AutoGuide News Blog
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.
Free Runners from around the world converged in Detroit last weekend to compete in the MINI-sponsored Red Bull Art of Motion competition. This international free-running competition has been held in cities around the world, and the event in Detroit was the only US stop, as well as the final one, for the 2011 series.
This hot sport is currently a YouTube favorite. Basically, a Free Runner’s goal is to complete a course in an urban setting that’s filled with obstacles of all kinds with as much creativity, style and skill as possible. It’s cool to watch these athletes defy gravity as they leap gorges between buildings and obstacles in awe-inspiring and gasp-inducing feats of lightness. MINI got in on the action, and the all-new MINI Coupe was part of the obstacle course at Russell Industrial Center, while a MINI Clubman was one of many obstacles at Detroit’s Hart Plaza during the final round. Free Runners flipped, vaulted and rolled their way over these cars during their routines in this competition.
Video of the competition after the jump
Looking expectantly similar to the hardtop hatch, the Coupe is distinguished by its trademark roof, which is style to look like a backwards ball cap. It also gains an active rear spoiler that deploys at speeds above 50 mph. Plus, JCW models gain an aggressive aero kit. Oddly, despite its name, the Coupe still opens in the back like a hatch.
With dimensions essentially the same as the hard top, the Coupe also shares its powertrains with a Cooper Coupe using the a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder making 121-hp and delivering a 8.3 second 0-60 mph time. The Cooper S Coupe gets a turbocharged 1.6 to deliver 181-hp with a 6.6 second 0-60 time. Topping out the range is the 208-hp JCW model, with a 6.1 second 0-60 time, making it the fastest production MINI ever.
Look for the MINI Coupe to get its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, with our first drive shortly after.
GALLERY: MINI Coupe
The latest flavor of Cooper to join the MINI lineup is the all new Coupe. Yet another variant of the similarly styled Brit-car, this two-door forgets about even trying to have rear seats instead trading them for a small cargo shelf and a fixed rear wall.
With a more distinctive coupe profile the new model’s rear liftgate opens more like a hatchback and there is a rear passthrough for larger items. Easily the car’s most distinguishing feature is its roof which resembles a backwards baseball cap. Another major design piece that’s also a performance addition is an active rear spoiler that pops up at 50 mph and drops back to sit flush on the rear deck below 37 mph. John Cooper Works models (shown) can be distinguished by more aggressive aero package.
While unique chassis tuning is a part of the package, the car’s overall dimensions are much the same as the standard hard-top MINIs; as are the engines. Powering the base Cooper Coupe is the brand’s 1.6-liter 4-cylinder making 121-hp at 6000 rpm and 118 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm, delivering a 8.3 second 0-60 mph time. The Cooper S Coupe gets a turbocharger added to the mix to deliver 181-hp at 5500 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm and with a special overboost function will bring on 192 lb-ft. MINI claims a 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds.
As for the gotta-have-it John Cooper Works model, it delivers a peak 208-hp at 6000 rpm and 192 lb-ft of torque at 1850 rpm, with overboost upping that number to 207 lb-ft. Edging ever-so-close to the 5 second range, this is the fastest MINI ever and will hit 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds.
Acceleration numbers for the base Cooper and the top-trim JCW are a 10th of a second faster than their hard-top counterparts, likely due to a reduced curb weight – although MINI has yet to release those figures. Tossing the extra pounds is sure to help in adding performance on all levels, while the fixed rear divider is also likely to improve the chassis rigidity, thus improving performance further. We’ll find that out later this year when we first get behind the wheel of the new MINI Coupe.
GALLLERY: 2012 MINI Cooper Coupe JCW
A sharp-eyed AutoGuide reader spotted the 2012 MINI Coupe undergoing a shakedown in Toronto, Canada. The Coupe, which is supposed to be the most sporting version of the MINI lineup, was wearing minimal camaflogue, although the photographer reported that the driver did their best to make a swift getaway. Check out the gallery below, as well as a video clip of the 2012 MINI Coupe.
Gallery: 2012 MINI Coupe Spied
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
The all-new eagerly anticipated MINI Coupe is almost here. The all-new two-seater coupe is described as being an important competitor within the compact sports car class, a greater focus on performance compared to other MINI models. MINI describes its fine balance of the selection of engines, chassis set-up, weight distribution and aerodynamic properties, delivering optimum performance and superb driving pleasure.
