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It says a lot about the creations that come from MINI, when the British automaker presents their “Cowley Caravan and Swindon Roof Top Tent” and we’re not sure if it’s an elaborate April Fools Joke or if it’s serious, as it was released on April 1st.
Essentially camping accessories for your MINI model, the Cowley Caravan can be color-coordinated to your vehicle and provides a getaway for two people. It comes with a twin-burner gas stove, a water tank, a refrigerator, stereo system, and TV/DVD player, with all of it powered by a solar panel that charges the onboard battery for the 230-volt power connector.
The Swindon tent on the other hand, is a collapsible box that fits on top of your MINI, MINI Clubman, or MINI Countryman. Once the box is open, there’s enough room for two people (barely) and according to MINI “the roof-top tent works a treat, whether the location for your beauty sleep is the English shires or the foothills of Kilimanjaro.” Descriptions like that make us really think this is a nicely done April Fools joke.
If indeed it’s all a joke, it’s a very nicely executed one. MINI went through a lot of work to make these concepts real and to shoot it all in a studio with color-matching models? Who knows, maybe they’re onto something!
GALLERY: MINI Cowley Caravan and Swindon Roof Top Tent
The MINI Countryman aims to incorporate the classic MINI look and style and take it off road, and what better way to show off the cars capabilitites than getting out on a frozen lake for some sideways fun.
MINI and Red Bull have a history of marketing campaigns together, and in this newest video, the guys from the Red Bull Crashed Ice downhill skate racing series decide to practice some techniques while in tow behind the Countryman.
The Countryman looks great going sideways, and there are even some good wipe outs in the video, what more can you ask for?
Watch the MINI Countryman with the Red Bull Crashed Ice skaters in the video below.
Earlier this year, we alluded to the fact that the MINI Paceman Concept would hit dealerships as the Countryman Coupe and it looks like that will be made official when the vehicle debuts at this year’s Paris Auto Show.
It all makes sense that MINI would put the Countryman name onto their two-door Paceman Concept considering the production vehicle will share the same front end. It also appears that the Paceman Concept will closely resemble the final production Countryman Coupe and it is still on schedule to hit dealerships in 2013, as a 2014 model.
Unfortunately there is still no confirmation on what will power the new Countryman Coupe, but the Paceman Concept did sport a John Cooper Works-built 1.6L twin-turbocharged engine sporting 211-hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. The Countryman Coupe should make a nice addition to MINI’s lineup.
GALLERY: MINI Paceman Concept
[Source: Car and Driver]
And now the MINI JCW Countryman has been placed into the British automaker’s ad-churning machine, spitting out an “Expect the Unexpected” video that showcases the Countryman’s versatility as it tears through desert and snow. Watching the JWC Countryman in action through contrasting weather conditions proves that it won’t be a one-trick pony with its ALL4 all-wheel drive system.
The JCW Countryman can have either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, 18- or 19-inch wheels while sporting special front and rear bumpers.
The JCW Countryman will hit the European market in the first half of this year and will approach American shores after the summer. Pricing on the sporty model still hasn’t been announced, but we expect it to be in the mid-$30,000 range.
Watch the “expect the unexpected” video for the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman below.
MINI‘s boss in the United States recently confirmed in an interview that the Countryman Coupe will be available on the US market in the first quarter of 2013.
Originally debuted in the form of the Paceman Concept at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, the Countryman Coupe should take on the Land Rover Evoque and is expected to boost MINI sales significantly. It’s expected that the Countryman Coupe will make its debut sometime in September, perhaps at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.
The Paceman Concept was powered by a John Cooper Works-built 1.6L twin-turbocharged engine with 211-hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. An Overboost function allowed the torque to peak at 207 lb-ft for a short period of time.
GALLERY: MINI Paceman Concept
[Source: 4 Wheels News]
MINI‘s JCW Countryman took a bow in Austria, revealing the next generation of high-performance John Cooper Works variants. No specific details have been released on the new JCW Countryman, but rumor has it the 1.6-liter turbocharged powerplant will have at least 215-hp, while the suspension has been tuned with stiffer spring rates and lower the vehicle 0.40-inch.
