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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jul 04 2011, 11:37 AM

With their army behind them, KISS is a force to be reckoned with. And when it came to helping out Japan after the earthquake and tsunami, the band partnered with MINI USA to raise money for this worthy cause.

This uber-cool pairing raised $129,000 during eBay online charity auction, where bidders were after four custom-painted and autographed MINI Countryman vehicles. All that cash will be donated to UNICEF so it gets not only to Japan, but also to other countries around the world.

Up for auction were four custom-painted vehicles on the 2011 MINI Countryman. Each of the four KISS members were immortalized, showcasing the iconic makeup and costume association that has made the band famous.

If you missed out on your chance to bid on one of these beauties, you can still buy a KISS vehicle wrap through www.MINIUSA.COM/KISS or local MINI dealerships, and these proceeds will go to help those in need. All of the MINIs are autographed by all four members of KISS and have become instant collector’s items.

“The KISS MINIs are rare one-of-a-kind collector’s items and KISS salutes the winners of the auction,” said Gene Simmons. “The new owners have the satisfaction of knowing that they not only have an instant investment that will keep growing in value, but every time they look at the car, they’ll also be reminded that the real value is knowing that their dollars helped children in the greatest need.”

The eBay auction winners are located in North Carolina, Oregon, and Massachusetts, so if you live in those areas, be on the lookout for these cool KISS MINIs.

 |  Jun 02 2011, 12:11 PM

As if KISS action figures and PEZ dispensers are not enough, the band has branded MINI Countrymen, although for a good cause. MINI teamed up with the quartet to customize the countryman for charity. All four band members have applied their trademark style to the exterior of the 2011 Minis.

These vehicles debuted at the New York Auto Show and can be found on eBay Motors, with proceeds being donated to UNICEF. UNICEF will use the money for children affected by the March 11 Japan disasters.

Interestingly, the Mini’s are not wearing decals, but paint put on by a group of BMW employees. Each Countryman has been named after the members of KISS: Starchild, The Demon, Spaceman and Catman.

MINI Countryman Set to get U.S. Debut in New York

Countryman expected to be most fuel efficient crossover in North America

 |  Mar 22 2010, 2:34 PM

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After its world premiere at the Geneva Auto Show just a few weeks back, MINI will show its Countryman crossover for the first time on U.S. soil at the New York Auto Show on April 1st. The very first crossover from the brand, MINI expects this four-seater to be the most fuel efficient crossover in the U.S.

Looking still very much like a MINI, the British brand promises the sort of handling you’d expect from a MINI, but with added functionality. The Countryman will also be the first MINI to come with an optional all-wheel drive system – called ALL4. Four seats are standard, but a three-seat bench will be offered at no charge. But knowing MINI, the rear will probably be close-quarters for even just two. MINI says the Countryman has a storage capacity of 12.2 to 41.0 cubic feet.

A MINI Cooper Countryman model will be the standard choice, while a top-level MINI Cooper S Countryman option will have a 1.6L turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection and fully variable valve arrangement, claiming 184-hp.

We’ll be sure to bring you more on this exciting crossover (the only compact crossover to offer AWD and a manual transmission) with live coverage of the NY Auto Show starting March 31st.

GALLERY: MINI Countryman Crossover

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 |  Mar 01 2010, 9:38 AM

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MINI was supposed to introduce its new Countryman at the Geneva Auto Show but leaked photos of the crossover forced the company to release pictures and details in January.

Today, at the Geneva Auto Show, MINI had the Cooper  and Cooper S Countryman models on display as it prepares for the official unveiling tomorrow.

We’ve got pictures of the Countryman, beneath a pair of oversized hats that will will later be lowered to cover the crossover until the unveiling tomorrow.

We already know the MINI Countryman will come standard with four seats arranged around a front-to-back center rail. An optional three-seat bench will be available at no additional cost. MINI says the Countryman has a storage capacity of 12.2 to 41.0 cubic feet, depending on how the seats are set up.

The Cooper S version (the white model in the photos) will have a 184hp turbocharged 1.6L engine with direct fuel injection and fully variable valve arrangement.

We’ll have more when MINI takes the hats off of the Countryman tomorrow.

Gallery: 2011 MINI Countryman

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 |  Feb 24 2010, 11:23 AM

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The marketing experts behind the MINI brand have stuck again with another commercial that you’ll want to watch. In fact, you’ll probably watch it a few times and search for the song on iTunes to download for your iPod. Yup, it’s cool.

