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  • Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video]

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    Competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades.

    Only one small car out of 12 tested earned a good grade in the latest round of crash-test results compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mini Cooper Countryman received a "good" ranking on the organization's small-front overlap test.

    Its competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades, including the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Juke, the Mazda5 and the Fiat 500L, and two more earned marginal scores.

    Introduced two years ago, the small front overlap test has been a difficult one for automakers to master, particularly so for small cars, which have less weight to absorb the forces of a car accident. So far, IIHS has tested 32 vehicles in the small-car segment and 13 have earned marginal or poor scores. On the flip side, 19 earned good or acceptable scores.

    "Consumers trading the inherent safety of a larger vehicle for the convenience or fuel economy of a small car should focus their search on these vehicles with state-of-the-art safety designs," said Joe Nolan, senior vice president for vehicle research at IIHS.

    Continue reading Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video]

    Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini bringing new 230-hp John Cooper Works to Detroit

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    2016 Mini John Cooper Works

    Mini models may keep getting incrementally bigger, but then so do their engines. Or more powerful, anyway - especially when it comes to the John Cooper Works performance models. The JCW version of the first (post-revival) generation R50, which was really more of an upgraded Cooper S than its own model, packed a 1.6-liter supercharged four with 200 horsepower. The following R56 JCW upped that incrementally to 208 hp, but the next Works hatchback is now rumored to pack around 230 horses.

    Tipped to be revealed in both three- and five-door body-styles at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show half a year from now, the F56-gen Mini John Cooper Works hatchback is expected to use the same 2.0-liter turbo four as the new Mini Cooper S, but increasing the output from 189 hp to approximately 230. That would mean it would be more powerful than either of the two previous John Cooper Works GP editions to make the new JCW the most powerful road-going Mini to date, backed by 285 pound-feet of torque driving through a six-speed manual or available automatic transmission to deliver what promises to be a blistering pace for the latest retro hatchback.

    Mini bringing new 230-hp John Cooper Works to Detroit originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 07 Jul 2014 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Street Glory Mappers turning cars into dynamic billboards like this

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    Street Glory Mappers

    A French marketing firm with the impenetrable name of Street Glory Mappers is literally turning cars into billboards. Of course, we've all seen vehicles painted up for promotional use, but this company is taking that concept even further by including video.

    Street Glory Mappers equips the vehicles with a large video screen behind the windshield to play whatever is being advertised. According to the company's promo, it may even be possibly to sync up the vehicle's lights with the show, as well. The firm claims that it's a great form of temporary, mobile marketing because the car can arrive at the location, play the video and then go away when the prospective audience leaves.

    While it doesn't necessarily seem any more effective than other forms of advertising, the firm's idea is at least unobtrusive. After all, it's easier to ignore a stationary car than a person handing out flyers. However, vehicle flashing its lights and playing video could certainly distract other drivers.

    While the promo only shows the video display working on a Smart Fortwo, the company's website also shows it on a Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 and other vehicles. Scroll down to see this new marketing approach in action for yourself.

    Continue reading Street Glory Mappers turning cars into dynamic billboards like this

    Street Glory Mappers turning cars into dynamic billboards like this originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • 2014 Mini Cooper S

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    2014 Mini Cooper S

    One of the big challenges as an automotive journalist is reviewing cars that you have a personal connection to. I have a strong passion for Minis. My first new car was a 2004 Cooper S, and I still own a 2006 model. It's this affinity that's left me with a general disdain of the 2007 to 2013 model relative to my first-gen.

    The last-generation cars, with their turbocharged engines, softer suspensions, duller steering and homelier looks are, in my mind, inferior to their 2002 to 2006 predecessors. As a car reviewer, though, I couldn't in good conscience argue the same point. The R56, as the last-gen cars were known internally and by enthusiasts, was a better-balanced vehicle that retained the lion's share of the abilities and character of the first-generation, R53 Cooper S, but they were better thought out, better designed, more livable, and felt like more complete products.