Larger sway bars in the front and the rear, along with a brake upgrade will also outfit the JCW Countryman. The prototype (pictured above) doesn’t completely reveal the finished product, but it’s clear that JCW’s variant of the Countryman gets some major styling upgrades including a new grille, front bumper, wide wheel arches, rear bumper with diffuser with integrated dual exhausts.
MINI has announced it will hold a press conference at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January and so the world premiere of this model is a possibility.
GALLERY: MINI JCW Countryman
You’ll be fighting with your kids on who gets to use the MINI Cooper Convertible Inflatable beach toys next. One of the coolest promotional items we’ve seen in a while, these bad boys go from the sand to the water with the top down.
Created by Access Agency after the unveiling of the MINI Indoor Drive-in cinema for the new Countryman in Italy, these inflatables look like they may be a bit too big for the pool, but perfect for lounging on the beach and water. We’d like to pull one behind a boat for some MINI tubing, and we’re pretty sure we’d draw more than a few looks from impressed (and envious) beach goers.
The beach toys are a great way for MINI to get across that they are a fun, cool brand. No word if they’ll be floating over to North America anytime soon, but if they do, you’ll find us lounging around and soaking up the sun (after a full day of blogging, of course).
What’s the coolest automotive brand promotional item you’ve ever seen or received? Let us know in the comments section below.
With Fiat’s backing, Jeep is building a small crossover that takes direct aim at MINI’s Countryman. Will it still be Trail Rated?
Because the Patriot and Compass weren’t, which must have been hard for Jeep to resist slapping them with “Trail Rated” badges. This crossover will be even smaller than those two, based on a Fiat platform but developed out of Detroit.
The internal designation for the crossover is “SS,” which, according to Chrysler, stands for “super sport” and not what you think it does. Like the Compass and Patriot, it will start with front-drive and have the option of AWD, with a simple torsion-beam rear suspension and electronic braking for traction control.
A spate of Fiat motors will be available: the 1.4-liter Multiair unit from the Fiat 500, which may use turbocharging to get the heavier crossover going. In Europe, it will make do with an 875cc two-cylinder with 100 horsepower; in America, it’ll probably have 150 horsepower instead. And attached to this will be Chrysler’s new automatic gearbox with nine speeds; just in case you wanted to one-up your Porsche-driving neighbors in any way possible.
The mini-Jeepster will come by 2013, at the earliest. And as the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle in Jeep’s lineup, it should fare well against the Countryman and keep any manufacturer-average emissions regulations at bay.
[Source: Car And Driver]
The MINI Countryman was originally offered with a 2+2 configuration that made it somewhat impractical for a significant portion of potential buyers, who need the fifth seat for whatever reason.
MINI eventually decided to offer a fifth seat option in Europe, but has now decided that North Americans can have the option of a middle seat as well, a move that will no doubt open up the Countryman to a new demographic, and allow MINI to charge more money. Look for the fifth seat option to become available starting in September.
While Audi’s plans for the U.S. market originally did not include the compact Q3 crossover, but Audi is re-considering the decision to not import the car after seeing the segment expand with offerings like the MINI Countryman, BMW X1 and the Nissan Juke.
While the Q5 starts at $35,200, Audi would likely have to price it closer to the MINI Countryman which retails between $21,650 and $26,950. A sub-$30,000 price tag might be uncomfortable for Audi and its positioning as a premium brand, but with the small crossover segment growing, it could be a chance for Audi to increase their overall volume in North America.
The Q3 would likely be powered by the corporate 2.0T engine, with the possibility of a 2.0L TDI diesel engine as well. The diesel offering could allow the Q3 to stake out a niche within the segment, and remain consistent with Audi’s overall diesel strategy.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
It’s been 40-some odd years, but Mini is finally returning to the world rally stage.
The Mini WRC Team will be competing in the 2011 World Rally Championship with the John Cooper Works Countryman, as modified by legendary performance company Prodrive. The team was recently launched in its factory in Oxford in a nostalgia-laden gala that saw Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen show up in the Mini Cooper S that won them three rally championships in 1964, 1965, and 1967.