The video doesn’t really tell you anything about the car, but it’s plenty of fun to watch, highlighting the car’s functionality (able to hold dozens of pineapples), to its passenger room (with space for baby seats). Plus, there’s plenty of active shots of off-roading from dirt to snow, to highlight the new ALL4 all-wheel drive system, as well as some more accurate video of urban settings – considering most MINIs (or any crossover for that matter), isn’t likely to see more than a puddle.

 |  Jan 25 2010, 4:22 PM

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MINI has just release two videos showing its upcoming Countryman crossover in action. The 2011 MINI Countryman (the car may take on other names in other markets) becomes the fourth model in the MINI family and the first with four doors. Despite the foray into the crossover segment, the Countryman retains signature MINI design elements, only on a larger vehicle. Key characteristics such as the roofline, grille and wheel arches remind us the Countryman is still very much a MINI.

The MINI Countryman will come standard with four seats arranged around a front-to-back center rail. An optional three-seat bench available at no additional cost. Depending on how the seats are adjusted, MINI says the Countryman has a storage capacity of 12.2 to 41.0 cubic feet.

MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system will be available as an option on both the Cooper S and Cooper D Countryman. The ALL4 system provides half of the engine’s power to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions but when needed, can transfer 100% of the power to the rear for added traction.

MINI will offer three gasoline and two diesel engine options, though only the gasoline engines are likely to make it over to North America. The base MINI One D Countryman will have a 90 hp four-cylinder turbodiesel engine while the top-level MINI Cooper S Countryman option will have a 1.6L turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection and fully variable valve arrangement, claiming 184 hp. All models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission while the gasoline engine models will be available with a Steptronic six-speed automatic transmission.

GALLERY: MINI Countryman

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See more video of the MINI Countryman after the jump:

Continue Reading…

 |  Jan 20 2010, 11:38 AM

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A day after pictures of its new crossover were leaked out to the web, MINI has officially released details and photographs of the 2011 MINI Countryman. Originally scheduled to be unveiled at next month’s Geneva Auto Show, the Countryman was originally supposed appear at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show but was unfortunately delayed. It is a little ironic then that MINI was forced to move ahead with its announcement after yesterday’s leak.

The 2011 MINI Countryman (the car may take on other names in other markets) becomes the fourth model in the MINI family, the first with four doors and a widened rear door. Despite the foray into the crossover segment, the Countryman retains signature MINI design elements, only on a larger vehicle. Key characteristics such as the roofline, grille and wheel arches remind us the Countryman is still very much a MINI.

The MINI Countryman will come standard with four seats arranged around a front-to-back center rail. An optional three-seat bench available at no additional cost. Depending on how the seats are adjusted, MINI says the Countrymanhas a storage capacity of 12.2 to 41.0 cubic feet.

MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system will be available as an option on both the Cooper S and Cooper D Countryman. The ALL4 system provides half of the engine’s power to the rear wheels under normal driving conditions but when needed, can transfer 100% of the power to the rear for added traction.

MINI will offer three gasoline and two diesel engine options, though only the gasoline engines are likely to make it over to North America. The base MINI One D Countryman will have a 90 hp four-cylinder turbodiesel engine while the top-level MINI Cooper S Countryman option will have a 1.6L turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection and fully variable valve arrangement, claiming 184 hp. All models come standard with a six-speed manual transmission while the gasoline engine models will be available with a Steptronic six-speed automatic transmission.

We’ll bring you more on the all-new MINI Countryman with live coverage of the Geneva Auto Show starting March 1st.

Click here for AutoGuide’s live 2010 Geneva Auto Show coverage starting Monday, March 1st.

Gallery: 2011 MINI Countryman

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…

Leaked: MINI Countryman Official Photos Slip Out Ahead of Debut

Countryman crossover expected to officially bow at Geneva Auto Show in March

 |  Jan 19 2010, 12:52 PM

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Ahead of its expected debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March, these photos of MINI’s first crossover have leaked onto the net. With an undeniable MINI look, the photos also show the ALL4 badge, indicating MINI’s new AWD system – a first for the brand.

Show in concept form at the Paris Auto Show in 2008, MINI recently displayed the Beachcomber Concept at the Detroit Auto Show, which used the same platform as the Countryman and gave a real look at the production model’s size.

