generation MINI comes
with maximum brand
appeal. In addition,
its a fun drive and
should return 50mpg
No wonder MINI owners
are always smiling!
WITH THE MINI BRAND safely under the BMW Group owner-ship since 1994 and their 'own' first generation of the MINI going on sale in July 2001, the MINI brand has become a huge sales success worldwide.
The original Mini, launched in 1959 as a cheap family car, used lower-case letters for its model name and 5.3 million were sold until it ceased production in 2000. Under BMW's ownership, the new MINI brand name was re-born as a 'premium' range using uppercase letters in keeping with the parent company's BMW branding.
Earlier this month the millionth BMW-built MINI came off the production lines at Plant Oxford and in March, MINI UK saw its largest ever monthly sales record since the car went on the market in July 2001. March 2007 new registration plate sales in the UK were 7,869 vehicles and year-to-date 11,568 new MINIs have been sold in the UK an impressive increase of 16 per cent over the same period of 2006.
With annual production at Oxford likely to reach 240,000 vehicles next year (with an extra 450 jobs created), the British-built MINI is sold in 80 countries around the world with the UK still being the number one market accounting for around 45,000 annual sales. The USA is second with 42,000 annual sales and Germany third with 30,000 customers each year. Almost 80 per cent of MINIs, which are all built in Britain to individual customer orders, are currently produced for export.
In November 2006 the second generation of the BMW Group owned MINI went on sale, with just two initial models available the 1.6-litre MINI Cooper and the 1.6-litre turbocharged MINI Cooper S, already road tested by MotorBar. These new models use the latest generation of petrol engines which, along with the new 1.4-litre unit, are assem-bled at BMW's Hams Hall factory near Birmingham. All the petrol and diesel engines for the MINI range come from the BMW/PSA Peugeot-Citroen/Ford engine alliance.
As from mid-April, the second generation MINI range sees two addit-ional models added to it: the frugal Mini One with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and the MINI Cooper D diesel, priced from £11,610 and £14,175 respectively. The popular extra cost option packs Salt, Pepper and Chili continue, but the exact availability depends on which core new MINI model is chosen. These prices add between £370 and £1,995 to the retail cost of the car.
The very popular MINI tlc service pack (for five years/50,000 at a
one-off price of £150) is retained, with the option to increase this
for a further three years/30,000 for a further £380.
The MINI Convertible, based on BMW's first generation MINI, remains on sale but with additional model derivatives, including the recently added Sidewalk variants. These include MINI One, Cooper and Cooper
S engines. Prices range from £13,615 up to £20,250. A new Convertible based on the second generation MINI is still two years away from
A MINI Clubman model (estate type, with twin rear doors) is scheduled for introduction in the last quarter of this year with an engine line-up mirroring the MINI hatchbacks.
This year, MINI production at Oxford will be 79 per cent hatchbacks and 21 per cent Convertibles and Clubman models. The Cooper specif-ication is expected to account for 34.5 per cent of sales; the latest MINI One 22.5 per cent; the Cooper S 17 per cent and the Cooper D
5 per cent. However, with the turbodiesel model having low exhaust emissions at 118g/km (below the 120g/km proposed congestion charge levels), MINI UK expects demand for the diesel derivative to substan-tially increase especially once the automatic transmission option is introduced later this year.
Although now in its second generation, the latest MINI looks very similar to the original BMW MINI. A clever move. It hasn't made the original BMW-produced MINI look out of date and consequently that has retained high trade-in values. Besides, customers new and old
love the shape.
Larger in size, better equipped, better quality, better performance, lower fuel consumption and emissions and much improved engine performance, handling and overall driveability at only modest price increase are all features appreciated by customers.
Now with the launch of MINI One and MINI Cooper D, the range has become even better for engine choice and is more affordable with the £11,610 starting point.
The new 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is derived from the recently introduced 1.6-litre unit featured in the latest Cooper model. This lightweight engine uses BMW Group's Valvetronic variable valve control and in return we get a 5bhp power increase, more torque, a 15 per cent improvement in the average fuel consumption and a 16 per cent improvement in CO2 levels over the outgoing MINI One. Maximum power output is 95hp with 103lb ft of torque at 4,000rpm with 49.6mpg and a CO2 rating of 138g/km. Top speed is 115mph and 0-62mph is a brisk 10.9 seconds.
A slick, six-speed manual transmission is used in conjunction with this engine. Which is all to the good. The engine can be docile and really flexible in town or when you are driving in less of a hurry. Use the gearbox and the engine despite its 1.4-litre size can become relatively sporty and responsive, although it is no hot rod. It is quiet, smooth and does not sound stressed except when pushed hard. As an everyday car at an affordable price, it works really well.
The MINI Cooper D is the BMW Group's cleanest ever car. Its brand new turbocharged 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine develops 110hp at 4,000rpm and emits just 118g/km CO2. Under normal conditions, peak torque of 177lb ft is achieved between 1,750 and 2,000rpm. Deploying the engine's Overboost function gives the Cooper D an additional 15lb ft of torque, meaning the driver will experience 192lb ft at 2,000rpm.
MINI enthusiasts will recognise this torque figure as being identical to that produced by the new MINI Cooper S. Top speed of the latest 'D'
is 121mph and the 0-62mph time is 9.9 seconds. The combined fuel consumption is the highest for any MINI yet at a truly commendable 64.2mpg. The turbocharger system features variable turbine geometry and response, even at low engine speeds is stunning, very quiet and smooth.
A diesel particulate filter effectively reduces all diesel exhaust emiss-ions and helps to make the MINI diesel engine one of the most environ-mentally friendly in its class. Its 118g/km CO2 figure puts the car into VED tax band B for UK road tax, costing an owner just £35 per year.
Again a six-speed transmission is standard, but unlike the smaller new petrol unit the engine's diesel torque does the work, not the gearbox. The MINI Cooper D is both very flexible and very quick. It does not sound like a diesel at all and really is now the best choice of power units in the new MINI range although I admit it will only be bought by
a relatively few customers, which is a shame. Yes the 1.6 petrol engines are fun, the 1.4-litre petrol quietly efficient, but the 1.6-litre diesel should be seriously considered especially by business users, company car drivers or congestion zone commuters. An added bonus if all of the foregoing are not enough! is the Cooper styling which gives it a sports-hatch look as well.
The only drawback is the £14,175 price but expect a 'standard' MINI D with less pronounced sports styling to be added to the range soon. The proposed automatic transmission for this engine will also be a great asset. So while option prices are high and there's no air conditioning as standard, the new diesel engine is far more flexible and even better for running costs than the superseded version.
The new second generation MINI Cooper D and the MINI One both
offer brand desirability, fun styling inside and out, excellent build quality, slick six-speed gearbox and reasonable performance for most users. The One's 1.4-litre petrol engine is smooth and fuel efficient
and combined with an affordable £11,610 price and 50mpg real-world fuel consumption is certain to attract even more new customers to
the MINI brand. And on that you can safely place a rather large bet!
MINI One MkII | £11,610
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Overall test MPG: 49.6mpg | Power: 95bhp | Torque: 103lb ft
Visit MINI's website