“On the one hand, MINI can look back on a unique success story,” said Ian Robertson, a member of BMW’s board of management. “On the other hand, MINI is the epitome of excitement for millions of fans around the world and thrills them with its energy. This is precisely what we are able to authentically represent through our motorsport involvement in the World Rally Championship.”
This year’s drivers and navigators in the Countryman will be Kris Meeke of England and Paul Nagle of Ireland, and Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, from Spain. Their first race will be at Rally d’Italia Sardegna from May 5th to the 8th, and they will enter five more races in the season.
While it wasn’t the MINI Countryman WRC that did it, the brand still captured their first ever rally victory, with an S2000-class MINI John Cooper Works finishing first in the Rally dell’Adriatico.
The privateer team, known as Grifone, is campaigning the car in a regional rally series that adheres to the rules of the S2000 class. These are much closer to what one can drive on the street, and are also eligible for road racing series in Europe. The win will certainly give the brand a boost ahead of the Countryman WRC’s debut next week, and its first race in Sardinia in May.
A MINI Cooper S fitted with an experimental hybrid all-wheel drive system was spotted testing in winter climates, a surprise move for BMW, which has given no indication it was developing such a car.
Sharp-eyed readers will not the electric motor mounted between the rear wheels, as well as the “hybrid” stickers mounted on the vehicle. A traditional gas engine provides power to the front wheels.
Considering MINI has their All4 AWD system already, it could become superfluous if the hybrid AWD setup becomes a fixture during the 2013 revamp of MINI’s lineup. With BMW developing hybrid technology in collaboration with Peugeot and Citroen, the cost of such a system would be spread across a large number of models, and thus make it an affordable option for MINI cars.
The MINI Countryman currently seats four, plus a whole lot of cupholders. But due to consumer demand, a rear bench option will be coming to America as early as July.
The four-seater will be standard, but the bench seat will be an additional option. Current Countryman owners looking to squeeze their fellow countryman into the middle seat for their White Castle runs can order a retrofit straight from the factory.
To be honest, we’ll be truly impressed when we can get a bench seat for the front.
Purists may scoff at the 4-door MINI Countryman and its betrayal of “brand values”, but BMW’s bean counters are laughing all the way to the bank as the company credits the newest MINI with helping profits surge 15-fold in 2010. BMW’s net income was recorded at 3.23 billion euros in 2010, up from 210 million euros in 2009.
BMW also credited increased demand for the 5-Series, particularly in China, as well as the new X1 crossover. The launch of the re-designed X3 and 6-Series should help BMW deliver a record 1.5 million vehicles in 2011.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the Mini Countryman its “2011 Top Safety Pick,” the first Mini to do so.
The sort-of-SUV received “Good” ratings in front, side, rollover, and rear impact protection, ensuring that owners won’t get beat up if they ever take theirs rally racing. The Countryman comes with electronic stability control standard and was able to take 5 times its own weight on the roof, while federal standards only need 1.5 times weight.
Click the jump for the full press release from Mini.
With the positive reception given to the very compact MINI Rocketman concept at this year’s Geneva Auto Show, MINI execs have given indications that the car will be produced sometime in the near future.
“We are good at looking at history and interpreting a future for it,” MINI sales and marketing chief Kevin Robertson told Autocar, noting that most MINIs end up making it from concept to production. While the Rocketman is supposed to provide visual cues as to MINI’s future styling direction, the underlying technology behind the Rocketman will also play a significant role in the brand’s future.
“The themes in the car are not just about a smaller Mini,” said Robertson. “Lightweight construction, and new types of components will go on to Minis. The BMW i-concept will be available to all members of the group.”
But with MINI USA head Jim McDowell telling AutoGuide that no larger or smaller MINIs were slated for America outside of the current lineup, it’s possible that we won’t see the Rocketman on our roads at all.