The MINI Coupe will offer the Cooper, the Cooper S and the John Cooper Works Model. Surprisingly there will be no engines changes for the Coupe. Power will remain the same at 122-hp(base), 180-hp(S) and 208-hp(JCW). Both the Cooper and Cooper S Coupes are available with an optional six-speed automatic transmission or the six-speed manual transmission that comes fitted in all models as standard. An active rear spoiler is also offered on all Coupe models.
Outside, the car still retains the same MINI styling, but comes wrapped in a more aggressive package. Interestingly, the Coupe is actually based on the MINI Convertible, but with added bracing on the rear and sills, making it even stiffer than the current hatch. Pricing and weight have not yet been announced but we will soon have more information in the next few days.
GALLERY: MINI Coupe
Two years after it’s debut as a concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show, MINI is set to unveil the production version of its Coupe model at the same venue.
The design of the Coupe isn’t expected to change much, but MINI will position the car as its new performance model. According to the MINI enthusiasts at MotoringFile, the Coupe will weigh as much as 150 lbs less than the hatchback with a more rigid chassis. And with the next generation of MINI Cooper hatchbacks getting a variety of 3-cylinder powertrains, the 4-cylinder Coupe will be the undeniable performance leader.
MINI will reportedly debut the car in S and John Cooper Works trim to start, with debate ongoing as to whether it will offer a lower-priced and less powerful Cooper model.
Two stripped down models will join the MINI range within two years of the debut of the MINI Countryman crossover, one a Coupe, the other a 2-seat Roadster.
“The Coupe will arrive six months after the Countryman, and the Roadster 12 months after the Countryman,” said Jim McDowell, Vice-President of MINI USA. The Countryman will hit showrooms in February, 2011.
The MINI Coupe concept was essentially a Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works package (with the more powerful 211-horsepower turbo engine, suspension tweaks and big wheel package), with a “coupe” bodystyle. The Roadster used a base Cooper S engine (good for 172 horsepower), and jettisoned the exposed soft top from the standard Cooper Convertible in favor of a clamshell design similar to the Porsche Boxster Spyder.
Gallery: Mini Coupe and Roadster Concepts
[Source: Inside Line]
The production MINI Coupe is set to hit dealerships across North America next Summer. According to Mini Vice President Jim McDowell, MINI will use a six-month buffer between models an with the Countryman crossover set to arrive in February of next year, the Coupe should then be available in August of 2011. That would then mean that the Roadster model (essentially a drop-top version of the Coupe), would hit dealers in February of 2012 – just in time for spring.
Both the Coupe and Roadster debuted in concept form at the Frankfurt Auto Show last year and are expected to keep their 211-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder John Cooper Works mills. According to InsideLine, the Coupe is expected to share much of its underpinnings wit the more track-focused Cooper JCW, while the Roadster will use the more related Cooper S parts and will directly target the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Several patent drawings obtained by Autoblog show what the news outlet claims are the production designs for the upcoming MINI Coupe and Roadster. Both vehicles look remarkably similar to their concept counterparts, even down to the helmet roof for the Coupe.
The overall design still looks almost identical to the hatches, with the main feature separating the two-doors being a lack of a rear hatch. As for engines, we expect to find a turbocharged version of the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder under the hood.
In a recent conversation we had with MINI U.S.A. Boss Jim McDowell, he commented that we should be pleasantly surprised by some of the surprises in store. He also said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the MINI Roadster came to own the entry-level roadster segment that Mazda currently has locked-down with the Miata.
GALLERY: MINI Coupe and Roadster Patent Drawings
MINI’s Future ‘Greener and More Efficient’ With Engine Updates in 2011, Dual-Clutch Transmissions Likely
MINI expects Countryman to be most fuel-efficient crossover; new Roadster model to win over Miata buyers
With the launch of the all-new MINI Countryman at the Geneva Auto Show last week we had an opportunity to sit down with the VP of MINI USA, Jim McDowell and find out more about the brand’s first crossover and what the future holds for the rest of the product range.
Starting with the Countryman, McDowell believes this is a vehicle that will help bring back brand rejecters – those who simply couldn’t justify owning a MINI for reasons ranging from size, to functionality. He even commented that in the past a father of two who bought a MINI would be seen as selfish, putting his wants ahead of his family’s needs. The Countryman lets those needs and wants come together while avoiding any social stigma.
