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Archive for May 2010

MINI Countryman Launch In Brief

MotoringFile Sections: R60 (Countryman) May 31st, 2010 19 Comments

Countryman

Now that we’ve reviewed the Countryman in detail our thoughts turn to products details and launch dates.

We expect production ready vehicles to start rolling off the line this September in Austria with European and UK dealers getting the first allotments shortly afterwards. MINI will launch with five models in Europe initially: Cooper, Cooper D, Cooper D ALL4, Cooper S, and Cooper S ALL4.

For the US market, MINI USA is doing everything they can to move up the launch from February to late January however final dates are still being determined. continued →

RSR Motorsports at Lime Rock this Weekend

MotoringFile Sections: Motorsports May 28th, 2010 9 Comments

RSR MINI

As we highlighted last week, the RSR MINI’s are having some good success in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. This weekend sees them coming to Lime Rock, a track well suited to the MINI’s strengths with great potential for further podium appearances by the team.

Official Release: LAKEVILLE, Conn.—RSR Motorsports heads to Lime Rock Park this weekend for the fifth round of the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and they are ready to race on a track that was made for MINIs.

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A Classic Mini Designers Meet the New MINI Designer

MotoringFile Sections: Classic Mini, Design, Video May 28th, 2010 7 Comments

Our friends from MINI Space (the internet arm of the official MINI International Magazine) recently were at the IMM 2010 (a huge European MINI meet) and stumbled onto two classic Minis completely re-imagined. But more interestingly they had head of MINI Design Gert Hildebrand with them for some impromptu design discussions around the two classics. The resulting video is well worth five minutes of your time as it not only gives you some clues into how two incredible classics came into being but also a view of how Gert looks at design in the eyes on the MINI brand.

MINI Considering Beachcomber Production

MotoringFile Sections: R60 (Countryman), R?? Beachcomber Concept May 26th, 2010 24 Comments

MINI Beachcomber

MINI is considering green-lighting the radical Beachcomber concept that debuted at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. That news comes from Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht (head of MINI band management) via Autoexpress. We can indeed confirm this having shared a similar conversation over dinner with the good Dr. at the Countryman launch last week. As he told Autoexpress, MINI has been blown away by the reaction to the concept and is studying the potential of a production version. As both Gert Hildebrand and Dr Armbrecht implied to me last week, the business case would be relatively straight forward in that it would share many components with the R60 Countryman. Further it would give the MINI brand another authentic.

We’ll have more on the Beachcomber as we get it.


MF Special: Behind the Scenes at BMW’s ETC

MotoringFile Sections: R55 (Clubman) May 26th, 2010 10 Comments

Last week I spent several days talking MINI technology at the public unveiling of the BMW Environmental Test Center. While we have specific stories coming on the ETC we also wanted to touch on some of those fleeting moments when we caught a glimpse of something or heard something interesting about either MINI or BMW.

In fact one of the most interesting parts of the week was being inside BMWs new testing center where pretty much every upcoming MINI and BMW product we see in spyshots was casually sitting in the car park (Of course we were asked to not take photos). So with that said here’s a list of the highlights:

  • Saw a 2011 refreshed R55 MINI with red roof and mirrors. Had the JCW wheels and brakes but nothing else out of the ordinary. The interior was covered but I did get a good look at the tail lamps and can confirm that they are LED.
  • The front brake ducts of the R55 are just that – brake ducts. They are on the Cooper S and JCW only and are meant to give greater sporting character to both cars over the One and Cooper
  • Had a chance to stand next to a camflauged (next generation) BMW F20 1 series. First impressions are that it’s quite a bit wider and slightly longer (further differentiating it from the MINI.
  • The interior of the F20 1er is particularly impressive. I couldn’t see the whole thing but I caught a clear glimpse of the center stack and computer control system (nav unit). It’s much like the new 5 Series in design but the screen is not as inset.
  • Saw several BMW X3s almost entirely uncamoflauged. It’s more angular than the X1 and retains some of the previous X3’s signature front end design. The shape is also similar but with much of the X5’s design language integrated.
  • The BMW X1 is actually less attractive in person while the new X3 looks to be the best looking traditional crossover (not counting the X6) BMW has ever made.
  • BMW cappuccinos are consistently good throughout the world. Thank God as jet lag is also fairly consistent.
  • The engineers who run the EDC and carry out all the various tests on new cars are incredibly passionate about things like making sure your 5 Series starts in -30c temps while on the side of a mountain. Pretty reassuring stuff. continued →

White Roof Radio #338

MotoringFile Sections: Podcast May 25th, 2010 1 Comment

The Cowboy show? It’s going to be short? [insert losing game show buzzing sound here]. We start by spending a fair amount of time talking about news from MotoringFile, including a call, with fairly poor quality, in from our man Gabe with his thoughts about the Countryman. And we finish with a speed round of Ask Chad.

Woofcast 338:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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MINI’s Revised 2011 Engines In Depth

MotoringFile Sections: 2011 LCI, R55 (Clubman), R56 (Hatch), R57 (Conv.) May 24th, 2010 17 Comments

(The following article is a revised version of what was published last week in the MotoringFile Countryman review)

Starting with September production MINI will be substantially revising the entire range of cars for the 2011 model year featuring smoother operation, higher efficiency and more power. In the US and Canada this means that MINI will be rolling out the engine updates that were first debuted in March builds for the European market. We’ve detailed the 2011 refresh in many articles over that past several years, this article will focus on the changes to the 1.6L powerplant found at the core of every MINI model. There are some exceptions; we are not reporting the upcoming refreshed JCW version of the engine because we don’t have information on it yet. However rest assured as soon as we get it, you’ll read it on MF.

First the Cooper. The R60 Cooper has 122 hp up two from the previous configuration of the naturally aspirated Prince engine. Yes it’s just a slight increase but there are a lot of changes under the surface. The naturally aspirated 1.6L gets a new map regulated oil pump that adjusts pressure and volume based on needs of engine (and not just engine speed as before). It results in a 3% fuel savings and allows for the whole system to heat quicker in cold weather (due to it not engaging in cold starts when it’s not needed).

The MPG ratings haven’t been released yet but we expect final figures to be around 2 mpg higher on the highway.

Even more impressive is what MINI have done to the Cooper S. Yes there’s more power, but lets focus on efficiency first. The R60 MCS will reach the same mpg (not a typo) on the highway thanks to a more substantial upgrade. In fact CO2 levels go from only 140 gm to 143 despite the turbo and the extra 60 hp. The MCS sees all the same updates that the Cooper gets but with the major addition of fully variable valve train (Valvetronic as BMW calls it) along with refinements of friction point throughout the engine. The result is an increase of around 10hp for approximately 182 hp (final US figures are forthcoming).

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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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MotoringFile Reviews

Reviews:
'12 JCW Coupe
'11 Fiat 500 Sport
'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
'11 Cooper S Hatch
'11 Countryman MCS (FWD)
'11 Countryman MC (auto)
'10 Mayfair MCS (auto)
'11 Countryman MCS (ALL4)
'10 MINI E
'10 Tesla Roadster Sport
'09 Cooper S Convertible
'09 JCW Hatch
'09 JCW Clubman
JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
'08 Clubman S (Auto)
1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
'08 Smart Fourtwo
Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
Comparison: '06 Mazda MX5
Comparison: '06 UK Focus ST
Comparison: '06 Civic Si
Comparison: '04 TVR T350
Comparison: '06 Nissan 350z
Comparison: '06 VW GTI w/DSG
Podcast: Cooper S Auto
Podcast: BMW 325i
Podcast: JCW MC Soundkit
'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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