    Before the third-generation of the reborn Mini Cooper S landed in my driveway, I couldn't help but wonder whether the model would continue its slide towards mass appeal, or if it would re-embrace the enthusiast realm with a stronger driver-focused mission. As I found out during my week with the car, it was a bit of both.

    Continue reading 2014 Mini Cooper S

    2014 Mini Cooper S originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Remember that world-record jump crash? Here's every angle, including the human one

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    world record attempt crash

    Guerlain Chicherit is about to crashWhile there are those who watch automotive exploits hoping (secretly or otherwise) for a spectacular crash, most of us are happy when everything goes smoothly. But at the end of the day, a daring stunt wouldn't be a daring stunt if there weren't some element of danger. And make no mistake about it, Guerlain Chicherit's recent long-jump record attempt was a daring stunt if ever there was one.

    Chicherit, for those unfamiliar, is a French athlete who made the rare transition from "conventional" sports to motor sports. An accomplished professional skier, these days Guerlain drives a specially-prepared Mini Countryman in off-road events like the Dakar Rally and in death-defying stunts. Last year he managed to backflip his Mini and land in the record books, and this past winter he went after Tanner Foust's record by attempting a 360-foot jump at a ski resort in the French Alps. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

    Despite several practice jumps at closer distances, the final attempt ended in a massive cartwheel crash in front of the gathered crowds. Several spectators published footage of the crash soon after it happened, but now GoPro has released a more comprehensive compilation showing the lead-up to the event and the jump itself from every angle - inside, outside and away from the vehicle. It's guaranteed to make you cringe, but remember that Guerlain miraculously escaped with minimal injury and will live not only to tell the tale, but likely to take another crack at it. Whether you're the kind to gawk at such a crash or not, the video below is worth watching.

    Continue reading Remember that world-record jump crash? Here's every angle, including the human one

    Remember that world-record jump crash? Here's every angle, including the human one originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 22 Jun 2014 19:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • BMW and Mini getting GoPro integration

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    BMW GoPro app

    The small, high-quality and relatively inexpensive GoPro camera has been revolutionary for Internet video, especially of cars. Imagine how much awesomeness and hilarity we would have missed without them. Finding ways to integrate the cams into performance cars is becoming increasingly popular among automakers, as well. For example, the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette has its Performance Data Recorder, and Volkswagen is giving GoPros to early buyers of the 2015 GTI. BMW Group is going straight to the source for its rendition, though, with a new app that allows drivers to control a GoPro from inside of some BMW and Mini vehicles.

    In July, owners with 2012 or later models equipped with BMW Apps or Mini Connected can download the new app. There are a few hurdles to jump over, though. Not only do users need a model with the infotainment system, a WiFi-equipped GoPro camera is also required. The app also must be installed on an iPhone connected to the vehicle.

    Once all of those stipulations are met, the app can configure and control the GoPro through iDrive and display a nearly live image on the infotainment system. Menus are simplified on-screen but still allow users to select among six camera modes, aim it and start and stop recording. While filming, it shows recording time, battery life and signal strength. While BMW's approach isn't quite as nicely integrated as the Corvette's solution, it's interesting to see automakers working to make filming easier. Scroll down to read the full announcement.

    Continue reading BMW and Mini getting GoPro integration

    BMW and Mini getting GoPro integration originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini stretches out with new Hardtop 4 door [w/video] [UPDATE]

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    2015 Mini Cooper S 5 door

    UPDATE: Information on US availability, specification and nomenclature added to the updated text below.

    Few automakers have managed to spin off as many variants of essentially one vehicle as Mini has. The second generation produced even more versions than the first, and now that the third generation is upon us, the process is starting all over again. The jury may still be out on whether parent company BMW will roll out as many body-styles of this latest Mini as it did with the last, but here's our first indication.

