MINI – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Thu, 25 Aug 2016 21:55:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 2016 Mini Cooper S Convertible Review http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-mini-cooper-s-convertible-review-2/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-mini-cooper-s-convertible-review-2/#respond Thu, 04 Aug 2016 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=972063 Whereas the standard Mini hardtop has really strayed from its roots, adding size and weight for the worse, the changes have had an interesting influence on the ragtop 2016 Mini Cooper convertible. What was once a compromised version of an already limited-use city car is now more practical and justifiable little convertible. But as with...

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Whereas the standard Mini hardtop has really strayed from its roots, adding size and weight for the worse, the changes have had an interesting influence on the ragtop 2016 Mini Cooper convertible. What was once a compromised version of an already limited-use city car is now more practical and justifiable little convertible. But as with all fun-loving Minis, the charming quirks come at a cost.

2016 Mini Cooper S convertible rear three quarter

More Space Inside

On the upside, the new UKL platform makes the Mini Cooper longer and wider. In addition to more breathing room in the rear seats, the Cooper convertible adds 1.6 cu. Ft. of ca­rgo space, for a total of 7.6 cu. ft. with the top closed. It’s enough for two small suitcases or so, and that’s before folding the rear seats. It is somewhat of a pain to wedge larger bags through the small opening at the rear, but a handy “easy-load” latch system raises the folding top’s position temporarily. It works well, but there are lot of pieces and seals involved. The whole thing seems like something that would cause major headaches outside of warranty. For the biggest suitcases, you’re better off heaving them into the back row over the doors.

The added practicality is critical for the drop-top Cooper, making it a viable competitor to the funky Beetle Cabriolet, and even the larger but more bland Audi A3 convertible.

2016 Mini Cooper S convertible cabin 04

From the driver’s seat, the standard Mini Hardtop feels claustrophobic with its short windshield, high beltline, and high cowl. With the top up, that’s still the case in the Mini convertible. Flip the switch on the headliner to activate the fully electric top and you feel like you’re in a totally different car. With the sky above, suddenly the Cooper convertible feels airy and relaxing, which after all, is really the point of a small front-drive convertible. The top can either fold halfway to reveal only the front row, or you can hold the switch again to fully fold the canvas down. It takes 18 seconds to close or open, at speeds up to 18 mph.

No matter how you slice it, though, visibility is a problem. Despite replacing the old metal roll hoops with a space-saving deployable roll safety mechanism, it’s still impossible to get a clear rear view. With the top down, the folded canvas it stacked high on the trunk like an accordion; when it’s up, the rear-seat headrests block the edges of the rear window. Blind spots are giant and infuriating with the top up as well, especially while backing out of parking spaces.
2016 Mini Cooper S convertible rear end 03

Sunshine only ups the smiles

Mini has done a great job of making it drive like any other car in its lineup. We start in the Cooper S, and the familiar quick steering and useful low-end torque from the 2.0-liter turbo four have us quickly setting a nice pace on some gentle back roads near Farmington Hills, Michigan. Especially with the larger 17-inch wheels and low-profile run-flat rubber, the Cooper S is plenty stiff and I would by no means opt for the available sport suspension. Interestingly, the spring and dampers rates are the same for the convertible versus the hardtop. Mini says a softer tune would have compromised the handling feel that its owners now expect.

The Cooper S is fun to wring out thanks to a satisfying exhaust note on upshifts with the six-speed Getrag manual, which is only enhanced with the top down. Unlike the three-cylinder you don’t have to work as hard to keep the engine on the boil, but the four-banger is hampered by the same extremely tall gearing, which means waiting a long time for revs to even approach redline.

Ultimately though I walked away a lot more satisfied with the 1.5-liter three-cylinder in the standard Cooper. We didn’t get a chance to try it with the manual, but the six-speed automatic does a seamless job of keeping the little engine in the power band. The standard Cooper’s roughly 130-pound lighter footprint is noticeable as well, with less weight over the front tires and a more balanced feel. Never once did I feel like I needed more power, particularly because the Cooper convertible’s easy-going and lighthearted personality never really demands hammering the throttle and pushing toward the car’s limits. Calm cruising and sun-soaking is what the Cooper convertible does best, and for that the base engine is all you need.

2016 Mini Cooper S convertible front three quarter 01

Options abound

As ever, the Cooper Convertible is full of options. There’s a gorgeous new aqua paint reminiscent of the color used on the Mini Superleggera concept, a very impressive and luxurious leather diamond-quilted interior, and an optional Union Jack soft top. The Union Jack design is actually woven into the top and not screen printed on, so it won’t fade or wear out in the sun, we’re told. Built into the computer system there is still the same top-down-o-meter that measures miles spent with the sun on your neck, although it’s not quite as prominent as in past generations where it was displayed on the the center-mounted speedometer.

