Mini John Cooper Works GP Boasts Impressive Nrburgring Time Despite Being Not Yet Fully Baked

In conjunction with the 24 Hours of Nürburgring this past weekend, Mini presented a lightly-disguised John Cooper Works GP well before its scheduled on-sale date in 2020. With more than 300 horsepower on tap, the new JCW GP is almost half a minute faster than its predecessor around the Nordschleife.

While development tuning is still in process, the JCW GP lapped the “Green Hell” in less than 8 minutes. While that is impressive for any front-wheel-drive hot hatch, it will inevitably be compared to the 7:43.80 that was set by the Civic Type R. Whether it reaches that figure or not, it shares outlandish design style and boy-racer looks with the Type R.

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BMW Being Sued Over Perceived Failure to Build Up Mini Brand

Like most brands focused on smaller vehicles, Mini is not faring particularly well in the United States and dealers have grown annoyed. Some have even decided to take BMW to court over its handling of the brand, including one owned by former Mini dealer council chair David Peterson.

The allegations? BMW of North America breached its dealership agreement by failing to effectively promote and develop the Mini brand as promised.

Deciding whether or not BMW is truly at fault should prove exceedingly difficult. But Mini is clearly struggling. Over a third of its annual volume goes to the Countryman — its only crossover model. The rest of its sales are broken up between the numerous variations of its iconic small car, which isn’t occupying the “hot segment” at present. With a not-so-diverse lineup and MSRPs better suited to larger vehicles, Mini’s annual sales have been dwindling since 2013 and failed to surpass 45,000 U.S. deliveries in 2018. Unfortunately, 2019 is already on track to be markedly worse.

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Mini Slams the Brakes on Manual Imports

Add another manual transmission availability story to the pile.

The Mini brand will cease importing models equipped with stick shifts to the U.S. in July, the automaker says, but don’t get your Mini-loving selves worked up just yet. Manuals will be back at some point in the future.

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2020 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman, Countryman Launching With 301 Horsepower

Even though Mini has issued teasers for the new batch of John Cooper Works models for months, we’ve been disinclined to take the bait. It’s not that there’s something wrong with JCW cars; there just wasn’t a lot information to be gleaned from those announcements.

We were waiting for the company to confirm the rumor that the 2020 model year would see an upgraded powerplant to serve as a bit of a game changer for the brand — which is exactly what Mini did this week.

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Rare Rides: The 1978 Innocenti Mini Is Both De Tomaso and Bertone

Rare Rides returns again to De Tomaso, shortly after it covered the obscure Guarà Barchetta. This time, the subject vehicle is a British-designed Mini, rebodied by Bertone, then sported up by De Tomaso. Quite a pedigree.

Presenting the 1978 Innocenti Mini De Tomaso:

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Mini Survey Showcases Mixed Opinions on EVs

With governments strongly encouraging the growth of electric vehicles and automakers repositioning various brands to align with that goal, it’s worth a manufacturer’s time to examine the market. Mini, which BMW Group intends to evolve into an EV-focused nameplate, plans to release its first battery powered vehicle in 2020. However, before that occurs, the brand decided to commission Engine International for a little market research.

The firm conducted a general population survey of 1,004 presumably average Americans — all above the age of 18 and split equally by gender. Unfortunately for BMW, the results were less than promising. Most people still don’t seem to have a handle on what EVs offer or how they function. However, that might not necessarily be because they are clueless morons. Apathy undoubtedly plays a role here, especially as EV ownership remains relatively rare.

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Peering Into Mini's Tentative Electrification Plan

Automakers find themselves in the midst of a widespread electrification effort. However, the slow adoption rate of these vehicles has created some trepidation. Rather than roll out fleets of EVs en masse, most manufacturers have chosen to adopt platforms allowing for multiple powertrain configurations, relegating electrics to entirely new sub-brands or transforming lesser nameplates into EV brands.

Daimler is a good example of this. Mercedes-Benz has its EQ sub-brand, while Smart was rejiggered into a nameplate entirely focused on “electro-mobility.”

BMW Group will likely take a similar route with Mini. The brand’s first fully fledged EV is fast approaching, with the company repeatedly suggesting that it might reposition itself as an electric-focused nameplate. Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member and Papa Bear to Mini, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad (motorcycles), is the man responsible for overseeing the shift, and has offered up a tentative glimpse into Mini’s future.

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2019 Mini John Cooper Works: Dodging the Regulatory Bullet

At the very start of 2018, Mini announced an update to its Cooper line. Were it not for their help, plus the marginally tacky inclusion of Union Jack taillights, we’d probably never have noticed the refresh.

Now, with 2019 bearing down on us, it’s the John Cooper Works’ turn. Predictably, the JCWs get all of the same upgrades the standard Coopers did — more interior customization, new 17-inch wheels (which are unique for Works), and the patriotic tail lamps. The biggest change is actually something you’d probably rather not see on a performance trim like the JCW, but it’s not Mini’s fault. It’s doing everything in its power to ensure it doesn’t sap power from the motor.

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Mini Refines the Clubman and Countryman for 2019

Mini plans to launch updated versions of its two most commodious models this summer. While many of the refinements are incredibly boring (like a new particulate filter that adheres to new European emission mandates), there are tastier aspects to cherry pick. For example, the Clubman and Countryman gain receive upgraded transmissions in Europe — which hopefully carries over North America, as well.