    Following the introduction of the new three-door Mini hatchback at the LA Auto Show, the Anglo-Saxon marque has introduced a new five-door model. Or four-door, depending on which Mini office you're speaking to: while this new model - an addition to the lineup and not a direct replacement for anything previously offered - is called the Mini 5 door by the factory, here in the US it's called the Mini Hardtop 4 door. Whatever you call it, though, this new Mini is essentially the same as the three-door model (or two-door model with a tailgate), only with - you guessed it - two extra doors. The new Clubman will be a separate model altogether.

    To fit in the extra portals, Mini has stretched the hatchback's wheelbase by 2.8 inches, all to the benefit of rear-seat leg room, along with more head- and elbow-room in the back and a bigger luggage compartment. At 157 inches from bow to stern, the five-door is 6.3 inches longer than the existing three-door, and the suspension has been revised accordingly.

    Engine options carry over, and once again, they're all turbocharged. The base Mini Cooper packs a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque and the Cooper S gets a 2.0-liter four with 189 hp and 207 lb-ft. Those two engines should constitute the choices for US customers, at least until the JCW performance model comes along. (While no bare-bones Mini One model is being offered, European customers will also be able to opt for the Cooper D powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo diesel with 114 hp and 199 lb-ft or the Cooper SD with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel offering 167 hp and 265 lb-ft.) Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are on offer, and the quickest model - the Cooper S automatic - will hustle to 60 in 6.5 seconds.

    The Mini with the extra doors is set to arrive at US dealers towards the end of the year with deliveries set to begin in the new year at a $1,000 premium over the equivalent two/three-door. Scope out the details in the press release from Mini USA, along with a couple videos, below, and the very extensive image gallery above for a closer look.

    Continue reading Mini stretches out with new Hardtop 4 door [w/video] [UPDATE]

    Mini stretches out with new Hardtop 4 door [w/video] [UPDATE] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 Jun 2014 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Lego Mini Cooper coming in August [w/video]

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    Lego Mini Cooper

    Lego isn't just for kids anymore. A while back, the company cleverly realized that adults liked its connecting blocks as much as kids but wanted a more sophisticated project to take on. It offers a whole set of Expert models, including a wickedly cool Volkswagen Bus from a few years ago. Now, it's taking aim at automotive enthusiasts again with the recently announced classic Mini Cooper set due to go on sale on August 1 for $99.99.

    This is a seriously cool Lego model. At nine inches long, five inches wide and four inches tall, the car is certainly compact (as a Mini should be), but it contains 1,077 pieces. It's finished in the classic Mini look with a British Racing Green body with white roof, hood stripes and mirror caps. The doors, hood and trunk all open up, and there's even a little, simulated engine. The interior includes features like a turning steering wheel and movable gearshift and handbrake. In the boot, there is a cute picnic set, and even a spare tire hidden under the floor. If you want to show off your handiwork after it's built, the roof is removable to peer inside.

    Expect dads around the world to be unwrapping these when the holidays roll around. Scroll down to watch one of Lego's designers detailing its latest set and read the full release about it, below. The gallery shows the Mini off from all of its blocky angles, as well.

    Continue reading Lego Mini Cooper coming in August [w/video]

    Lego Mini Cooper coming in August [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Jun 2014 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini's Superleggera concept could see production; here's what it might look like

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    Mini Superleggera Rendering

    We fell in love with the Mini Superleggera Vision Concept from the moment we laid eyes on it. The little convertible blends retro and modern together better than any Mini in years. There is even more good news about the roadster as well because the company is considering actually building it. We even have some renders of what the production version could look like.

    Mini Superleggera rearMini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer tells Automotive News at the 2014 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, that the Superleggera might have a life beyond its debut. "We wanted to test how Mini enthusiasts worldwide were reacting to such a different type of Mini. So far, it has received overwhelming appreciation," he said to AN. But here's the bad news. All of the unique elements of the droptop wouldn't be cheap to build. Pricing would likely be around 35,000 euros if BMW gives it the green light, according to Schwarzenbauer. It's too early to know whether the road car would use the electric motor from the concept or something more conventional.