The catch here is that all of those nice options and amenities add up. Although it starts at $26,800 including destination, our base Cooper was loaded to the tune of $37,150. The Cooper S starts at $30,450, but our tester climbed to $38,300. You don’t need to tick every box to enjoy Mini’s drop-top appeal, but it’ll definitely cost a fair bit if you want the premium and personalized experience most Mini buyers want.

When it comes down to it the 2016 Mini Cooper convertible still offers nowhere near the fun or true sports-car cred the Miata or Fiat 124 packs, but that’s also not the point. There’s room for four, opportunity for a convincingly upscale interior you can’t get on a Beetle, and so much more personality than you get from the stoic Audi A3 or the dated Buick Cascada. More so than any of the other cars in the Mini lineup, the convertible succeeds in its mission. As a lively and endearing open-top cruiser, it continues to occupy a unique niche that attracts buyers from all over the consumer spectrum.

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2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman Review http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-mini-cooper-s-clubman-review/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2016-mini-cooper-s-clubman-review/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 10:00:11 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=971303 The new-for-2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman isn’t really that “mini” anymore. Unlike the original, unveiled for 2007 and based on the regular Mini Cooper, the new Clubman rides on its own chassis and is significantly larger: 10.9 inches longer, 2.9 inches wider, and with a wheelbase stretched by 4.0 inches. The rear-hinged third door on...

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The new-for-2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman isn’t really that “mini” anymore. Unlike the original, unveiled for 2007 and based on the regular Mini Cooper, the new Clubman rides on its own chassis and is significantly larger: 10.9 inches longer, 2.9 inches wider, and with a wheelbase stretched by 4.0 inches. The rear-hinged third door on the passenger side is gone; the new car features four full-size front-hinged doors. Three adults can now fit in the second-row bench, and getting back there no longer requires any sort of Cirque du Soleil contortions. While the more conventional layout means the new Clubman has lost some of the original’s élan, the four standard doors and greatly enhanced cabin space make it a far more versatile and accommodating automobile.

As in all Minis, style reigns supreme. I’d bet hardly any buyers are going to cross-shop one of these against, say, a VW GTI. They want the seemingly limitless customization options (racing stripes, wheels, mood lighting, etc.) and “designer” flair (especially in the cockpit) that only Mini provides in this class. Performance almost seems a secondary consideration.

2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman side profile

My test car arrived dressed to thrill. Options included Melting Silver metallic paint ($500), Pure Burgundy leather ($1,500), a tech package ($1,750, with nav, rear-view camera, and park-distance control), a premium package ($1,800, with keyless entry, panoramic moonroof, and a beefy Harman/Kardon audio system), plus a few other niceties (including $1,000 worth of LED headlights). You can get a lot wilder with the options if you like, but the bottom line climbs fast. As equipped, my tester checked in at $37,000. A base VW Golf R, with 292 horsepower and all-wheel drive, starts for less. Then again, the VeeDub doesn’t offer 255 colors of customizable ambient cockpit lighting.

2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman front three quarter 03 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman cargo space 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman front end 2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman engine

The Clubman is a pleasant car to drive, not a thriller. Power in the Cooper S edition is provided by the same 189 hp, 2.0-liter turbo four as the regular Mini Cooper S. It motivates the Clubman well enough (peak torque comes on tap at just 1,250 rpm), but a 7.0-second 0-60 mph time isn’t going to make you reach for your string-back driving gloves. The chassis is more game to play, tackling corners with a firm bite and steering with an agreeably solid feel. Three driving modes are available: Green, Mid, and Sport; choosing the latter quickens throttle and steering response (and lets in a little more engine-exhaust noise), while Green optimizes fuel efficiency. My test car was equipped with the standard six-speed Getrag manual shifter—and being able to slice through the gearbox myself was a welcome change from today’s near-universal automated transmissions. In all, this isn’t a “hot hatch,” but the DNA of parent company BMW is palpable in the Clubman’s solidity and mannered control responses.

2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman cabin 01

And I’ll admit it: The Mini “style” is charming. You start the car with a red toggle switch. The central dash display is a big, round screen framed by the kind of “cool” lighting you’d find in a chic nightclub. The steering wheel is a fat three-spoke design that feels great to the fingertips. Open the door, and the driver’s side exterior mirror projects the Mini logo onto the ground. Yeah, these are frills, but the overall takeaway is that the basic package is refined, comfortable, and functional.

The competition—VW, Ford Focus ST—offers more driving excitement and, arguably, more distinctive exterior styling. The Clubman counters with its distinctive interior, myriad conveniences, and plenty of room (open the split, rear side-hinged doors, and with the rear seats folded down the Clubman will swallow almost 48 cubic feet of cargo.

