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Archive for March 2009

50 Years of MINI: Techno Classica 2009

MotoringFile Sections: 50th Anniversary, Official News Mar 31st, 2009 5 Comments

This year BMW Group Classic marks a number of anniversaries at Techno Classica in Essen, Germany. BMW celebrates 80 years of automobile production and the new BMW Z4 enjoys the distinguished company of the BMW Z1, Z3 and Z8 Roadsters. In addition, the BMW 700 looks back 50 years to the time when it set the company back on track. The MINI brand, meanwhile, surveys a somewhat different history: it was also 50 years ago that this small British car won over the hearts of motorists and rapidly emerged as a cult car. As ever, visitors will find all these models in Hall 12. continued →

Selling My MINI & the Search For the Next Car (Part One)

MotoringFile Sections: MF Feature, Site News Mar 31st, 2009 47 Comments

Part One

As many of you know I sold my 2007 MCS (with every JCW accessory imaginable) a few months ago. There were lots of reasons I won’t go into here but I will say one of the over-riding factors was that I simply needed something a little larger and unfortunately a Clubman wouldn’t quite do.

So I was resigned to the fact that I would probably be MINI-less for at least a couple years with this move. But I still wanted to make the most of it and get something a truly enjoyed driving everyday. There were a few choices I immediately considered. While I could comfortably afford more than my previous MINI, I wanted to aim quite a bit lower due to new priorities. So with that decided, I zeroed in on a price range that was from $20,000 to $25,000. And besides, there’s something I’ve always found charming in the search a great used car. So the idea was set, I’d find something interesting (with four doors) that would in turn allow me to get something even more interesting and smaller (and presumably more fun) down the road.

The Search

So let’s see. Four doors, fun, relatively efficient and rare (or at least interesting). There are several brands out there that I could consider. The new MazdaSpeed 3 fit within this category but it’s too small and not really what I’m looking for. And the size factor rules out things like four door GTI’s (not to mention the quality and engineering factor) and other like-sized hatches.

In the end there was only one brand that made sense. It’s the one that I’ve owned and driven for years; BMW. A lot of MF readers might not know this but my 2002 MC was my first front-wheel drive car. In fact it was only the second non-BMW I’ve ever owned. So stepping into a BMW just felt right. Now the hard part, which one. continued →

MINI to Launch Progressive Activity Vehicle

MotoringFile Sections: F58 Spacebox Mar 30th, 2009 31 Comments

Over the last month we’ve heard from several sources that MINI will build its own “progressive activity vehicle” based off of the R60 MINI crossover. What’s a progressive activity vehicle? In BMW speak it’s something like the 5 Series Gran Turismo Concept soon to be released as a production vehicle. The idea is simple, create a car that combines the utility of a crossover but without the faux off-road capabilities and with a sleeker profile.

Known by insiders as the MINI SpaceBox (a working title but rumors say it could be make it to make production) the new vehicle will feature a sleeker rear design that will be closer one of the original Clubman design concepts from several years back (seen above in this exclusive spy shot). It will also have a total of five doors (four normal doors with a hatch like the upcoming MINI Crossover) with the most versatility of any MINI model. The design will differ substantially from the R60 Crossover with none of the off-road elements and unique styling all around. Two other key things it will lack will be the Crossover’s all-wheel drive and the added weight that comes with the system. continued →

MINI Spacebox Mistimed?

MotoringFile Sections: 50th Anniversary, Design, Marketing, R55 (Clubman) Mar 28th, 2009 8 Comments

At least that’s what Helen Walters at BusinessWeek.com wonders.

Still, I can’t help but wonder about initiatives like this. Given the economic environment and the grim news coming from the auto industry writ such large, one-off projects seem ripe to be filed under “nice but unnecessary.” BMW recently laid off 850 Mini workers from its Cowley plant in the UK, and Mini sales were down 35% in January compared to the year before, according to the AP.

An interesting point. continued →


MINIs and Macs

MotoringFile Sections: Best of the Web, Classic Mini, Design, Efficiency, R56 (Hatch) Mar 27th, 2009 10 Comments

We always talk about the comparison between the MINI brand and Apple. Both are considered to be premium brands in their respective segments for a number of reasons. Size and efficiency being one of them.

“To us,” Wu wrote, “the new Mac mini is like a Mini Cooper, a premium small form factor product but with decent horsepower. We believe the Mac mini could turn out to be a surprise dark horse hit.”

The comparison is serendipitous for more than name commonality (although Mini — the car — has always been capitalized). That first commercial product imprinting the Mini name on cultural iconography was sprung on the world 50 years ago this year.

[ Minis and minis by Apple and Others ] TheAppleBlog.com

$2,000 Tata Nano Goes On Sale

MotoringFile Sections: Efficiency, MINI Competitors Mar 27th, 2009 25 Comments

tata-nano-standard

A car we have been hearing about for quite a while now, mostly because of it’s very low price, is finally almost available.

But six years after the project was conceived, Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, announced on Mar. 23 that the world’s cheapest car would soon be available in one of the world’s fastest-growing car markets. Tata Motors, which is 37% owned by Tata Group, plans to begin a lottery to pick 100,000 people who will be eligible to buy the first Nano cars that roll off the production line. “We have made a promise and we have kept that promise,” Tata told journalists in Mumbai.

Only 50,000 will be produced this year with hopes of increasing production to 350,000 in 3 years.

As a MINI owner, would you ever think of owning one?

[ At Last, Tata Motors' $2,000 Nano ] BusinessWeek.com


MINI’s City Car to Go RWD?

MotoringFile Sections: Efficiency, Rumor Mar 26th, 2009 9 Comments

German Magazine Auto Bilde gives us a peak (so it would seem) into BMW’s plans for small cars over the next few years. While the headliner is the new Z2, there are a couple notable mentions of the MINI brand. According to the article both BMW and MINI will introduce a city car based on the Project i technology (as seen in the MINI E) in 2012. The car will be rear engined and (gasp) rear wheel drive according the article. Interestingly also in the article is mention of MINI’s new people carrier that will comfortably seat four and be front engined and front wheel drive.

Details are obviously scarce for both cars but we’ll continue to bring you the latest.

+ BMW macht es leicht / Auto Builde (Translated)

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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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