The change replaces the standard automatic with a seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission. Tragically, that unit has already made its way into the smaller Cooper hatchback and has proven excruciatingly slow in making its way across the ocean. Still, why you would buy a Mini 2-door and not option it with a contrasting roof and manual transmission is beyond us. The impractical little car’s saving grace is its fun factor and visual appeal, and you should probably lean into both if thinking of buying one.

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Don't Thank Cars for Mini's Sales Gain

In fact, you can’t thank any of Mini’s vehicles for the brand’s 3.9 percent year-to-date U.S. sales gain, as that figures comes with an asterisk.

Mini’s compact Countryman crossover gets glowing praise in Mini USA’s May sales report, and well it should. The crossover, enlarged for the 2017 model year, pulled in 1,691 sales last month. That’s slightly more than 40 percent of Mini’s total volume in the United States. The model’s sales rose more than 29 percent, year over year, but its year-to-date increase (a whopping 61.9 percent) hides an inconvenient truth. A little math reveals a troubling trend that places the brand’s future in question.

This in’t an unfamiliar place for Mini.

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Just Terrible: Mini Launches One-off Cooper Celebrating Royal Wedding

For some reason, the British royal family remains pertinent in popular culture. We’re not sure what to attribute it to, either. Maybe it all comes down to the Queen’s smile or perhaps it’s just celebrity culture run amok. Either way, “the fam” is still totally relevant in the United Kingdom, even though no royal edicts have been issued for quite some time.

The United States’ obsession with the family is even harder to come to grips with. Despite breaking off from Britain in 1776, American supermarkets still have magazines featuring royal weddings on the cover. This obsession with regality doesn’t extend to other parts of the world — a shame, considering the Saudi Prince, Sultan bin Salman, recently held a wedding that included a parade of high-end autos, with 30 ice-white Range Rovers just for the bridal party. But we suppose that’s par for the course when you’re a multi-billionaire.

Britain’s royals, while still rich, don’t have the kind of scratch necessary to field an armada of cars for a princely wedding. It’s also not their style. But Mini decided to swoop in and capitalize on the Western World’s obsession with the joining of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by delivering a car celebrating the union.

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Mini Dealers Want to Know What the Hell Is Going on With the Brand

Sales of the Mini brand have been in a downward spiral since 2013 and U.S. dealerships want to know what expect in the future. Any prospects for the nameplate to grow into a volume brand appears to have been thrown out the window by BMW Group, and it’s now looking like it could shift into electrification.

Dealers, however, don’t know this for sure, and hope to gain clarity on the matter as the domestic market dives deeper into its appreciation for trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.

“I don’t think the dealers have a very clear vision of where the car line is going long term,” explained Jason Willis, member of the Mini National Dealer Council. “There is a lot of pride on being a small-car performance company, so my guess is we will continue to be a small-car company. But as far as electric and how we fit in, we’re still waiting to hear that plan.”

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Spot the Difference: Mini Unveils Tweaked 2019 Cooper Line

Remember when TV shows used to replace a troublesome actor, only to keep the same character hanging around? Like Aunt Vivian from Fresh Prince, or Darren from Bewitched? This is not like that at all.

For its 2019 Mini Cooper lineup, the names stay the same, and so does the look. Even eagle-eyed observers will have to search high and low for design features not present on 2018 models, but trust us —they’re there. One such change is so British, it hurts.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door

The rebooted Mini brand was launched nearly 20 years ago, an alarming reminder of the relentless march of time and my own rapidly disappearing hairline. Since its introduction, when it competed for customer cash during the retro boom, the brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to plug-in hybrids and the oddly lumpy Clubman.

Far from its humble roots, it is now possible to spend north of $50,000 on a Mini in 2018. How does the base model stack up at less than half that price? Let’s find out.

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Mini Seriously Streamlines Its Badge for 2018

Mini has revealed an ultra-streamlined logo that will begin appearing on the brand’s cars by March of 2018. Abandoning the three-dimensional model as the automaker’s official mark, the new crest isn’t any more exciting but does looks a bit more contemporary.

The new emblem actually made its debut on the Mini EV Concept in late summer. At the time, it wasn’t clear what the purpose of the new logo was. For all we knew it could have been a way of differentiating electrified models from the company’s main lineup, or simply be a way to further streamline the battery-driven concept. Instead, it’s to be the replacement for the old logo and will crop up in all the automotive locales one would expect: the hood, tailgate, steering wheel, and key fob.

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  • Ajla GM didn't do this even when Corvette sales and cocaine use were at their peak.
  • Dwford How many more wealthy performance car buyers does Chevy think they can drag into their showroom full of middle of the road crossovers? I guess they will find out
  • SCE to AUX It's been done before, with varied success:Ford --> LincolnHyundai --> GenesisGM --> XLR (Cadillac), ELR (Cadillac)VW Touareg --> Porsche CayenneI suspect GM is trying to avoid the Mustang fiasco (which is working for Ford, BTW), by not making the Corvette name a sub-brand - only its hardware.(In the Mustang's case, YTD 46% of "Mustang" branded vehicles are the Mach-E, but they share no hardware. GM's plan is much different and less controversial.)Back to the sub-brand: the XLR and ELR experiments were total duds, borrowing hardware from the Corvette and Volt respectively. Both sullied Cadillac's name - not Chevy's.
  • Art Vandelay I don’t care what they do with the brand. But I do want to see how a mid engined platform spawns a 4 door and a crossover
  • Varezhka If they’re going to do this, might as well go all the way and make it a standalone brand instead of a Chevy sub-brand. They already have a unique emblem, after all. Shouldn’t there be enough empty former Hummer, Saab, or Cadillac dealer showrooms to house them?