As I noted, those shopping for a hot hatch will look elsewhere. But the new Clubman will definitely attract another target audience: buyers who need a small wagon but want to hide that fact in a dressy, charismatic wrapper that says, “Wagon? No wagon here.”

2016 Mini Cooper S Clubman front three quarter 02

2016 MINI Cooper S Clubman Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $28,500/$37,000 (base/as tested)
Engine: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/189 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 207 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback
EPA Mileage: 22/32 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 168.3 x 70.9 x 56.7 in
Wheelbase: 105.1 in
Weight: 3,235 lb
0-60 MPH: 7.0 sec
Top Speed: 142 mph
2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter in motion 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter in motion 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front end 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side profile 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear end 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side in motion 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear end 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter in motion 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front end 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front end 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side in motion 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter in motion 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear end 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter in motion 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side in motion 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter in motion 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter in motion 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side in motion 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear end static 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S doors open 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front view 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear view taillights on 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side vent badge 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear side view 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear view 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side view1 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S air breather 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S badge 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S panoramic roof 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front fascia 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S wheel 2016 Mini Clubman interior Cooper S door sill plate 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S cockpit 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S center stack 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S center console controls 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S center console armrest 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S gauge 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S head up display 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior door panel lighting 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior view 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior view 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior lighting 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior door panel 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior door panel lighting 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior door panel lighting 04 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior door panel lighting 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S leather seat details 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S speaker 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S USB port 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S exterior details 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side mirror 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S exterior details 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front three quarter 03 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear three quarter in motion 05 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear end 02 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S side profile 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S wheels 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S front badge 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear windshield wipers 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear badges 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S taillight 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear badge 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S headlamp 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear handle 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S foglight 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S steering wheel 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S rear interior seats 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S parking brake 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S gear knob 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S instrument cluster 2016 Mini Clubman Cooper S interior view 03

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Mini John Cooper Works Challenge is a Sharpened Track Toy http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-john-cooper-works-challenge-sharpened-track-toy/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-john-cooper-works-challenge-sharpened-track-toy/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=956355 The 2016 Mini John Cooper Works is a fun little hatch, but there’s always room for improvement, especially for track days. With that in mind, the automaker is unveiling the new Mini John Cooper Works Challenge, a limited- and special-edition model featuring just enough upgraded hardware to make the hatch a stronger track toy. To...

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The 2016 Mini John Cooper Works is a fun little hatch, but there’s always room for improvement, especially for track days. With that in mind, the automaker is unveiling the new Mini John Cooper Works Challenge, a limited- and special-edition model featuring just enough upgraded hardware to make the hatch a stronger track toy.

To build the new JCW variant, Mini looked to the hardcore JCW race car that competes in the Mini Challenge series in the U.K. (thus the name). Among the upgrades is a limited-slip differential from Quaife and a suspension setup from Nitron that allows for quick adjustments to the damper units and camber. Mini opted to go with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that are 215 millimeters wide, which are half an inch wider than the stock JCW. Combined with the 17-inch Team Dynamic Pro Race wheels, Mini says it has shaved 5.5 pounds of unsprung weight at each corner. Rounding out the important hardware upgrades are Mintex brake pads and Brembo calipers.

Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front three quarters action 2 Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front three quarters action Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front three quarters Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front passenger seat

The twin-scroll turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 is untouched and still produces 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only gearbox available. Visual details include White Silver paint, red accents, a JCW Pro aero kit, and carbon fiber accents.

The Mini JCW Challenge will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this month before going on sale. The bad news — Mini says it’ll only build 100 units and won’t sell them outside of the U.K. That said, the upgrades are fairly easy to replicate, and could probably be done at a lower price — the JCW Challenge will retail for 32,000 British pounds or about $45,340.

Mini John Cooper Works Challenge wheels and brakes Mini John Cooper Works Challenge track mode selector 2 Mini John Cooper Works Challenge track mode selector Mini John Cooper Works Challenge taillight Mini John Cooper Works Challenge sport track mode warning Mini John Cooper Works Challenge side marker 2 Mini John Cooper Works Challenge side marker Mini John Cooper Works Challenge rear three quarters close up Mini John Cooper Works Challenge rear three quarters Mini John Cooper Works Challenge rear seats Mini John Cooper Works Challenge rear Mini John Cooper Works Challenge nitron adjustable suspension 2 Mini John Cooper Works Challenge nitron adjustable suspension Mini John Cooper Works Challenge headlight Mini John Cooper Works Challenge gear shifter Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front three quarters track Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front three quarters close up 2 Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front three quarters close up Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front badge Mini John Cooper Works Challenge front Mini John Cooper Works Challenge engine Mini John Cooper Works Challenge drive mode selector Mini John Cooper Works Challenge door sill Mini John Cooper Works Challenge dashboard

