Auto blogWed, 14 Aug 2013 10:31:00 EST
As we approach the November 18 debut of the new Mini Hardtop, the trickle of news is starting to increase. We've already shown you the exterior of the new hatchback, and now we can show you the interior. These images, captured by Car News China, show a cabin that maintains a few key Mini styling items, but is a fairly progressive evolution of the current R56 model.
Mini's most iconic interior treatment, its center-mounted speedometer, is now gone. The new speedo sits atop the steering column, flanked by a (too tiny, in our opinion) tachometer. In the speedometer's former position are the radio controls. Our friends in China put it best when they say, "The large dial is much uglier than before." There's a mass of buttons and unfriendly black plastic that, at first glance, look far cheaper than the rest of the cabin. Of course, we'll wait to see how this is all ironed out for the production-spec car.
The other parts of the interior, however, look quite good. There's a small bank of toggle buttons at the bottom of the center stack, and the checkerboard dash insert looks clean as well. The seats sport extensions for the bottom cushions, meaning there'll be the option of more support for drivers with longer legs. GTI fans might also notice the plaid bolsters on the seats. Mini's treatment is a bit more subtle than what you'd see on a Volkswagen, though.
Wed, 07 Aug 2013 13:01:00 EST
Video billboards are nothing new, but a video on a moving car that's blaring music? Now that's something that will catch your attention - especially if you're driving alongside it in the streets of London.
That's the exact intent of Mini's new Art Beat, a Cooper Countryman turned marketing device that is custom-fitted with a staggering 48,000 LEDs. On its nightly drives through the city, the compact crossover showcases brightly colored videos, graphics and animations contributed by people around the world via social media. The Mini Space Blog describes the Art Beat as the "most vibrant and customizable NOT NORMAL ride you'll ever lay eyes on."
Miniacs, note November 18 on your calendar. That's when the all-new Mini Hardtop will debut. Now, this might not be a great deal of news, after all, we already showed you the car, codenamed F56, a few weeks ago. But this full unveiling should bring with it even more detailed exterior images, a full look at the cabin and if we're lucky, performance numbers.
History buffs will also note that November 18 is the birthday of Sir Alec Issigonis. It was Issigonis that penned the original idea for the Mini on a cocktail napkin, envisioning a car with a transversely mounted engine, the wheels pushed out to all four corners and plenty of cabin space for occupants. That car had a remarkably small footprint and was quite efficient, perfect for tackling the fuel shortages brought on by the Suez Crisis in 1959's Great Britain. An unintended side-effect of its design was that it was also an absolute hoot to drive.
The November 18 debut will take place at Mini's home, Plant Oxford, in the UK. Following that, November 20 will see a near-simultaneous debut at both the Tokyo Motor Show and Los Angeles Auto Show. We'll be on hand to bring you all the details.
The next-generation Mini lineup could see some big changes, according to a report from Australian site CarSales. Starting with the debut of the third-generation Mini Hardtop at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show, we could see a regular string of Minis on the stages of the world. But the bodystyles we see might not be what we've grown used to.
A four-door sedan could eventually arrive, while the polarizing Mini Coupe and Roadster are likely to be replaced by a dedicated sports car with unique sheetmetal and uprated engines. While the rest of the line is switching to three-cylinder, turbocharged engines, the new sports car, which will be available in both soft- and hardtop variants, will use some version of BMW's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder. The Aussie site also claims that the interior treatment could take inspiration from the Mini Vision concept car, while showing off the know-how BMW gained when working carbon fiber into the i3. The new model(s) would likely arrive in late 2015 or early 2016.
According to CarSales, we'll see the three-door Hardtop at the 2013 LA Show, along with a five-door hatch that is different from the Clubman at the 2014 Paris show. The Clubman, meanwhile, will arrive in Geneva in 2015, while the Convertible is slated for later that same year. The current Countryman and Paceman are expected to be around for some time, before being joined by an MPV. Eventually, the larger Minis will share their architecture with the BMW X1.
Mini will be ending custom orders of the current R56 Cooper Hardtop ahead of the retooling process for the new F56 Mini. That means owners who aren't enamored with what they've seen of the model's new look but still want a personalized version of the tossable hot hatch had best get down to their local Mini dealership and submit their order post-haste.
According to Mini enthusiast site Motoringfile, all orders must be submitted by August 28 in order to get a custom build. Orders are also locked in after that, so if you do get one of the spots, make sure you're absolutely content with the car you order. This cutoff will affect all models of the Hardtop, including the John Cooper Works model.
After August 28, owners will need to wait for the new Hardtop to arrive, which Motoringfile estimates will be in March of 2014. If you miss out on this final allocation of hardtops, all is not lost, however. Mini will still accept personalized orders on other bodystyles, which won't be replaced by F56-based models for some time.