Added usability will come in the form of fuel efficiency. While no official numbers are yet available (or any unofficial ones for that matter), McDowell says he wouldn’t be surprised if the Countryman became the most fuel efficient crossover offered in the U.S.
MINI also hopes to attract driving enthusiasts to the Countryman by offering it with a manual transmission here. In fact, when it goes on sale, it will be the only all-wheel drive crossover offered with a manual transmission. When asked if MINI’s All4 AWD setup is being planned for any other future MINI models, McDowell commented that while it was most likely possible, it’s not something they are looking at, favoring the two-wheel approach for the ideal sporty driving experience.
As for the future of the rest of the range, McDowell confirmed that the recent engine updates made on European models will arrive for the 2011 model year cars in North America. In Europe, the Cooper and Cooper S models get a slight boost in power and improved fuel economy thanks to direct-injection technology and variable valve control. The Cooper gets a 3-hp jump to 122-hp, while torque is rated at 118 ft-lbs, allowing a 0-62 mph sprint of 9.1 seconds. As for the Cooper S, it gets a new twin-scroll turbocharger that helps bring the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder to 184-hp (up 9-hp), while torque of 177 ft-lbs comes on from 1600 to 5000 rpm. The overboost function delivers 192 ft-lbs (260Nm). The Cooper S is rated at 7 seconds to 62 mph. (These numbers should change slightly for the North American market and we’ll have to wait for official EPA rated fuel economy numbers).
But beyond those updates, McDowell had more to say, specifically in regards to our questions about smaller engines and the use of dual-clutch transmissions – something particularly relevant with Volkswagen and Audi now delivering cars like the A1 and Polo GTI with 1.4-liter Twinchargers and dual-clutch transmissions. “We are continuing to add technology as quickly as it comes, while working to promote the MINI driving experience and be environmentally responsible,” he commented, following up by stating that MINI will “move forwards in minimalism,” with a future that is, “greener and more efficient.” From this it’s safe to surmise that future MINI engines will get smaller while new technology like dual-clutch transmissions (which improve both the driving experience and fuel economy) are pretty much a given.
As for the upcoming Coupe and Roadster models, we pressed McDowell on what exactly makes these cars so different. He spoke at first about the obvious lack of a hatch, more futuristic design and improved cargo room – all of which is rather obvious. When we expressed our feelings that these attributes (including the JCW engine) really didn’t set the two models apart, he admitted as much, commenting: “but you don’t know what else is coming. We have a few pleasant surprises.”
After our conversation took a bit of a detour about MINI buyers and the other sorts of vehicles they consider, McDowell brought it back on point stating that he wouldn’t be surprised if the MINI Roadster came to own the entry-level roadster segment that Mazda currently has locked-down with the Miata.
As a brand, MINI is expanding significantly with new dealerships poping up all over the U.S. Over the next two years the Countrman (and soon the Coupe and Roadster) will double MINI’s lineup of products aimed at delivering performance and fuel economy in packages with the sort of universal appeal that has always made MINI models “global cars,” long before such a concet became popular.
MINI has confirmed that a vehicle based on the Coupé Concept, as well as another model will go into production in the near future at the company’s MINI Plant Oxford.
As for what that mystery model will be, it has been widely reported that a Roadster, also based on the Coupé Concept, is in the works and will debut alongside the Coupé Concept on September 15th at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
Both models are expected to be powered by the same John Cooper Works turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, making 211hp and 192 ft-lbs of torque, with a bump to 206 ft-lbs possible thanks to an overboost function.
GALLERY: MINI Coupé Concept
Official release after the jump:
Deal would see Toyota give BMW iQ platform for future mini-car models
Last week we reported on a story that BMW was in talks with Toyota to use its iQ city car platform as the basis of a future mini-MINI. Now it appears that deal may be two-sized as AutoCar is reporting that in exchange Toyota may get use of the MINI Coupe and Roadster platform to use as the basis of a new sporty vehicle.
Neither automaker has made any official comments on the exchange and while unlikely, both companies would benefit in certain ways. Currently BMW is in need of a mini-car platform to underpin a new line of cars including a small electric city car and a possible replacement for the Isetta. There have already been numerous rumors that BMW was working with Fiat to develop such a platform although Toyota’s reputation for quality is certainly more in line with BMW’s way of doing business.
At the same time, Toyota is desperate for a small sporty car that can capture the attention of younger buyers and enthusiasts.
Toyota is already in talks with Aston Martin, which wants to use the iQ base for its Cygnet city car.