity with the freshness and vision Mini stands for,” Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, said in BMW’s official statement. In other words, Heilmer is both an insider, as part of BMW Group Design for 17 years, but also an outsider, as the BMW Designworks boss who previously held a post in interior design at the BMW brand.

Regardless, Heilmer has his work cut out for him. In the hugely important U.S. market, Mini sales in 2016 fell to a six-year low, and sales are declining further in 2017. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2017

2016 Mini Clubman

It’s a brand most of us never think about. We never consider buying one, nor do we rush to our laptops/tablets/phones to excitedly discuss the latest update to the brand’s lineup. Simply put, there’s something about the brand that’s lacking.

Maybe it’s horsepower, or lack thereof. Or maybe it’s reliability. Whatever the reason, Mini is not — with some exceptions — at the forefront of our collective consciousness.

It’s a brand that tries hard to remain relevant, especially over here in Crossoverland. Hey, four doors on a Cooper! Look — a longer Clubman! Excuse me, sir, can we interest you in a considerably larger Countryman? Nothing Mini about it, har har…

And yet, for all of its attempts to stay in the buying public’s eye — culling unpopular models like the Paceman and “right-sizing” its current products — Mini’s U.S. sales are still heading in the wrong direction after reaching a 2013 peak. That year saw the brand unload 66,502 units, a clear high-water mark. Last year? 52,030. The first four months of 2017 shows sales slipping behind last year’s tally.

The brand needs to do something to slow the descent, but — as we learned yesterday — it won’t field any new models for a number of years. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 front – Image: Mini USA

Forget all about a Mini sedan, roadster, or even an extra-small two-seat hatchback. The British automaker isn’t having any of it.

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, Mini has no immediate plans to diversify its current lineup, preferring to wait until the next-generation Mini rolls along before going nuts (if indeed it ever does). In the meantime, are you interested in a crossover or near-crossover? (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4 - Image: Mini USA

It’s can be difficult to wipe the smug look of a home field advantage off your face.

Yet in its home English market, the all-new second-generation 2017 Mini Countryman is failing to find favor with British car critics. evo Magazine, never one to pull its punches, published a review of the 2017 Mini Countryman chock full of significant objections.

“Mini’s new SUV has grown up, but it’s lost the Mini fun factor along the way,” Antony Ingram writes. evo says it expects “the BMW-owned company to turn out cars that are fun to drive and show up their rivals as sloppy, dull and character-free.” Yet, Ingram says, “the latest Mini Countryman doesn’t manage that.”

Citing poor value, disappointing acceleration in the hi-po S model, un-Mini-like dynamics, a cabin too twee, and a design that continues “to look ever more contrived,” evo suggests you may prefer — get this — a Toyota C-HR. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2017

2018 Toyota C-HR, Image: Toyota

Today’s marketplace is a crowded affair. Each manufacturer seems to sit down at the table every new model year with more. More variants, more things with all-wheel drive, more CUVs, and more vehicles which split the pieces of the sales pie down to ever smaller fragments. This fragmentation leads to the eye splinter above, whatever the hell Toyota thinks it is, which will clog up parking lots everywhere starting next year.

To cure this portion issue, I think some models need to die, and I want you to help me choose which ones.

(Read More…)

By on January 18, 2017

Mini Cooper Countryman John Cooper Works

Mini’s largest model is about to get the most powerful engine currently available to the brand from its parent company, BMW. The company will offer up its 2018 Countryman as the latest John Cooper Works model, adorned with polarizing paint jobs and a powerful 2.0-liter turbo.

While the idea of a performance crossover might seem like an oxymoron, as well as being a bit impractical — especially considering Mini already makes a quicker and more nimble JCW Cooper with the same engine — there’s a precedent of the concept working(Read More…)

By on December 14, 2016

2017 MINI Cooper Hardtop

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — just might be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

When the new Mini was introduced way back in 2000, some saw it as a means to cash in on the burgeoning niche of retro-themed cars, then populated by the New Beetle, PT Cruiser, and — erm — Ford Thunderbird. Oh dear.

Since then, the Mini brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to the jacked-up Countryman. It’s shockingly easy to spend upwards of $40,000 on a Mini today, but how does one stack up as a base model at half that price?

Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on October 17, 2016

MINI Hybrid Countryman

Mini has revealed what form its new hybrid will take.

That, the e-tron name lives on in Audi’s first dedicated electric SUV, Unifor squares off with Ford, and hype man Elon Musk reschedules his alleged big announcement … after the break! (Read More…)

By on October 13, 2016

2015 Mini Countryman green

Mini continues to inflate the size of its vehicles, and the redesigned Countryman is expected to be the biggest yet.

The company’s global head, Sebastian Mackensen, tells Automotive News Europe that the new vehicle will grow in the same way as the second-generation Clubman. He also claims the next Countryman will be more SUV-like, and for a very specific reason. (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2016

2015 Mini 4-door and 2-door

An electric Mini? There’s a weak Austin Powers joke in there somewhere, maybe, but that movie (alarmingly) came out 19 years ago.

After teasing the possibility earlier this year, BMW CEO Harald Krüger confirmed an all-electric Mini will arrive in 2019, Bloomberg reports. Krüger claims a Mini EV, as well as an electric version of the compact X3 crossover, is needed to keep up with the company’s German rivals. (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2016

MINI JCW Clubman

Having been a player in the small car category since its 2001 reboot, Mini now seeks to take on the burgeoning premium sporty compact segment with this, the new John Cooper Works Clubman.

With sales of the Mini brand reaching only nine-tenths of its 2013 high in the U.S. last year, will this model bait new customers into the brand’s retina-searing showrooms?

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2016

Red_Devils-Union_Jack (Wikimedia Commons)

The United Kingdom, through referendum, has decided to break off from Europe and go it alone. But what of all the auto manufacturers that produce vehicles in the island nation? And of their employees? And trade?

We won’t know the answers to those questions until the UK and European governments sort out how the two entities will work together in the future. For now, it’s business as usual. Though, thanks to Autocar, we at least have reactions from the big players in the UK’s automotive industry.

(Read More…)

By on June 24, 2016

2017 Jaguar lineup

The UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is tasked with, according to the SMMT, promoting “the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad.”

Prior to the June 23 Brexit vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the SMMT insisted that voting “remain” was critical to the UK automotive industry. Brexit could jeopardise jobs, automakers were in agreement that remaining was important, and pointed to the UK’s 800,000 auto industry jobs and its £15.5 billion contribution to the economy as reasons to stay in the European Union.

(Read More…)

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