Sun, 28 Jul 2013 14:27:00 EST
Despite selling 6.6-percent more vehicles - a record by volume - and posting higher revenues in the second quarter of 2013, BMW Group's profit of 2.07 million euros ($2.75 billion) is down 8.8 percent from last year. Investments in new technology (e.g. the new i3) and personnel, in addition to a competitive market, are to blame, BMW states. But the automaker remains committed to its fiscal targets for 2013, which, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Norbert Reithofer, says will be "on a similar scale to 2012."
The BMW brand's sales performance in the first half of the year, which increased by 7.7 percent to 804,258 vehicles delivered, was good enough for it to maintain its lead in the luxury market, narrowly beating Audi, which delivered 780,510 vehicles, Automotive News reports. Mercedes-Benz delivered 694,433 vehicles to cement third place.
Mini, never one to pass on a marketing opportunity, has pounced on the plight of embattled New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who seems to have an issue with sending pictures of his genitals to young women. Observers will notice that this is the second time the unfortunately named Mr. Weiner has been in the spotlight for his picture messages.
Capitalizing on Weiner's alias, Carlos Danger, Mini has created an account on Twitter - @CarlosDMotor. With a note on the profile page listing "Danger" as the account's middle name, it's sent out just one tweet, containing the message, "Wanna get your hands on my stick?" Attached to the Tweet is a scantily clad Mini Cooper S, with a towel around its "waist" snapping a picture. Too soon? To borrow the brilliant pun from AdWeek, the "auto erotica" was the idea of Mini's marketing agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Click below for the full tweet.
Mini is preparing to launch the third-generation of its trademark three-door hatch, and while we've already shown you that car mostly devoid of camouflage in spy shots, the BMW-owned brand has still seen fit to release a concept that previews the new design. Called the Mini Vision, it looks broadly similar to the cars we showed you at the beginning of the month, aside from a few concepty styling pieces.
The Vision is a well-balanced blend of the stylish hatch that rebooted the Mini brand in 2002 and the more bloated model that arrived in 2007. It's more rounded than the 2002, but seems decidedly more muscular than the 2007, and features modern accents like full LED headlights inspired by the sadly not-for-production Rocketman concept. Mini's traditional floating roof soldiers on, while the concept wears side grilles that seem borrowed from the Countryman and Paceman. Based on what we've seen in the spy shots, however, that treatment isn't going to make production, at least not on the models we've seen.
It's safe to say that the interior on this concept bears only a slight resemblance to what we'll see on the production car. The integrated Union Jack straps in the door panels are a cool touch, but the Vision's cabin looks like something out of a flying saucer. We'd expect only inspirational traces to arrive on the production model.
Mini sold 301,526 cars in 2012; BMW sold 1.54 million of its own models. According to a piece in Autocar, analysts say the coming UKL1 platform that will form the skeleton of the third-generation Mini Cooper and coming front-wheel drive BMW 1 Series could be responsible for "more than 900,000 cars per year" all by itself.
That sale fire is fueled by the UKL1 wearing up to twenty-three bodies in total between the two brands, 11 for Mini and 12 for BMW, rendering hatchbacks, sedans, coupes, convertibles, wagons, crossovers and people-haulers from about 12.5 feet to 14.5 feet. In April the VP of Mini USA said we might find some current models don't make it to a next generation, but a graphic accompanying the Autocar story has them all there. If it's correct, then those 23 models will only base model lines and don't account for different engines and four-wheel-drive options for each model.
The big changes that would perhaps mean big sales for the Mini line are a five-door hatch with two smaller rear doors for children, the sedan talked about last year for Asian markets and an MPV perhaps wearing the "Traveler" name that could send the Countryman in a more SUV-like direction.
Electric Federal has taken a fresh look back at the enduring legacy of original Mini with a video interview with Heritage Garage's Graham Reid, one of the foremost experts on classic Minis. As Electric Federal points out, it's important to remember that the Mini did not start out as a performance car. It was built in response to the Suez Canal crisis of the mid-50s, which had a similar effect on British gas prices as OPEC did on American prices in the 1970s - rationing and rapid price jumps.
Through the years, Minis have grown from their budget roots to become seriously competent performance machines. As Reid says, a 150-horsepower Mini on the right track should have no problem outpacing a contemporary Porsche 911.
For some time now, classic Mini owners have been dropping Honda engines under the tiny hoods of their classics. With up to 250 horsepower pulling a car that tips the scales at barely 1,200 pounds, the upgraded Mini is "a real sleeper," Reid says. Interestingly, Reid doesn't mention another increasingly common swap in the Mini community - Suzuki Hayabusa-powered Coopers.