Diesel hot hatches have always been a bit of an oddity – one would think that a big, heavy diesel engine would throw off the superb balance and lightweight that are the hallmarks of most front-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks, but the MINI Cooper SD is one diesel hot hatch that deserves the benefit of the doubt after seeing it at the Geneva Auto Show.
While the regular Cooper S isn’t quite a featherweight, the car’s reflexes would have you believe that it weighs as much as an empty coffee cup. While the 2.0L turbo diesel only puts out 143 horsepower, its 225 lb-ft of torque is greater than even a tuned-to-the-gills Cooper S JCW’s output, giving the car plenty of useable power in the lower end of the rev range.
MINI claims a 0-60 sprint of between 8.1 seconds for a Cooper SD to 9.4 seconds for a Countryman SD. Even more astonishing are the fuel economy figures – anywhere from 57.6 mpg to 65 mpg (on the European cycle). To put that in perspective, you can theoretically return Prius-like economy with a small performance trade-off.
Gallery: MINI Cooper SD and Countryman SD
With a huge gulf existing between the road-going version of the MINI Countryman and the WRC-ready version, a halo version that could bridge the gap between urban crossover and full-blown race car could be an asset for MINI, and help them leverage some of the image boost that their rally program will provide, especially in parts of the world where WRC is a popular motorsport.
At this point, the idea of a hardcore Countryman is just a rumor, but the it’s not hard to imagine a pumped up Countryman, perhaps with some tweaks courtesy of a JCW upgrade package, more macho bodywork and big wheels. So far, a concept is supposedly planned for.
As gas prices to rise and automakers develop more fuel efficient vehicles, spurred on by CAFE requirements, all kinds of new developments are underway.
At MINI, one proposal is to bring a diesel version of the Cooper S across the pond, powered by BMW’s 141 hp 2.0-liter oil burning four. However, stricter emissions requirements, mandating the need for Urea injection, soon nixed the idea on the grounds of cost.
Now, it would appear that instead, future U.S. bound MINI will get a line of 1.5-liter three-cylinder engines and possibly a plug-in hybrid powertrain. As far the latter is concerned, MINI will partner up with Getrag to produce it and this will likely be a plug-in system, designed to extend the vehicle’s range on electric power alone.
According to Bimmerfile.com, if it does materialize at all, the hybrid driveline will be relegated MINI’s larger models, such as the Countryman (shown above), where the benefits of hybrid technology will likely reap the greatest rewards in terms of fuel economy savings. The hybrid driveline will also probably be shared with BMW‘s smaller SUVs, such as the X1 and possibly the X3 to maximize return on development costs.
If you’re in Toronto and wanted to get into the holiday spirit, MINI Canada and their happy elves made the trip downtown to let people know they were in the giving mood. In fact, they still are, and want to give you one of three all-new gift-wrapped MINI Countryman models.
MINI and eight happy elves took to the streets of Toronto recently to make some new friends. This was done to promote MINI’s Facebook contest, where fans are invited to see how many friends they can virtually fit into the all-new MINI Countryman (coming to Canada in January 2011).
The contest runs until December 30th and the winner will be announced on January 12th.
“Bringing our virtual contest live to the streets of Toronto lets us interact with our customers and fans in a hands-on and engaging way,” said John Cappella, Director, MINI Canada. “That is what MINI is all about – being extroverted and socially energetic. Our Facebook contest is the epitome of that desire to interact; taking it to the streets is the proof of our energy.”
If you didn’t get a chance to see the elves in action, you can see the pictures and video on MINI Canada’s Facebook page. If you want to enter the contest, visit www.facebook.com/MINI.canada.
German firm X-Raid is already preparing a MINI Countryman, a vehicle that’s been on sale for less than a month, for competition in the upcoming Dakar rally.
While most of the photos show a finished product, the vehicle prep shots show a pretty thorough re-working of the biggest MINI, as well as a gorgeous custom made rollcage. Sadly, specifications aren’t part of the article, and we’re left guessing on how much power the thing makes. A long travel suspension and skid plates are also visible to the naked eye.
Gallery: MINI Countryman Dakar