MINI – Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Thu, 27 Jul 2017 04:05:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Oscar Mayer Adds Drone to Wienermobile Fleet http://www.automobilemag.com/news/oscar-mayer-expands-wienermobile-fleet-with-drone/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/oscar-mayer-expands-wienermobile-fleet-with-drone/#respond Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:11:24 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1172680 Given the Wienermobile has been around since 1936, it’s time for Oscar Mayer to update its hot dog delivery fleet for a new generation. Enter the WienerDrone, designed to reach hungry hot dog eaters in remote locations. The WienerDrone can fly at a maximum altitude of 1,200 feet for up to 15 minutes at a...

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Given the Wienermobile has been around since 1936, it’s time for Oscar Mayer to update its hot dog delivery fleet for a new generation. Enter the WienerDrone, designed to reach hungry hot dog eaters in remote locations.

The WienerDrone can fly at a maximum altitude of 1,200 feet for up to 15 minutes at a time. The downside? It only carries one hot dog. And you better catch it when it deploys from the hot dog chute.

In a new promotional video, Oscar Mayer shows off its entire Wienerfleet. There’s the WienerRover, a small, remote-controlled off-road vehicle capable of delivering six hot dogs, a WienerCycle with a built-in hot dog warmer sidecar, and a WienerMini based on the Mini Cooper. Lastly, there’s the most impressive of them all: the classic Wienermobile that can hold up to 27,000 hot dogs.

The expanded fleet debuts not only in time for the Fourth of July holiday, but also as Oscar Mayer announces a major overhaul of its product. The company has removed all added nitrates and nitrites, by-products, and artificial preservatives from its entire line of hot dogs. In celebration, all five of Oscar Mayer’s vehicles will travel to Weiner, Ark., for the Fourth of July holiday and greet residents with hot dogs.

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Thousands of Minis Invade Ireland for 2017 International Meeting http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-international-mini-meeting/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-international-mini-meeting/#respond Wed, 24 May 2017 21:25:05 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1163418 Forget Coachella. For Mini Cooper lovers, the International Mini Meeting is the must-see festival of 2017. More than 1,200 Minis and 3,000 attendees will gather at Westport House in Ireland to showcase their cars and enjoy a slew of Mini-themed events. Participants can enjoy activities like a Mini treasure hunt along the Wild Atlantic Way,...

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Forget Coachella. For Mini Cooper lovers, the International Mini Meeting is the must-see festival of 2017. More than 1,200 Minis and 3,000 attendees will gather at Westport House in Ireland to showcase their cars and enjoy a slew of Mini-themed events.

Participants can enjoy activities like a Mini treasure hunt along the Wild Atlantic Way, the Mini Owners Club Olympic Games, slalom races, and awards for exceptional cars. There will also be live music and family activities held throughout the weekend. The gathering will also honor two special guests: Irish racing legend Mervyn Johnson and Monte Carlo Rally winner Paddy Hopkirk. Mini cars of all ages are welcome at the event, and an Irish Mini dealer will showcase the next generation of models.

International Mini Meetings started in Germany in 1978 as a three-day camping event. Its popularity grew to the point where a different country hosts the festival every year.

Festival tickets cost a little more than $100 for the weekend, including camping. Sunday tickets are available for about $10 at current exchange rates.

For Mini enthusiasts, this event is hard to beat for the sheer quantity and diversity of cars. It runs May 25-28.

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Mini Teams Up with Autohome for New Countryman Rooftop Tent http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-teams-up-with-autohome-for-new-countryman-rooftop-tent/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mini-teams-up-with-autohome-for-new-countryman-rooftop-tent/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 22:45:30 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1158178 Mini is putting the ‘country’ into its Countryman SUV by launching a new rooftop tent for its biggest offering. The Anglo-German automaker worked with the tent specialists at Autohome to create an OEM-quality product that is large enough to comfortably sleep two people. It attaches to the Countryman’s roof rails and, when stowed, appears as...

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Mini is putting the ‘country’ into its Countryman SUV by launching a new rooftop tent for its biggest offering. The Anglo-German automaker worked with the tent specialists at Autohome to create an OEM-quality product that is large enough to comfortably sleep two people. It attaches to the Countryman’s roof rails and, when stowed, appears as a traditional roof box that generates minimal wind resistance.

Once the tent box is installed, the tent can be deployed by releasing three safety clasps. There is no need to struggle with handles, poles, and ties – the tent automatically raises via its four gas struts.

