May 31st, 2004
As some long time MotoringFile readers may know MINI's next generation car (the R56) is due to be introduced in the next 2-3 years. There have been rumors in the past that this next MINI will be a car designed to cost BMW less and in turn make more money as opposed to the current car which by most accounts is over engineered considering the price range it occupies. In fact we covered some of this very speculation over a year ago. Of course the extent of the cost savings is unknown and it may simply be components that we can't see or feel that have no bearing on overall quality of the car. We probably won't know details until the cars make their way out of the plant and into our hands.
The Irish Examiner has some further info about the next generation car in a recent article. While the article is vague in nature, what it hints at is interesting. Here's an excerpt:
German car giant BMW is planning to replace its successful British-built Mini with a new, cheaper-to-make model.
The company, which makes the Mini at Cowley near Oxford, has drawn up plans for a version of the car with a less ambitious design, according to a report.
The Munich-based car maker has decided the high specification of the Mini and its relatively low market price has limited its profitability, the report in the Sunday Times said.
The new model, which will not be available for at least three to four years, will have cheaper components and will be offered with a wider range of body types including a five-door estate.
May 28th, 2004
Judging the emails we've been getting lately at MotoringFile it seems everyone is either buying a 2005 MINI or in a desperate need to at least play with the 2005 MINI configuator. So after some digging here is what we've learned about it's release date on MINIUSA.com. Apparently it was set to launch around Sept 1 which generally is the new model year timeframe, however due to the changed timeframe for 2005 it will unfortunately debut quite a while after production commences on July 1. That being said those behind MINIUSA are hard at work and pulling out all stops for a late mid/summer debut for the 2005 configurator. To quote an inside source: “we're cooking up some pretty cool features”.
May 28th, 2004
The web can be a very is a powerful tool to get a point across – especially on a grass roots level. Back in December of 2002 I posted something on my personal weblog comparing the complete failure of the F150 in a recent crash test and how it compared to the just released ranking of the new MINI. I had always heard the (at the time current) F150 had horrible crash test ratings but never really took a look at the pictures. When I did I was so taken a back that I figured I had to let others know about this. Of course this was about the same time the IISH released crash testing data on the MINI. Well the lightbulb went on – what better way to demonstrate the failure of the Ford F150 than to compare it to the success of the MINI!
Over the course of a year and a half that single post has garnered more attention than all the rest of my personal blog combined. And lately the hit level has gone through the roof due to hundreds of weblogs linking to it. So I figured it was finally time to post about it on MotoringFile.
So here it is: Crash Testing: MINI Cooper vs Ford F150. BTW the comments are really fascinating. Enjoy.
May 27th, 2004
While the article is nothing more than a preview of a preview really it does have a full page full of specs that may be news to some. Here's an excerpt:
It's hardly a surprise that Mini has a new droptop version of the Mini Cooper, as we started seeing spy pictures, snapped during cold-weather testing in Scandinavia, more than a year ago. And we knew that Mini was determined not to wait as long as Volkswagen and Chrysler, which belatedly brought out convertible versions of their own boutique small cars, the New Beetle and PT Cruiser, respectively. The Mini brand has been a great success for BMW both in Europe and the United States, and Mini needs to keep the momentum going.
You can check out the cabrio's full specs from the article here. By the way you'll have to fire up the old metric conversion program if you want to see numbers in pounds and inches.
The full article (along with other US magazine previews) should hit newsstands in early June.
May 27th, 2004
The past week at MotoringFile has been an incredibly busy one. We've managed to get a hold of two internal MINI documents describing plans for the 2005 MY, seen a detailed write-up on the inner workings of MINI's consumer research and learned the truth about some MINI robots among other things. Here are some of the highlights:
May 26th, 2004
Reading the this months EVO I was struck by their first take of BMW's new 1 series including an actual driving review. However it was a quick mention of something that got me thinking:
“Upfront, there's plenty of storage space and a central console with an iPod input plug for the stereo.”
While this is the first I've read of a feature like this specific to the 1 series (it's not even in the brochure) it has been mentioned for the next generation 3 series. Here's a quote from a recent Autospies scoop regarding the new 3 series:
“Audio system will finally have a CD/MP3 capable playback and an interface connection to iPod-like devices… we're even hearing rumblings out of the Palo Alto Technology office regarding a potential deal in the works with Apple.”
May 25th, 2004
No idea how we missed this but the New York Times recently dove into the world the “Men of Metal” with an article describing how the marketing campaign was created. While discerning readers of MotoringFile have known that the campaign was indeed a campaign, it apparently fooled quite a few out there. But even more interesting are the ideas proposed by the 2 Walls Webzine about the exact conclusion to the campaign. But we'll get to this later. First here's an excerpt from the NYT article:
The truth is out there about Mini Cooper car parts being used to build humanlike robots. But do you really believe everything you read?
The mischievous folks at Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Miami certainly hope so. They have concocted an elaborate advertising campaign disguised as a debate over whether a British engineer has built robots out of Mini car parts – or not.