    The Superleggera Vision concept comes from the creative minds at Touring Superleggera who are also responsible for the gorgeous, modernized Disco Volante. The wonderful thing about the design is that it's still obviously a Mini but somehow adds a sprinkle of Aston Martin.

    The rendering above comes from Theophilus Chin, allowing us to visualize what the roadster might like if production is granted. It tones down the shape at the front and adds an actual grille. At the back (right), Chin makes the rear end a little more curvaceous but also shrinks the car's fin. In all, even if pricey, we think it's a car that could find some takers if built.

    Mini's Superleggera concept could see production; here's what it might look like originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 May 2014 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini testing new JCW on the Nürburgring Nordschleife

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    2015 Mini John Cooper Works

    Mini fans have had plenty to chew on lately. In the past month alone, the Anglo-Saxon automaker revealed its quirky, one-off Paceman Adventure pickup and dazzled showgoers over the weekend at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este with the Superleggera Vision concept. But what enthusiasts (to say nothing of dealers) have been really waiting for since the debut of the new Mini hatchback late last year has been the new John Cooper Works performance model. And that's just what we have here.

    Spied undergoing testing at the Nürburgring, this JCW prototype looks about ready for production, but is still keeping its front end under wraps. We can still discern the larger front intakes and bigger brakes with red calipers front and rear, and while the rear bumper is still stock, the wheels are definitely JCW: similar to those worn by the John Cooper Works Concept unveiled in Detroit a few months ago, they look more like five-spoke versions of the outgoing GP model's four-spoke units than the BBS-style alloys of the last John Cooper Works hatchback.

    The new JCW is still probably a few months away from debut, but we're expecting around 230 horsepower under the hood when it does arrive.

    Mini testing new JCW on the Nürburgring Nordschleife originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 May 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Tony Hawk jumps a moving Mini

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    Tony Hawk jumps over a moving Mini Cooper

    Remember a couple of years ago when Tony Hawk jumped over a Lexus LFA on his skateboard? Well that was nothing compared to what he's done here.

    Sure the LFA is a more impressive car than a Mini hatchback, but that Japanese supercar was sitting still when the world's most famous skater jumped over it. And it was parked sideways. This time Tony's jumped a moving car, front to back. It gets even more impressive than that when you see what happens to the ramp after he's done with it, but we don't want to ruin the surprise.

    The stunt was performed in celebration of the partnership between Mini USA and Hawk's Birdhouse Skateboards Tour, details of which you can read in the press release under the video below.

    Continue reading Tony Hawk jumps a moving Mini

    Tony Hawk jumps a moving Mini originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 25 May 2014 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini Superleggera Vision is the all-electric roadster Mini needs to make

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    Mini Superleggera Vision

    Mini Superleggera VisionIt could be argued that Mini has not built a pretty car since the R53, the first of the reborn Minis, was put out to pasture at the end of 2006. I've owned two R53s, so yes, I'm horribly biased. The styling situation in Oxford hasn't improved much for 2014, either, as the bigger, more frightened-looking Mini begins to arrive in dealerships, boasting a very un-Mini-like front overhang. This, though... this works.

    It's called the Superleggera Vision, and straight away, we should point out that it's not designed by Mini. It's a product of Touring Superleggera, whose other creations include the stunning Disco Volante. It's a darn nice piece of design, and we're especially fond of its tiny, Jaguar D-type-like rear fin. It's also perfectly designed for its debut location - the Concours d'Elegance at Italy's Villa d'Este.

    Despite being a Mini, the Superleggera still boasts a traditional roadster layout, with a long hood and a shorter rear deck. The front end boasts a pair of traditionally styled Mini headlamps, which sit above a version of the new Cooper's gaping grille. The profile is brightened by a pair of character lines, the most noticeable of which runs from ahead and over the front wheel wells toward the back of the diminutive droptop. Of course, we can't not mention that amazing fin. It should be fitted to every Mini Roadster posthaste. The rear of the car, meanwhile, almost reminds us of an old Aston Martin Vanquish, thanks to the shape of its taillights and their rounded rectangular enclosure. And yes, those are Union Jacks inside the taillights. God save the queen.

