Three’s a crowd
Familiar yet fresh next-gen Mini has a triple-cylinder party starter
COULD it be that BMW finally has found the essence of the original 1950s Mini?
“All-new” yet looking identical, the third generation of the new Mini focuses on economy, affordability and — if you pick the right model — simplicity. It gets a threecylinder engine option, increased cabin room, a building-block series of media connectivity and the potential for reduced prices.
Mini is yet to nail down specifications and prices for the April launch but the signs are that BMW is prepared to pay for market share. Mini, like BMW, faces a double-front assault from longstanding rivals as well as from wannabe models previously occupying cheaper market tiers. Volkswagen’s Car of the Year-winning Golf MkVII and the Benz A‒Class are two compacts taking money from potential Mini buyers.
Initially Australia gets three versions — Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper D — with other variants to follow including the top‒shelf performance model, the 180kW John Cooper Works. There is no talk of expanding Mini’s string of variants so the range will remain the hatchback and coupes, plus long-wheelbase Countryman and its derivatives.
Up to 20 models will be built on the two Mini platforms and about half will wear BMW badges. The first BMW, the polarising 2 Series Active Sports Tourer, will be here before the year is out.
Expect the features list to expand and some pricing to fall.
Option packages will abound. The “fun’’ aspect of marketing the brand continues.
Cars shown at launch included some painted in British flags (done before when BMW launched the first generation in 2000) to indicate the extent of owner customisation, creativity or simply crook taste.
Yes, it looks the same. BMW and Mini share the new 44mm and height by 7mm — incremental but not negligible.
At 211L, boot capacity falls far short of more practical rivals. The dashboard has the speedo and tachometer directly ahead of the driver with the signature centre dial now containing a colour display for vehicle management, audio, satnav and connectivity tasks.
Cabin room is well up on the old model and four adults can fit. The two‒door design can make rear seat access awkward but then this isn’t necessarily the pick of cars for multi‒passenger rides. The dashboard is far cleaner than before but still requires a lot of