Coun­try­man to dou­ble sales

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

Mini Aus­tralia is at­tempt­ing to cap­i­talise on the SUV sales boom, hav­ing launched its sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion Coun­try­man with ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive spec­i­fi­ca­tion that the brand be­lieves will help more than dou­ble its sales and lead it to be­come the top-sell­ing bodystyle.

The F60-gen­er­a­tion Coun­try­man has been tagged as the fi­nal new model switch for Mini’s ‘core’ five-bodystyle range, which also com­prises the three-door hatch­back, five-door hatch, con­vert­ible and Club­man, and it has as­cended to be­come a crit­i­cal growth model that is tipped to al­most dou­ble sales this year.

A four-tier line-up in­cludes the $39,900 – plus on-road costs – Coun­try­man three-cylin­der turbo petrol, $43,900 Coun­try­man D four-cylin­der turbo-diesel, $46,500 Coun­try­man S with four-cylin­der turbo petrol and $51,500 Coun­try­man SD with a more pow­er­ful ver­sion of the en­try diesel.

For the first time, an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion has been made stan­dard – sixspeed in Coun­try­man, eight-speed in D, S and SD – while only the lat­ter range flag­ship has all-wheel drive ca­pa­bil­ity.

De­spite a sim­pli­fied range – Mini cited a low take-up rate for the all­paw S as the rea­son for it be­ing ditched from the range – the brand listed en­hanced spec­i­fi­ca­tion and a roomier and more prac­ti­cal cabin as core rea­sons for its ex­pec­ta­tion that sales would soar.

Speak­ing at the na­tional me­dia launch of the new Coun­try­man in Can­berra last week, Mini Aus­tralia gen­eral sales man­ager Tony Sesto said the Mini SUV was now tipped to out­sell the three-door and five-door hatch­backs in­di­vid­u­ally.

“It def­i­nitely could be­come the best­selling Mini if you look at the trend of where the market is go­ing and the strength of SUVS,” he said.

“We ex­pect it to be the top-seller for us this year if you split the three and five-door hatch­back. We think this is go­ing to be a big seller for us.”

Last year Mini sold 2429 units of the Mini Hatch, split 1304 five-door and 1125 three-door, while only 530 sales were recorded for the Coun­try­man.

While Mr Sesto said sales fig­ures were some­thing he could not com­ment on, the num­bers in­di­cated the new Mini SUV had been tipped to more than dou­ble sales to be­yond 1300 units this year.

With the Mini brand up 12.7 per­cent in 2016 to 3765 units, Mr Sesto said with the brand new Coun­try­man the com­pany ex­pected that growth to con­tinue.

Premium mod­els ac­counted for eight per­cent of the small SUV seg­ment in 2015, but that ex­tended to 11 per­cent in 2016.

Of the sales split, the S has been dubbed the ‘sweet spot in the range for prod­uct sub­stance’ and to­gether with the SD has still been tipped to ac­count for more than 50 per­cent of sales for the first time.

Mini Aus­tralia prod­uct plan­ning man­ager Daniel Sil­ver­wood said al­though the orig­i­nal model played a very strate­gic role for the brand, it was pegged as only a se­cond or third fam­ily car in the house­hold.

“Many of the cus­tomers who con­sid­ered a Coun­try­man pre­vi­ously and didn’t go onto buy it gave us that feed­back in a sur­vey – that they re­quired more space and prac­ti­cal­ity than what we could of­fer,” he said.

“Pre­vi­ously the size of our ve­hi­cles hud­dled our range within a small cat­e­gory, so we had R60 be­ing the pre­vi­ous Coun­try­man, R55 be­ing the pre­vi­ous Club­man, that were sim­i­lar in size to the cur­rent hatch.

“Back then it was of­ten the se­cond or third car in the house­hold.

“When we in­tro­duced the lat­est­gen­er­a­tion Club­man in 2015 it was a larger ve­hi­cle, more com­fort and more space, and it could be­come the first car in the house­hold.

“Our ex­pec­ta­tion with the Coun­try­man is it can be the first car in the house­hold. It’s built for ev­ery oc­ca­sion.”

TREE CHANGE: Mini’s Coun­try­man is back in its se­cond gen­er­a­tion, big­ger, bet­terequippe­d and with more ef­fi­cient en­gines.

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