Inside the rain-proof tent is a “high-density” mattress with cotton cover and a battery-powered LED light. There are two zippable windows, two doors, and interior storage in the form of wall-mounted pockets. Ingress and egress is easy – a stainless steel ladder is provided with the tent.

Unfortunately, this pop-top won’t be available in the U.S. market, so us Yanks will have to make do with sleeping on the cold, hard ground. Interested would-be campers outside of the U.S. should talk to their Mini dealership for pricing and availability.

2017 MINI Countryman AUTOHOME Roof Tent 20

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First Drive: 2017 Mini Countryman http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-mini-countryman-first-drive-review/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-mini-countryman-first-drive-review/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:00:32 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1135940 PORTLAND, Oregon — “Geez, this road is narrow,” I said to my co-driver Jeff as I put the Countryman’s left tires over the double yellow line. And then, with a glance in his direction: “Did I just say that? In a Mini?” Though it wasn’t obvious from Jeff’s reply (“Straight! Drive straight! Don’t look at...

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PORTLAND, Oregon — “Geez, this road is narrow,” I said to my co-driver Jeff as I put the Countryman’s left tires over the double yellow line. And then, with a glance in his direction: “Did I just say that? In a Mini?”

Though it wasn’t obvious from Jeff’s reply (“Straight! Drive straight! Don’t look at me, look at the damn road!”), I knew he agreed with what I was saying, just as I knew that his fearful cringe was a nonverbal acknowledgement that we’re driving the largest Mini ever and had nothing to do with his side of the car edging closer and closer to a solid concrete wall.

How big is the new 2017 Mini Countryman? Compared to its predecessor, it’s 8.1 inches longer (2.9” of that in the wheelbase) and almost an inch and a half wider. When you think about it, it makes sense that Mini would grow the Countryman: The first-gen version was introduced in 2011, before subcompact crossovers were a thing. Today, the market is crowded with players like the Audi Q3, Honda CR-V, and Jeep Renegade, and the new Countryman casts a similar-sized shadow.

2017 Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 side in motion 05

But, as I often told the people I dated, during my college days, size does not matter. What matters about this Mini — or any Mini, for that matter — is the way it drives. And the way it drives is pretty darn good, provided you pick the right engine.

The all-new Countryman is built on the same modular architecture as other Mini models and uses the same engines — specifically the 134-hp 1.5-liter turbo-three and the 189-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four. (A 228-hp John Cooper Works is in the works, as is a plug-in hybrid.) I’m partial to three-bangers — call it a quirk; that’d make you more charitable than most — and I quite like Mini’s in the hardtop Cooper. But the Countryman outweighs the little two-door by as much as half a ton and that puts a hurt on the engine’s 162 lb-ft of torque. If you’re a stick-shift aficionado who likes working the gears, there’s some fun to be had, especially if you enjoy the three-banger’s leisurely growl, but I often found myself with my foot to the floor waiting for a burst of high-RPM acceleration that never came.

If you go for a Countryman All4, you receive an eight-speed automatic that does a good job delivering power, but front-drive variants have to make do with a six-speed. For most buyers the best bet will be the four-cylinder-powered Countryman S. It accelerates like a Mini ought to in both manual and automatic guise, though, for reasons no one from Mini was able to adequately explain, the front-drive variant is automatic-only. EPA fuel economy estimates are similar for the two engines and I saw MPG in the high 20s from both.

Chassis behavior is what we want (and expect) from a Mini. The Countryman responds to steering commands like it has attention deficit disorder, eager to chase after whatever has distracted it, and the body maintains its composure no matter how quickly it’s being dragged in a new direction. The ride is very firm, though it does a decent job of filtering out all but the most severe impacts. It’s a big improvement over the outgoing Countryman, even if the new car isn’t quite as good at squeezing into narrow places.

To be fair to Mini, they’ve put the extra size to good use. Back-benchers benefit the most: There’s a surprising amount of legroom in the second row, even when the front seats are adjusted for taller drivers, and the standard-fit panoramic sunroof makes the cabin feel open and airy. Too bad about the seatbacks, though, which are firm and thinly padded — a reminder that this supposedly English Mini was designed by Germans.

Up front, the Countryman is a replay of Mini’s greatest hits, with a colorful center-mounted infotainment system (now with a new interface and touchscreen functionality to supplement the dial controller, but still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), a gauge pod that moves with the adjustable steering column, and those funky toggle-style switches. Material quality is excellent and the Countryman frames the driver’s view of the world in a short, rectangular windshield, just as a proper Mini ought to do.