MINI has promised sporty driving dynamics as well as comfortable seating for four. As for the interior, the latest MINI model keeps true to the MINI roots with centrally-mounted speedometer and plenty of toggle switches. Along with the Countryman, MINI has announced that the Coupe and Convertible concepts will see production in the near future.

We expect MINI to announce official details in the coming weeks and we’ll be sure to bring you full coverage from the Geneva Auto Show starting March 2nd.

GALLERY: MINI Countryman

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[Source: WorldCarFans]

See after the jump for a typically strange teaser video

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 |  Jan 11 2010, 3:19 PM

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MINI’s new Countryman crossover hasn’t even officially debuted and yet the creative minds at the fun British car company have already turned the platform into a new concept: the MINI Beachcomber Concept.

Based on the Countryman’s platform, the MINI Beachcomber Concept takes the crossover’s capable ALL4 all-wheel drive system and sets it free on the sand-dunes with a dune-buggy style, plus the open air Jeep-like feeling of no doors or roof.

The concept also takes cues from the original MINI Moke, especially the lack of sheetmetal and the radiator style grille.

MINI won’t comment on production possibilities, but even if it does make it to market, it won’t be for a while. The Countryman crossover is set to debut first. MINI has promised more news on that new model in a month’s time, with the vehicle’s official on-sale date set for late 2010 in Europe and early 2011 in the U.S.

GALLERY: MINI Beachcomber Concept Debut in Detroit

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 |  Nov 12 2009, 12:13 PM

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MINI’s upcoming Countryman crossover just can’t catch a break. The launch of the vehicle has been delayed several times (the most recent being a push-back from the Frankfurt to Geneva auto shows), and now reports suggest the crossover might not debut in the U.S. until early 2011.

The well-connected folks at MotoringFile are reporting that while the vehicle is essentially completed, the folks at MINI (and its parent company, BMW) are skittish about launching the new vehicle in a less than favorable economic climate. While things do appear to be improving, the automaker is still contemplating a delay in the Countryman’s launch.

The report isn’t all bad news, however, as there’s some new info about the car. It will be available as both a four-seater and as a five-seater with the choice of either a 1.6-liter gasoline engine or a 2.0-liter diesel BMW engine.  On top of this, there’s the exciting news that the John Cooper Works department will release two JCW models: the first being a standard JCW-type car, while the second will feature AWD, more power and a lighter curb weight.

Again, MINI doing a crossover seems like a bad idea, but we’re sure if anyone can make the dull utility segment fun, it’s MINI. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait too much longer to find out.

[Source: MotoringFile]

Report: MINI Countryman Crossover Delayed Again

Next MINI vehicle likely not due out until Geneva Auto Show in March

 |  Oct 26 2009, 9:25 AM

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Originally expected to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, it appears as though those waiting to get their hands on MINI’s new Countryman crossover will have to wait a little longer… again. After the Frankfurt delay it was expected the CUV would appear at the next major auto show: Detroit. Now word comes that instead of being unveiled on U.S. soil in January, the Countryman won’t appear until the Geneva Auto Show in March.

The reason for the holdup has to do with MINI’s parent company. BMW has contracted Magna Steyr to build the Countryman in Austria, but that plant is currently the location where the BMW X3 is built. As an incredibly profitable vehicle for BMW (and apparently still a reasonably high volume seller) BMW is loathe to hault production before it starts building the new X3 in the U.S.

So in order to squeeze ever last cent out of the original X3, BMW is delaying the Countryman.

Word of this development comes from the MINI-freaks at MotoringFile, who have also learned that the Countryman will come with a banded AWD line, much like BMW’s xDrive, which will be called All4.

[Source: MotoringFile]

 |  Jul 17 2009, 11:02 AM

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Recent patent filings from BMW may have uncovered the name of the upcoming crossover belonging to the German automaker’s MINI brand. Speculation previously had the model named the Crossman, a clever play on the fact that it’s a crossover and that the latest MINI model is called the Clubman. The name BMW has registered for, however, is the Countryman.

Little is known about the Countryman, although it has been spied several times testing in both Europe and California, where two different models were spotted driving together in the desert. Due to the different front-ends on both of the tiny SUVs, it’s likely one was sporting a turbocharged motor, in keeping with the MINI product line of offering a base “Cooper” model and then a more powerful “S” model.

Whether MINI will risk selling a high-performance John Cooper works version of the Countryman remains to be seen.

The MINI Countryman is expected to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show this September.

[Source: GermanCarZone]