Suddenly, there’s a lot more to the Mini
IT has taken 10 years for BMW to have fun with its Mini models.
The Convertible, in 2004, and the Clubman estate, in 2007, were just precursors for the Countryman, the first production Mini with four doors. It will genuinely seat four large adults and it will go on sale this autumn, from £16,000. When equipped with 4x4 transmission and more agressive bumpers, it is akin to a Mini Range Rover.
The rationale at Mini’s Oxford HQ is that there comes a time when Mini owners need more space. The Countryman is that car. Common sense also informs them that the range needs to evolve, as other manufacturers nibble at the demand for chic quality cars, viz the Citroën DS3: next up is the Audi A1. For the moment, Mini is strong, with UK sales and second-hand values beating market trends.
So, to the future and next year there will be a twoseater Mini Coupé and, in 2011, comes a drophead Roadster version. They are lighter and lower than the hatch, slightly shorter but the same width.
The Coupé’s roof trails into a capped rear spoiler and the back section opens up for loading access. It looks hot and quick.
The Roadster has a conventional fabric roof. To save weight and cost, it has to be lowered or raised manually in a “one-handed operation that takes but a few seconds,” says the company.
This has yet to be tested and thus open to dispute. Many owners may have liked the option of electric assistance. Certainly there is no sign that Mini buyers are short of cash.
The Roadster should be even more stable and agile than a Mini hatchback but to be safe, a spring-up aluminium bar erects in a split second if the car loses its composure.
Engines and prices have yet to be confirmed but the newly engineered 1.6 petrol engines will feature. These are being fitted to the current Mini range and the Countryman. These moves see the dropping of the 1.4 petrol motor.
The cheapest Mini is now the First, with 75 horse power, at £11,160. It records 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds 52.3mpg and 127g/km of CO2. Those figures are matched by the latest Mini One, with 98bhp, from £13,620. Tax-dodgers can pay an additional £300 for the Minimalism with stop-start and other eco twirls. It emits 119g/km and records 52.3mpg.
The Oxford factory makes more than 200,000 Minis a year, of which 80 per cent, worth £2bn, are exported. The Countryman, however, is being made in Graz, Austria, by Steyr.
MINI MARVELS: The Roadster, and, inset, the Coupé.