This is some interesting news from the Wall Street Journal about one of MINI's biggest rivals – especially outside the US. Here's an excerpt:

Volkswagen is aiming to sell much-pricier cars, starting with a souped up version of its once-affordable Golf, but sticker shock is driving even its most loyal customers away….

“Suzanne Kay has owned five VW Golfs since the mid-1980s. After checking out the latest version, she won't be buying a sixth.

One of the world's best-selling cars, which now costs more than $24,000 fully equipped, isn't worth the money, says Ms. Kay. The 39-year-old customer-relations employee at a bank in Brussels says she might switch to the Mini, made by BMW AG, or maybe the tiny Smart roadster from DaimlerChryslerAG's Mercedes division. “The new Golf is really an expensive small car now,” she says.

Ms. Kay's potential defection says a lot about what's plaguing Volkswagen AG, the world's fourth-largest car maker and the latest to stumble into the emergency room. The Golf, VW's profit workhorse, used to be an easy choice for drivers wanting an everyday runaround. As part of a push to turn itself into a maker of high-priced, premium cars, VW loaded the new Golf with expensive extras, assuming loyal customers would trade up. But the Golf's September launch, a critical moment for the company, has been a major disappointment.”

One of the things I noticed while over in the UK recently was how few new Golfs I actually saw on the roads. Knowing this is one of the most popular cars over there is came as quite a shock.

I also think this is also an important lesson for MINI to remember while it's creating the next iteration of the MINI range.