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Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler Concept is Inspired by a Dirt Bike http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-clubman-all4-scrambler-concept-is-inspired-by-a-dirt-bike/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-clubman-all4-scrambler-concept-is-inspired-by-a-dirt-bike/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 18:06:55 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=953599 Mini has transformed its Clubman wagon into an off-road beast. But unfortunately, just for this one-off concept vehicle. The Mini Clubman All4 Scrambler recently debuted in Italy where it showed off its knobbly tires ready to conquer light off-roading adventures. The wagon takes significant inspiration from the BMW R Ninet Scrambler motorcycle, including its raised...

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Mini has transformed its Clubman wagon into an off-road beast. But unfortunately, just for this one-off concept vehicle.

The Mini Clubman All4 Scrambler recently debuted in Italy where it showed off its knobbly tires ready to conquer light off-roading adventures. The wagon takes significant inspiration from the BMW R Ninet Scrambler motorcycle, including its raised suspension. The Mini also borrows the same Frozen Gray paint color and uses the same circular headlights as the motorcycle.

Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept rear view with bike

Harkening back to the Mini Traveller cars from the 1970s, the All4 Scrambler comes with a handy luggage rack. Silver detailing around the grille surround, door handles, and windows gives the rugged wagon a hint of elegance. Inside the cabin, look for Alcantara and Nappa leather upholstery as well as “Scrambler” badging.

In a weird way, the concept reminds us a bit of the Kia Trail’ster from last year. But somehow, this Mini looks like it would be more fun to take off the beaten path. We will likely never know, as both of these vehicles are only concepts.

Mini debuted an all-wheel-drive Clubman model this year, although it features the same ground clearance as front-drive Clubman models. Previously, all-wheel drive was exclusive to the Countryman and Paceman crossovers.

Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept front view with bike

Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept rear view with bike 2 Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept rear view hatch open Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept rear view Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept profile Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept interior Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept headlight Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept fender Mini Clubman ALL4 Scrambler concept windshield

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Cardboard Morris Mini Minor Crammed Into Mini Countryman http://www.automobilemag.com/news/cut-original-1959-morris-mini-minor-fits-inside-mini-countryman/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/cut-original-1959-morris-mini-minor-fits-inside-mini-countryman/#respond Mon, 06 Jun 2016 19:48:56 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=952821 Modern Minis are no longer mini in size. The standard hatchback is now on the larger side of the subcompact scale while the Mini Clubman is essentially a small wagon with the same dimensions as a Volkswagen Golf hatchback.  Practical Classics, a U.K.-based magazine, has revealed via Facebook that Dutch Mini enthusiast Jeroe Booij, and...

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Modern Minis are no longer mini in size. The standard hatchback is now on the larger side of the subcompact scale while the Mini Clubman is essentially a small wagon with the same dimensions as a Volkswagen Golf hatchback.  Practical Classics, a U.K.-based magazine, has revealed via Facebook that Dutch Mini enthusiast Jeroe Booij, and his photgrapher friend Arno Lingerak, have proved a classic 1959 Morris Mini Minor can fit inside a Mini Countryman.

Using cardboard, rulers, glue, and pens, the two secretly built a cut-out of a 1959 Morris Mini Minor and stuffed it into the Countryman. Practical Classics says that originally, the pair wanted to drive a real car into the Countryman, but they ultimately decided against it because they didn’t want to tear down the interior, and the narrow hatch wouldn’t have been wide enough for the classic Mini to even fit. Luckily, big parts like the roof and rear end didn’t present much issue getting crammed inside, allowing the pair to finish stuffing the Mini Minor cutout into the interior with only its front end being squeezed.

1959 Morris Mini Minor cut out 1 1959 Morris Mini Minor cut out 2 1959 Morris Mini Minor cut out with Countryman

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2017 Mini Seven Revealed, Celebrates Classic Austin Seven http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-mini-seven-revealed-celebrates-classic-austin-seven/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-mini-seven-revealed-celebrates-classic-austin-seven/#respond Tue, 10 May 2016 22:00:51 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=938946 Mini is gearing up to launch the special-edition Mini Seven, complete with custom wheels and a colorful interior. The model takes its name from the Austin Seven, the first classic Mini ever produced and the twin to the Morris Mini Minor back in 1959. The Seven, based off the Mini Hardtop, comes to market late...