Trunk space is a little shy at 17.6 cubic feet, but the boot is usefully shaped and free of obstructions. Mini says their customers value versatility, which the Countryman delivers with standard-fit 40/20/40 split-fold rear seatbacks, extra storage space under the trunk floor, and LATCH anchor points that are clearly marked and easy to use.

Mini has priced the new Countryman mid-way between blue-collar entrants like the HR-V and Renegade and luxury players like the Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. The entry-level Countryman lists for $26,950 (including destination), while the Countryman S All4 has a sticker price of $31,950. Those prices are before options, and this being a Mini, there are more extra-cost bits and bobs than the human mind can safely contemplate. Check too many boxes and you can easily get the Countryman well over $42,000. That’s a lot for a small crossover; for comparison, it takes a concerted effort to get the sticker price of a Mazda CX-5 too far above $30,000.

Mini expects the Countryman to appeal to urban and suburban dwellers who need the space of an SUV but don’t want to fuss about where to park it. That’s pretty much what the Countryman delivers — but then again, so does every single one of its competitors in this increasingly crowded segment. With the Mini no longer any more mini than its rivals — a point I had time to contemplate when the Countryman was unable to fit through what should have been a Mini-sized gap between a pickup and the curb, forcing me to wait to make my right turn like a commoner — all that’s left to differentiate the Countryman is style and price. We’ll have to see if buyers think the Countryman offers enough of the former to justify the latter.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $26,950
ENGINE 1.5L turbocharged DOHC 12-valve I-3/134 hp @ 4,400 rpm, 162 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm

2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/189 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 207 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm

TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD/AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 21-24/31-33 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 169.8 x 71.7 x 61.3 in
WHEELBASE 105.1 in
WEIGHT 3,300-3,671 lb
0-60 MPH 6.8-9.5 sec
TOP SPEED 122-137 mph

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Just Listed: 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S and 1971 Mini 1275 GT http://www.automobilemag.com/news/just-listed-1964-austin-mini-cooper-s-1971-mini-1275-gt/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/just-listed-1964-austin-mini-cooper-s-1971-mini-1275-gt/#respond Tue, 14 Feb 2017 03:02:56 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1110230 Sure, you might have the cash for a vintage car, but do you have the garage space? If you’re pinched for driveway real estate, Petrolicious has two wonderfully restored vintage Minis for sale, each offering a different snapshot of Mini’s history. Starting with the oldest and most expensive first, Petrolicious’ 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S...

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Sure, you might have the cash for a vintage car, but do you have the garage space? If you’re pinched for driveway real estate, Petrolicious has two wonderfully restored vintage Minis for sale, each offering a different snapshot of Mini’s history.

Starting with the oldest and most expensive first, Petrolicious’ 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S is about as pitch perfect as they come. Finished in a very light hue called Fiesta Yellow, the original 1,275cc engine is jumped up to 1,293cc along with a hotter camshaft, head, ignition system, carburetors, and a lightened flywheel.

Power is sent to the front wheels through the original and very rare four-speed manual transmission. To improve handling, the original rubber cone suspension was swapped out for a more traditional Koni dampers.

If you’re looking for the quintessential Mini experience, the 1964 Cooper S is yours for $40,000.

Too expensive for your blood? Check out the Bronze Yellow 1971 Mini 1275 GT offered by the same owner. This one is just $25,000, so it’s significantly more affordable than the ’64.

The later-year Mini isn’t as desirable as the ’64, but it still has buckets of tiny British charm behind the two round headlights. Like the other car, the 1275 GT’s 1,275cc four-cylinder is hopped-up to 1,293cc. Extra oompf comes from the exact same engine modifications as the older Cooper, right down to the lightened flywheel.

Head over to Petrolicious to pick up one (or both) of these classic Minis before they’re snapped up.

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First Look: 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-mini-john-cooper-works-countryman-all4-powerful-jcw-ever/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-mini-john-cooper-works-countryman-all4-powerful-jcw-ever/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2017 03:00:05 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1097648 Mini has unveiled the 2018 John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4, which will be the automaker’s most powerful model ever. Powered by a 2.0-liter direct-injected, turbocharged I-4, the 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 will churn out 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and an eight-speed automatic is optional....

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Mini has unveiled the 2018 John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4, which will be the automaker’s most powerful model ever.