    The cabin is awash in aluminum and leather trim, but it's a generally minimalist design. The overall theme blends more classic roadster characteristics with traditional Mini touches, and is most notable when looking at the large, thin-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel harkens back to old British roadsters. That's accented by the centrally mounted speedometer and the column-mounted tachometer, both classic Mini features.

    Under hood, there's an electric drivetrain, although we're completely absent of any details on it. Still, we should point out what a 180 this has been for BMW - at last year's Villa d'Este, it showed a V12-powered, ultra-luxury coupe. Now, it's showing a tiny, convertible EV.

    Take a look up top for our full gallery of images provided by BMW. Then, hop below and have a look at the official press release on this striking, eco-friendly concept.

    Continue reading Mini Superleggera Vision is the all-electric roadster Mini needs to make

    Mini Superleggera Vision is the all-electric roadster Mini needs to make originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 23 May 2014 16:25:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini five-door spotted alongside next Clubman

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    Mini 5-door

    Is Mini constricting its staggering array of model variants or expanding it? That depends largely on which way you look at it. Because while some models may not make the cut as the second-generation family is gradually replaced with the third, others appear to be joining the fold. They just might not bear different model names.

    Take, for example, the vehicle pictured here. It's a five-door version of the latest Mini hatchback, but won't necessarily replace the Clubman wagon - particularly since that's precisely what appears to be pictured alongside it. While the five-door hatch appears to simply add an extra set of portals - full-size ones, from the look of it, not backwards-opening half-doors - to the existing three-door version, the new Clubman appears not only longer but also wider, giving it that much more interior space.

    Of course that could all be an optical illusion generated by swirly camouflage designed to do just that, but from the apparent readiness of both models, we'll find out one way or another soon enough - whatever they're called.

    Mini five-door spotted alongside next Clubman originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 14 May 2014 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini Paceman Adventure photos arrive by the trucklette-load

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    Mini Paceman

    Yesterday, we brought you the news of the existence of this Mini Paceman Adventure tiny truck, and the story of how it came to be. Long story short: it was a lighthearted collaboration between apprentices and instructors at parent BMW plants in Germany. The mini-sized pickup bed and off-road kit may not make the Paceman All4 actually practical, but we'd argue that they do make the one-off fairly loveable.

    Apparently the Mini photographers agree with that "loveable" part. We'd heard that there were some better, higher-resolution images of the Paceman Adventure on the way, but we didn't expect there to be hundreds of them. But as you can see, the shooters went out and thoroughly documented the pickup, shooting it in several locations, still and moving, and documenting some of its construction as well. Find your favorite in the massive gallery of images, above.

    Continue reading Mini Paceman Adventure photos arrive by the trucklette-load

    Mini Paceman Adventure photos arrive by the trucklette-load originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Apr 2014 17:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini interns turn Paceman into Adventure pickup

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    Mini Paceman Adventure

    With coupes and convertibles, hatchbacks and crossovers, Mini has done just about every bodystyle we could think of, and then a few more as concepts. But it hasn't done a pickup. At least it hadn't until now.

    What we have here is a Mini Paceman (that, of course, being the coupe version of the Countryman) which has been transformed into a pickup by a group of BMW interns. It's called the Mini Paceman Adventure, and it's currently on display at the Mini dealership in Munich. According to BimmerToday.de, the project involved not only chopping the roof and installing a makeshift pickup bed, but also reinforcing the body, reforming the underbody and B-pillar, fitting off-road tires (including a spare fitted to a roof rack) and a handful of other minor modifications.