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Mini is gearing up to launch the special-edition Mini Seven, complete with custom wheels and a colorful interior. The model takes its name from the Austin Seven, the first classic Mini ever produced and the twin to the Morris Mini Minor back in 1959.

The Seven, based off the Mini Hardtop, comes to market late this summer. It will be available in two- and four-door versions and in Cooper and Cooper S trims. A six-speed manual is standard on all models, but can be replaced by an optional seven-speed automatic.

2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition front three quarter 02

Buyers have a choice between four paint colors: Lapisluxury Blue, Pepper White, Midnight Black, and British Racing Green. Regardless of the body color, the roof and mirror caps are painted in Melting Silver. Bonnet stripes feature Melting Silver as the main color, with Malt Brown serving as a surround. Also look for specially designed two-color 17-inch wheels, or optional 18-inch Vanity Spoke wheels.

Inside the cabin, you’ll find a standard 6.5-inch infotainment system and “Seven” badging. Also standard are Malt Brown accents on the armrests as well as sports seats covered partially in black leather. But like so many other Minis, drivers can customize much of the interior to their liking. Drivers can opt for seats with Cross Punch Carbon Black leather, Lounge Satellite Grey Leather, and Carbon Black leather. Plucked from the MINI Yours line, multiple interior styles are available, including Dark Cottonwood, Fibre Alloy, and Off-White. A larger 8.8-inch screen is also an option.

This isn’t the first time Mini has borrowed the Seven name. It launched a special edition model in 2001, and again in 2005.

The new Seven is the first special-edition model of the new Mini generation. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.

 

2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition interior

2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition front end 02 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition rear end 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition rear three quarter 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition side profile 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition exterior badge 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition front wheels 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition side mirror 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition front end 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition interior dashboard 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition interior seats 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition door sill 2017 Mini Hardtop 4 Door Seven Special Edition center stack

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We Hear: Small Sedan Wouldn’t Fit the Mini Brand, No Plans for EV http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hear-small-sedan-wouldnt-fit-mini-brand-no-plans-ev/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hear-small-sedan-wouldnt-fit-mini-brand-no-plans-ev/#respond Sat, 30 Apr 2016 15:37:22 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=934638 As we reported earlier this month, Mini will focus on five “superhero” models that will help reshape the brand. But a new report casts doubt on whether Mini will bring out a compact sedan as one of its bread-and-butter offerings. Speaking with Automotive News, Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said, “If you look at the global...

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As we reported earlier this month, Mini will focus on five “superhero” models that will help reshape the brand. But a new report casts doubt on whether Mini will bring out a compact sedan as one of its bread-and-butter offerings.

Speaking with Automotive News, Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said, “If you look at the global industry and ask me which segment is the most interesting on a volume basis, it is clearly the compact sedan. But does a compact sedan fit the Mini brand? I don’t think so.”

Still, the automaker isn’t ruling out a small sedan completely. Schwarzenbauer noted he has seen proposals for such a car but hasn’t come across anything that fits the brand.

Mini says bringing the Superleggera concept to life presents an entirely different problem. While the roadster fits the brand’s image, it makes for a tough business case. Schwarzenbauer quelled rumors that the Superlegerra could use the aluminum chassis and electric powertrain from the BMW i3, saying the all-electric box car was never made with an architecture that it could share with Mini.

Mini Superleggera Vision Concept front three quarters2

In fact, Mini currently has no plans for a pure EV, Schwarzenbauer said. Plug-in hybrids, however, are possible. “Should we get to the stage when big cities say ‘downtown you’re only allowed to drive electrically,’ we need to make sure Mini can offer that,” he said.

The Superleggera will likely get a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Meanwhile, Mini hinted we won’t see a small vehicle based on the Rocketman concept anytime soon, given that the brand doesn’t have an architecture it could use for the car.

Mini Superleggera Vision Concept front three quarters 022 Mini Rocketman concept profile Mini Rocketman concept rear three quarter Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2

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http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hear-small-sedan-wouldnt-fit-mini-brand-no-plans-ev/feed/ 0 Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2 Mini Superleggera Vision Concept front three quarters2 Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2 Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2 Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2 Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2
Mini Superheroes to the Rescue? Five New Models Under Consideration http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-superheroes-rescue-five-new-models-consideration/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-superheroes-rescue-five-new-models-consideration/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:05:42 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=926526 While bringing Mini back from the dead in 2001 was far from easy for parent company BMW and its R&D department, the effort ended up paying huge dividends. The Cooper turned out to be an automotive phenomenon at the time and a massive sales success, as were the Clubman and Countryman that followed to a...

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While bringing Mini back from the dead in 2001 was far from easy for parent company BMW and its R&D department, the effort ended up paying huge dividends. The Cooper turned out to be an automotive phenomenon at the time and a massive sales success, as were the Clubman and Countryman that followed to a lesser extent.