Powered by a 2.0-liter direct-injected, turbocharged I-4, the 2018 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 will churn out 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and an eight-speed automatic is optional. As its name suggests, Mini‘s ALL4 all-wheel drive system is standard. Regardless of the transmission, Mini says the JCW Countryman ALL4 will run from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds, which is around 0.8 second quicker than the Cooper S Countryman ALL4 (189 hp and 207 lb-ft). Compared to the first-generation JCW Countryman ALL4, the new one is about 0.4 second quicker.

Mini says the manual gearbox includes “active engine speed adaptation” which is a fancy way of saying it has automatice downshift rev-matching. Meanwhile, opting for the automatic transmission nets paddle shifters and a launch control function.

Other performance upgrades include Brembo brakes, torque vectoring, an aero kit, active dampers, and stiffer suspension. Three driving modes (Sport, Mid, and Green) adjust throttle and engine note. For models equipped with the automatic transmission, the drive modes will also adjust shift behavior and have the capability of decoupling the drivetrain at speeds over 35 mph (in Green mode).

2018 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 interiro

The JCW Countryman ALL4 doesn’t skimp on luxury and tech goodies as well. Standard items include LED headlights, panorama moonroof, parking sensors, and Comfort Access keyless entry. Optional features include navigation, premium sound head-up display, and driver assistance tech like forward collision avoidance, active cruise control, and automatic parking assist.

Mini says the 2018 JCW Countryman ALL4 will debut this April at the Shanghai Motor Show. The sporty Mini should also arrive in U.S. showrooms around the same time.

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First Look: 2017 Mini Cooper Countryman http://www.automobilemag.com/news/first-look-2017-mini-cooper-countryman/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/first-look-2017-mini-cooper-countryman/#respond Wed, 16 Nov 2016 18:20:45 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1009271 No matter how many snarky Internet comments and social media posts are made, Mini’s model lineup will continue to grow in length, width, and height. Like the majority of small car manufacturers, Mini capitalized on the burgeoning SUV and crossover market with the release of the Countryman in 2010. The BMW-owned automaker intends to continue...

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No matter how many snarky Internet comments and social media posts are made, Mini’s model lineup will continue to grow in length, width, and height. Like the majority of small car manufacturers, Mini capitalized on the burgeoning SUV and crossover market with the release of the Countryman in 2010. The BMW-owned automaker intends to continue the trend by rolling out the all-new 2017 Mini Countryman, which will make its public debut next month at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show.

Unlike the minor refresh the Countryman received in 2014, this is a comprehensive redesign. Visually, the new SUV sheds the first generation’s “lifted hatchback” appearance and moves closer to a coherent crossover design. It’s 7.8 inches longer than the outgoing model, including a wheelbase stretch of 2.9 inches. To scale the appearance with the growth spurt, the Countryman wears bulging fender flares and sizeable wheels, moving well away from the first generation model’s tall and ungainly appearance.

Predictably, the available engine and transmissions are sampled from the rest of the Mini model lineup. Settle for the base drivetrain and you’ll receive a Countryman with the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder we’ve come to know and tolerate; output remains at 134 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, with power routed to the front two or all four wheels. Front-wheel drive models arrive with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, whereas the All4 all-wheel drive variants come with a choice of the manual or the slick eight-speed auto.

Springing for the Countryman Cooper S gets you a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 offering up 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. The Cooper S is only available with all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic.

Thanks to a curb weight hovering between 3,300 and 3,600 pounds, performance isn’t spectacular. The best 60 mph sprint the existing three-cylinder Mini Countryman can muster is 9.3 seconds in front-wheel-drive configuration and 9.5 seconds for the all-wheel-drive model. Climb up to the hotter Cooper S drivetrain, and 0-60 mph times drop to 7.0 seconds.

Despite the growth in external proportions, rear legroom shrinks by 0.7 in. The trade-off is that cargo capacity grows by 5.4 cubic feet, now swallowing 17.6 cubic feet; volume grows to 47.6 cubic feet when the rear seats are stowed. To maintain Mini’s trademark quirkiness, each Countryman arrives with a cushioned, foldable “picnic bench” stored in the rear storage area.

Mini purports the 2017 Countryman as a nicer place to be than the previous gen, with leatherette upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and a back-up camera coming as standard features. If you spend a little more coin for some technology packages, Mini installs an 8.8-inch touch-screen display that makes its debut on the crossover.

In addition to the regular powertrains, Mini pulled the covers off a production plug-in hybrid variant of the 2017 Countryman, which becomes Mini’s first hybrid and its first electrified vehicle to enter series production (only several hundred units of 2009’s Mini E were made). Bearing the easy-to-digest moniker of Countryman Cooper S E All4, it uses the base model’s 1.5-liter I-3 to power to the front wheels and an electric motor fed by a 7.6 kWh battery to power the rear. Combined power is an impressive 221 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque.