    The photos are a little sketchy (although the dealership tells us a better set will be available soon), but from what we can see, it looks like a pretty solid project - one that makes us wonder if the apprentices' bosses might be paying attention. Because next to the Mini Coupe with its oddball backwards-hat roof treatment, this one-off looks as sensible as you'd expect from a group of German interns.

    Mini interns turn Paceman into Adventure pickup originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini reveals refreshed Paceman in Beijing

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    2015 Mini Paceman Cooper S

    It was just a few days ago that Mini unveiled its refreshed Countryman at the New York Auto Show, and now it has followed up with the revised version of that model's coupe counterpart, the Paceman. Revealed today at the Beijing Motor Show, the new Paceman adopts all the changes applied to the new Countryman - which is to say, not a whole lot, but maybe enough to keep it current for the masses of customers in the market for a three-door version of a vehicle that's bigger than its stablemates but smaller than most other crossovers.

    Pictured here in Piano Black (one of three new shades on offer alongside Midnight Grey and the Jungle Green in which the new Countryman was featured), the mildly refreshed Paceman has, like its five-door counterpart, been so subtly updated that we can scarcely tell the difference... even after sorting through the press release below. There are some minor revisions to the exterior, the cabin features slightly updated equipment, and the Cooper S gets an extra few horsepower. And that's about all she wrote, folks.

    Mini will offer the updated Paceman worldwide with a wide array of four-cylinder engine options. With no budget-oriented One model, the Cooper is the base model with a 122-horsepower version of the brand's ubiquitous 1.4-liter four and the John Cooper Works sits at the top of the range with 218 hp. The two diesel specs are present as well, and buyers cam choose (on most models) between front- and All4 all-wheel drive.

    Scope out the details in the press release below, if you're so inclined, and the 45 high-resolution images in the gallery above for a closer look.

    Continue reading Mini reveals refreshed Paceman in Beijing

    Mini reveals refreshed Paceman in Beijing originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Apr 2014 16:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • 2015 Mini Cooper S does best gymkhana impersonation in Malaysia

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    Screencap of a Malaysian video promo for the new Mini.

    Mini Malaysia wants you - at least those of you in Southeast Asia - to know that the new Mini has a riptide of adrenaline and sharp teeth underneath its larger, more ergonomically efficient exterior. To make the point it enlisted the aid of Putrajaya roads, local agency Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid and four local action sports stars: Fizzy, Shuk, Rizlan and Nasa.

    A bog standard Mini Cooper S is the star, its 192-horsepower engine and rollcage-free cabin reinforcing the message that you can do the same thing in a model right off the showroom floor... if you happen to have the same skills as Ivan Khong, the Malaysian Gymkhana Champion behind the wheel. You can read the backstory in the press release and watch how it all comes together in the video below.

    Continue reading 2015 Mini Cooper S does best gymkhana impersonation in Malaysia

    2015 Mini Cooper S does best gymkhana impersonation in Malaysia originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Mini lifts veil on refreshed Countryman in New York

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    2015 Mini Countryman

    When Mini introduced the Countryman in 2010, it emerged as the brand's first crossover, its first five-door model and its first to offer all-wheel drive. It also arrived mid-lifecycle in the last generation of Mini Cooper hatchback, with which it shares little more than a passing family resemblance. Now that the Anglo-Saxon automaker is moving on to its third generation of retro hatch, it's given the Countryman a bit of a refresh to keep it current.

    Unveiled today at the New York Auto Show, the new Countryman incorporates some very minor cosmetic tweaks to the exterior - so minor, in fact, that you'd be hard pressed to tell one from the other even if viewed side by side. Some subtle enhancements have been implemented to the interior as well, where the large central speedometer remains where it was in the middle of the dashboard (unlike the new Cooper hatch that moves it to where you'd normally find the instrument cluster, behind the steering wheel). The rear seats, however, offer more adjustability.