But the rush to capitalize on the brand’s momentum since then hasn’t gone all that smoothly. Niche models like the Coupe, Roadster, and Paceman flopped epically and won’t be back. And while the four-door Cooper has done well — sales were up 10 percent in 2015 primarily due to the arrival of the second-gen model — most new Minis simply haven’t been as as hot as those first cars were. It’s easy to understand why to a certain extent; the hype and excitement around the brand has died down, and the next game-changing model has yet to materialize.

Mini Rocketman concept rear three quarter Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter1 Mini Rocketman concept front three quarter2 Mini Rocketman concept from above2

Products like the all-new Countryman XL and plug-in Countryman are on the way within a year but probably won’t move the needle much. The next generation debut of the brand’s core model, the two-door Mini Cooper, has been moved back by a year until late 2021, so there’s nothing new on that front for a while. And the long-awaited cooperation agreement with Toyota, which was due to be signed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, has yet to materialize and is becoming less likely with each passing day.

So what’s Mini doing then to reshape the brand? Its new leaders were quick to dismiss the Mini DNA of old but are now finding it much more difficult than expected to define the Mini of tomorrow. Instead of concentrating on the evolution of the product and the means required to implement it, the focus is more on the social framework in which its cars operate, talking to influencers and tapping their post-modern environment, and adding “Mini living” and “Mini fashion” as anti-mainstream elements. That’s all well and good as far as marketing goes, but where is the brand-shaping design, infotainment, ergonomics, assistance systems, alternative drivetrains, and innovation that will make Mini the must-have car for the well-heeled digital generation?

According to brand chief Sebastian Mackensen and his boss Peter Schwarzenbauer, it all hangs on five “superhero” models that will leverage a BMW-developed front-and all-wheel-drive platform called UKL, which is expected to form the basis for at least 13 new BMW and Mini models.

The current list of potential Mini “superheroes” is as follows:

  • The MiniMini — not unlike the Rocketman concept (pictured) we’ve previously seen
  • The Coolbox — a wonderfully hip four-door sedan that would move the brand into new territory
  • The Roomba — a small minivan
  • The Superleggera — an elitist roadster with a hybrid powertrain, a concept version we’ve seen before
  • The Traveller — a practical yet compact crossover that would revive a classic Mini moniker

 

There are two other proposals floating around — a car described as a stylish, five-door version of the dying Paceman and an all-electric vehicle that isn’t tied to a specific form — but the cars listed above are the top candidates.

Mini Rocketman concept profile Mini Rocketman concept interior1 Mini Rocketman concept interior3 Mini Rocketman concept from above

Of those five, the MiniMini, Roomba, and Superleggera are frontrunners for production, although the Roomba is definitely more maxi than Mini, the Superleggera would almost certainly bust budgets, and the MiniMini has no suitable platform it can dock on as of now, given that UKL is supposedly flexible in length and wheelbase but not width.

Clearly Mini is struggling to come up with a product portfolio that takes the brand to the next level. However it moves forward, there needs to be some serious substance to the lifestyle-oriented world of Mini in the form of cars that are as interesting and they are enticing — just like they were when the brand first came back.

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The 10 Cheapest Convertibles You Can Buy in 2016 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/10-cheapest-convertibles-can-buy-2016/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/10-cheapest-convertibles-can-buy-2016/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:00:03 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=921492 That wind-in-your-hair feeling. A more visceral driving experience. Whatever cliché you want to pick, there’s something great about driving with the roof down. Spring it washing its warm glow across the country, and our thoughts are turning from all-wheel-drive crossovers with heated seats to visions of open-air jaunts in our favorite roadsters. The good news is...

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That wind-in-your-hair feeling. A more visceral driving experience. Whatever cliché you want to pick, there’s something great about driving with the roof down. Spring it washing its warm glow across the country, and our thoughts are turning from all-wheel-drive crossovers with heated seats to visions of open-air jaunts in our favorite roadsters.

The good news is that the virtues of a convertible transcend price tags and horsepower ratings; you can enjoy the joy of top-down motoring just as easily in an affordable, reasonably powered convertible as you can in a 200-mph, six-figure exotic. So long as you can lower your car’s roof and set off for a drive, the type of convertible doesn’t matter.

With that in mind, here are the 10 most affordable new convertibles you can buy in 2016. Any of these cars would be the perfect companion for taking advantage of beautiful days to soak up sunshine and scenery.

