By on May 24, 2019

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. (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2018

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.  (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2018

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. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2018

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.  (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2018

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.” (Read More…)

By on February 23, 2018

mini electric concept

BMW Group has signed with Great Wall Motors to produce Mini-branded vehicles in China. This is the German automotive group’s second joint venture in the region and will not affect its current alliance with Brilliance Auto — which builds BMW models specifically equipped to appeal to the Chinese market.

The same will be true for the Mini deal with Great Wall, as the entirety of the production line will be electric vehicles. While the main reason for this is to ensure BMW hits its government-imposed quota for EVs, Great Wall said the venture would help it meet the needs of Chinese consumers and tap into the new energy vehicle market both home and abroad.

Mini has said a production version of the Mini Electric Concept won’t happen until November of 2019, but there’s been buzz that the automaker may seek widespread electrification after that. Interestingly, Chinese Minis will use a new platform developed by the joint venture, rather than rely on whatever architecture the Western-built EV adheres to. That’s two separate plug-in product lines. Will EV exclusivity be the future of the brand?  (Read More…)

By on January 10, 2018

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. (Read More…)

By on August 30, 2017

mini electric concept

In 2009, BMW avoided jumping the gun when it introduced an electric conversion of its Mini Cooper as a test platform instead of a production vehicle. Dubbed the “Mini E,” and limited to two seats due to its massive battery pack, the prototype served as a short-term consumer testbed for field trials and was deployed in several countries, including the United States.

However, as other automakers brought production EVs into the world, Mini held off — perhaps waiting for an more advantageous moment to enter the segment.

That moment appears to have arrived. The brand decided Wednesday to tease us with photos of its new “Mini Electric Concept,” which it says will enter into production in 2019. Its shares its powertrain with the BMW i3, so expect a driving range of at least 110 e-miles (or 180 with an optional gasoline range extender) and an electric motor producing a minimum of 160 horsepower. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

San Francisco, Image: Wouter Kiel/Flicker (CC BY 2.0)

I will forever remember San Francisco as the only city in America where a woman tried to pick me up. While I am sure that the average TTAC reader is a handsome, impeccably progressive feminist ally who is frequently the subject of overtures from empowered womyn, I’m a hideously ugly creature who walks with a pronounced limp and cannot help but maintain an expression of perpetual annoyance. Therefore, 99 percent of the time I have to actively, if not aggressively, sell myself to any potential paramours.

Except, that is, for that one night when I was drunkenly stumbling down some broad boulevard in downtown SF, feeling very sorry for myself, and an attractive woman in her early thirties, dressed for some sort of banking or C-suite work, walked right up to me and said, “Do you know where the nearest Bank of America is?” Even in my inebriated state I could see that it was three hundred feet behind her, and I said as much. “Gosh, thanks!” she chirped. “So… lovely night, huh? What are you doing this evening?”

“Madam,” I replied with all the 18th-century dignity I could muster, straightening my posture and inhaling deeply behind the lapels of my Brioni coat, “I am attempting to forget a woman from Tennessee.” And I trudged past her. Only the next morning did I realize that perhaps she had already known the whereabouts of the bank before asking. Oh well. Ever since then, however, I have assumed that the relatively low number of even remotely conventional men in that particular city drives women to make desperate choices.

Which brings me to today’s San Francisco treat of a question.

(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 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 April 30, 2016

2015 Mini 4-door and 2-door

Mini needs a fifth core model that stays true to the brand’s heritage while drawing in more customers, but the man in charge of the brand doesn’t like sedans.

Unless a previously unknown model crawls out of Mini’s history, one side of the dilemma will have to give up ground.

Ralph Mahler, Mini’s vice-president of product development, sparked sedan rumors earlier this month when he said a conventional four-door makes good business sense, especially in the U.S. and Asia. His boss doesn’t disagree, but hates the idea. (Read More…)

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 March 17, 2016

2016 BMW i8 Hybrid Exterior-006

BMW Group is laying out its game plan for the future, and it includes a lot of new electric vehicles.

Beyond the marketing buzzwords, there’s much similarity between BMW’s plan, released yesterday, and those of so many other automakers: building high-tech convenience and connectivity into their vehicles, diversifying their electric offerings, developing autonomous driving technology, and making the customer feel extra special.

The immediate effect on BMW’s rolling stock will be an expanded “i” range of all-electric or plug-in hybrid models, starting with a convertible version of the i8 and a longer-ranged version of the i3 by the end of this year.

(Read More…)

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