Mini says that the PHEV Countryman will cover 24 miles on the battery alone with a maximum speed of 77 mph. Thanks to the ample torque, 0-60 mph arrives in a quick 6.8 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 137 mph.

Mini has not released pricing information on the new Countryman, but confirms the regular SUV will arrive on dealer lots in March of 2017, with the plug-in made available from June 2017. Check back for more information on Mini’s newest SUV at the official debut next month at the LA auto show.

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman

ON SALE: Spring 2017

PRICE: $26,000 (base) (est)

ENGINE: 1.5L turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3/134 hp @ 4,400 rpm, 162 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm; 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/189 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 207 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm; and 1.5L turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3/134 hp @ 4,400 rpm, 162 lb-ft @ 1,250 rpm plus electric DC motor/87 hp, 122 lb-ft; combined 221 hp

TRANSMISSION: 6-, 8-speed automatic, 6-speed manual

LAYOUT: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD/AWD SUV

EPA MILEAGE: N/A

L x W x H: 169.8 x 71.7 x 61.3 in

WHEELBASE: 105.1 in

WEIGHT: 3,300-3,671 lb

0-60 MPH: 6.8-9.5 sec

TOP SPEED: 122-137 mph

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2017 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works Makes 228 HP http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-mini-clubman-john-cooper-works-delivers-228-hp/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-mini-clubman-john-cooper-works-delivers-228-hp/#respond Tue, 20 Sep 2016 22:00:25 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=992848 Mini has unveiled a more powerful version of its Clubman hatchback. The 2017 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works goes on sale in the U.S. this December. Paired with standard all-wheel drive, the Clubman JCW delivers 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder. That might not sound like a whole lot...

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Mini has unveiled a more powerful version of its Clubman hatchback. The 2017 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works goes on sale in the U.S. this December.

Paired with standard all-wheel drive, the Clubman JCW delivers 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder. That might not sound like a whole lot of juice, but it’s 39 more hp than the Cooper S and 94 more hp than the base model. Zero to 60 is estimated to take 6 seconds whether you opt for the six-speed manual or the eight-speed auto. Compare that to Mini’s estimate of 6.6 seconds for the 2016 S Clubman ALL4.

2017 Mini Clubman John Cooper Works rear interior seats

The performance-oriented Clubman benefits from a sport exhaust, Brembo brakes, a JCW sport suspension, and an aero body kit with enhanced engine and brake cooling. Improving the car’s center of gravity, the Clubman JCW also sits 0.4 inch lower to the ground. Black 18-inch JCW wheels complete the look.

Options on the Mini Clubman JCW are limitless, and include an exclusive Rebel Green paint job and sport stripes. Inside the cabin, the model offers black Dinamica/fabric sport seats, optional leather seats with red accenting, a head-up display, illuminated trim near the interior door handles, and welcome exterior lighting.

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Spied: Mini Countryman Spotted Testing in Germany http://www.automobilemag.com/news/spied-mini-countryman-spotted-testing-germany/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/spied-mini-countryman-spotted-testing-germany/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=989012 A prototype for the upcoming second-generation Mini Countryman has been spotted in Germany. From theses spy shots, the camouflaged crossover appears larger than the current model. Based on these photos, the upcoming Countryman should be both wider and longer than the outgoing model including the hood and rear overhang. Although the current Countryman is the...

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A prototype for the upcoming second-generation Mini Countryman has been spotted in Germany. From theses spy shots, the camouflaged crossover appears larger than the current model.

Based on these photos, the upcoming Countryman should be both wider and longer than the outgoing model including the hood and rear overhang. Although the current Countryman is the roomiest Mini variant, the larger dimensions should add up to increased interior and cargo space.

Powertrain options for the new model should mimic those of other current Mini models including a turbocharged 1.5-liter I-3 and a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4. Additionally, the upcoming Mini Countryman is expected to feature a plug-in hybrid variant combining a 136-hp three-cylinder engine up front and a 102-hp electric motor powering the rear wheels. Total system output is expected to be around 240 hp.

That same hybrid powertrain will also be used in the BMW X1 crossover, which shares its chassis with the next-generation Countryman. A John Cooper Works model is also expected at some point.

Though Mini hasn’t announced when the Countryman will officially be revealed, we expect it to debut at either the Paris Motor Show in a few weeks or the Geneva show next March.

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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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