2016 Fiat 500C Pop: $21,390, including destination

2015 Fiat 500c 1957 Edition front three quarter1

Customer enthusiasm for Fiat’s teensy 500 and 500C has cooled over the years, with sales falling steadily, but that doesn’t mean there are no reasons to consider the cheery 500C. Compact enough to fit into any parking space—and we mean any parking space—the 500C is perhaps the most sensible drop-top for city dwellers. The standard car comes with a 101-hp, 1.4-liter inline-four engine; we’d want to upgrade to the feistier turbocharged Abarth variant, which has 160 hp and an exhaust growl straight out of a Group B rally race.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Sport 4×4: $24,890

Jeep Wrangler Sport rear three quarter 02

The iconic off-roader comes with a folding fabric roof, though many owners choose to fit a hardtop instead. Yet with the Wrangler’s roof lowered, it’s easy to see why 202,702 Americans bought one last year: It can take you anywhere, with several trim levels offering varying components such as locking differentials and disconnecting anti-roll bars for scaling rugged terrain; it can seat four people; and if you unbolt the doors, you’re even more exposed to the elements than in a traditional convertible. Time is running out to get this version of the Jeep Wrangler, however, as an all-new model is likely to debut in 2017. Fortunately, Jeep plans to keep building the old one for a short time even after introducing the next-gen Wrangler.

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport: $25,735

Mazda MX 5 Miata rear three quarter in motion 01

We may have mentioned that we like the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Perhaps it was when we took the new car and its predecessors on a road trip through northern Michigan, when we thrashed it around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, or when we named it a 2016 AUTOMOBILE All-Star. The fact is, the Miata remains one of our go-to recommendations for anyone who wants an affordable, fun-to-drive roadster. Though its 2.0-liter engine makes only 155 hp, the Miata’s lightweight design—starting below 2,400 pounds—contributes to the car’s zesty acceleration, lithe handling, and strong braking. While cargo space is minimal and there are only two seats, it’s hard not to enjoy driving the MX-5.

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1.8T S: $26,310

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune side

Channeling nostalgia for the original air-cooled model, the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible trades practicality and cargo space for serious open-air charm. The power-operated top can be raised or lowered in just 9.5 seconds and speeds up to 31 mph, and buyers can pick a 170-hp or a 210-hp turbocharged engine. (The optional TDI diesel is not currently available for sale.) There’s even a funky Beetle Dune convertible (pictured) that channels visions of old-school Baja Bug racers. After we spent a year with a Four Seasons Beetle Convertible, we concluded that it was at its best when the top was lowered: “Flaws and all, it managed to charm us with its classic Beetle looks and fun-loving character. It just needs a warning: meant for top-down driving only.”

2016 Mini Cooper Convertible: $26,800

2016 Mini Convertible Cooper S top view 04

The latest Mini Cooper Convertible, introduced to the U.S. in November 2015, is a little larger and more spacious than before, though the 2+2 layout still doesn’t provide that much room for back-seat passengers. Still, it has all the cute, funky style of other Cooper models, with buyers able to pick between a fuel-sipping, 135-hp, 1.5-liter inline-three turbo engine, a 189-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four for S models, and a racy 228-hp John Cooper Works model.

2016 Ford Mustang V-6 Convertible: $30,545

2015 Ford Mustang GT convertible front three quarter view

When you think of taking three friends on an ice cream run on a summer day, the Mustang convertible may be the car you have in mind. Long one of America’s most iconic cars, the Ford Mustang coupe and convertible were updated for the 2015 model year with a fresh design, new technology, new engines, and perhaps most significant of all, independent rear suspension. We’re huge fans of the revamped Mustang and named it a 2015 AUTOMOBILE All-Star. While we prefer the Mustang GT‘s traditionalist 5.0-liter V-8 engine, shoppers can save money by picking the 3.7-liter V-6 or the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four engine. Whichever powertrain you pick, the Mustang convertible is a great choice for top-down summer jaunts.

2016 Volkswagen Eos Komfort: $32,860

2015 Volkswagen Eos Final Edition front three quarter in motion 02

Volkswagen’s Eos, with its power hard top, soldiers on for another year, offering buyers an affordable, stylish, and reasonably spacious way to drop the top. Production of the Eos ends this November, and the car’s price was slashed significantly this year as VW tries to sell off the remaining stock. The Eos was first introduced in the U.S. at the 2006 Los Angeles auto show, so it’s one of the most dated entries in Volkswagen showrooms, and sales have fallen over the past years. In 2015, Volkswagen sold only 2,993 Eos convertibles, down 12.3 percent from 2014.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 1LT: $33,695

2016 Chevrolet Camaro RS Convertible homepage

America’s other classic ponycar, the Camaro, charges a bit more than the Mustang for open-air pleasure. As with the Camaro coupe, a new platform (called Alpha and shared with the Cadillac ATS) shaves significant weight. As with the Mustang, there are three engine choices—a turbo-four, a V-6, and an old-school V-8—plus a choice between manual and automatic transmissions. The Camaro convertible‘s power softtop lowers in seconds at speeds up to 30 mph and can even be opened or closed remotely (when the car is parked) via the key fob. As on the Mustang convertible, cargo space suffers a bit compared to the Camaro coupe, although styling is enhanced by the automatically deploying tonneau cover that conceals the fabric roof when it is lowered. “With the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro convertible, the soul of the car remains in place,” we wrote in March. “Instead of a one-dimensional parade car, the Camaro convertible remains a driver’s car, only one with a bigger, more well-rounded personality.”

2016 Buick Cascada 1SV: $33,990

2016 Buick Cascada Convertible side in motion

Forget memories of the early 2000s dance-music band by the same name. The Buick Cascada is a rebranded, Americanized version of the Opel drop-top of the same name. Designed as a style-first model that brings topless driving to more people, it prioritizes comfort and looks over sporty driving. As a boulevard cruiser, though, we found the Buick Cascada to be an impressive new addition to America’s convertible lineup. “On the road, the 2016 Buick Cascada is a viceless car, performing every task well but never exceptionally so,” we wrote when we first drove it. “It’s surprisingly quiet with the top up, very tolerable with the top down.”

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T: $36,525

2017 Audi A3 cabriolet European Spec front three quarter 01

Just like the smart four-door A3 sedan, the Audi A3 Cabriolet is based on the same modern MQB component set as the Volkswagen Golf GTI. With space for four, a 170-hp 1.8-liter turbo-four as standard or an optional 220-hp 2.0-liter turbo engine, the A3 Cabriolet is a stylish and sensible way to take friends for a blast through the great outdoors. All-wheel drive comes standard, too, for year-round traction whether the top is up or down, as does a backup camera, parking sensors, heated mirrors, and heated washer nozzles. And although it’s still not especially spacious, the A3 Cabriolet even offers more rear legroom than a Ford Mustang drop-top.

Honorable Mentions

2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet profile 1 2017 FIat 124 Elaborazione Abarth front three quarter 2017 Mazda MX 5 Miata RF side profile 01 2017 Mazda MX 5 Miata RF on stage rear side view top folding

Over the coming months, we’re looking forward to learning how much we’ll pay for several other new convertibles. The 2017 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet looks to combine the model’s city-smart sizing with the thrill of topless driving. The standard Fortwo coupe starts at $16,890, so expect a price tag somewhere close to that for the drop-top. Fiat is set to launch its 124 Spider later this year. Based on the Mazda Miata, the Fiat 124 Spider will also spawn a much racier Elaborazione Abarth model with upgraded suspension and brakes. And speaking of the Miata, Mazda will broaden the car’s appeal by opening order books for the Retractable Fastback model this summer. With a power-folding hard top and gorgeous flying buttress styling cues, the Miata RF will probably cost about $2,000 more than equivalent soft-top versions.

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Rolls-Royce, Mini to Reveal Concept Cars This Year http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rolls-royce-mini-reveal-concept-cars-year/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/rolls-royce-mini-reveal-concept-cars-year/#respond Tue, 08 Mar 2016 15:41:19 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=898575 As BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary, kicking off with the launch of the futuristic Vision Next 100 concept, the company’s other brands will also show off concepts that provide hints as to their future. Later this year, Mini, Rolls-Royce, and the BMW Motorrad motorcycle division will also their own “Vision” vehicle. BMW has so far...

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As BMW celebrates its 100th anniversary, kicking off with the launch of the futuristic Vision Next 100 concept, the company’s other brands will also show off concepts that provide hints as to their future. Later this year, Mini, Rolls-Royce, and the BMW Motorrad motorcycle division will also their own “Vision” vehicle.

BMW has so far revealed very little about the upcoming concepts, saying only that the Rolls-Royce and Mini will be shown in the U.K. this summer. Autocar reports that the Rolls-Royce concept will be called the Grand Sanctuary and will demonstrate the brand’s idea for, “the ultimate cossetting interior.” The car may be revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in late June.

The Mini concept car, meanwhile, is reportedly being teased with the tagline, “Every Mini is a Mini,” potentially signaling an increased focus in the personalization and accessory programs that are already available for all Mini cars. While some Mini concept cars have merely been loosely disguised versions of production models, like the Clubman concept shown in 2014, others have been a more fanciful look at the future of Mini, like the Superlegerra Vision roadster. This year’s concept is likely to be in the latter camp, following in the forward-looking footsteps of the BMW Vision Next 100.

At the end of the year, BMW Motorrad will also show a concept motorcycle in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for more details on all three vehicles later this year.

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