    Mini will offer the new Countryman worldwide in an array of powertrain configurations, ranging from the bare-bones Mini One Countryman with a 1.6-liter naturally-aspirated four offering just 98 horsepower all the way up to the twin-turbo John Cooper Works with 218 hp - North American customers will get the latter, but not the former. The mid-range Cooper S has been enhanced by seven horses to deliver 190 hp, while overseas-only diesel models range from 90 hp to 143. Buyers will be able to choose between a six-speed manual or automatic and front-or all-wheel drive. There are also some new colors on offer and a host of optional equipment, all of which you can read about in the press release below.

    Continue reading Mini lifts veil on refreshed Countryman in New York

    Mini lifts veil on refreshed Countryman in New York originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • 2014 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman All4

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    2014 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman

    The standard Mini Countryman is a bit of an odd duck against the backdrop of 'normal' small crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and the Ford Escape, but I sort of get it. Apply the same winning Mini formula to a CUV, and you get a smaller-than-average entry in the segment, one that is far more entertaining to drive than the norm, more stylish inside and out and pretty expensive when cross-shopped. That list of qualities doesn't appeal to all crossover shoppers, sure, but it intrigues a big enough list that the Countryman has reason for being.

    Now, add the expensive John Cooper Works package to the Countryman's already niche goodies list, and Mini starts to lose me. So, I'm getting the softer suspended, taller, generally less dynamically joyful version of the brand's core values, but now you're charging me at least $35,000 ($13k more expensive than the basic, front-drive Cooper Countryman and $7k more than the MSRP of the Cooper S All4 version)? What's that? You're going to make it look like a garish, tippy-toed tuner car in the process? Take my money.

    Or, actually, let me keep it. I can swing with a lot of the weirdness that Mini has to offer, but this car pushed me past my limit.

    Driving Notes
    • Black stripe package ($500), black headlamp surrounds with Xenon lamps ($600), 19-inch wheels ($750), leather seats with red piping ($2,000), flat load floor in hatch ($250), chrome line interior ($250), tech package with navi ($2,250), premium pack with dual sunroof ($1,250), cold weather pack ($750). Sorry for the list; that's what it'll take to make your JCW Countryman ring up for almost $43k, as mine did.
    • One thing the John Cooper package does get you, is where you are going in a hurry. 6.6 seconds to 60 miles per hour feels more than sprightly from the high seating position of this car, and the torque jump up to 207 pound-feet (on overboost) is rather thrilling compared with the 177 lb-ft from the still quick Cooper S Countryman.
    • Huge 19-inch wheels wearing hard-as-nails run-flat rubber kill any of the ride quality the standard Countryman offers versus the rest of the Mini line. In the case of the JCW, though, the sturdier set of suspenders isn't enough to dial out a ton of roll through hard corners. With less comfort in a straight line and a still-tippy feeling in the bendy bits, this Countryman gets the worst of all worlds.
    • Direct steering with ample feedback is in the Mini DNA, and both are in evidence with the JCW CUV. The All4 all-wheel-drive setup seemed grippy enough during my mostly dry driving week, as well. Of course, the incoherent mix of hard springs and high ride height obliterated any desire I may have had to exploit the car's tactility and outright poise, so it hardly mattered.
    • Now with a bench seat in the rear quarters (the original Countryman had twin buckets and a rail-system center console), there is a lot of practicality baked into a small footprint here. The Countryman is still short enough to be wieldy around the city, while offering enough backseat space and cargo room to keep a young, hip, small family-type pretty comfortable.
    • The Countryman is a useful package, wherein you're always paying more than a 'standard' small CUV for added style and verve. The high cost and unsettling ride of the JCW adds make zero sense to me, however. This isn't a car you're going to autocross, or even want to drive hard on the proverbial canyon road. Sock that seven grand away into a college fund or put it into your Spec Miata if that's your thing, and stick with the more reasonable version of this biggest Mini.

    2014 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman All4 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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  • Honda, Mercedes top KBB brand image awards [w/video]

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    ECONOMY

    Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of its 2014 Brand Image Awards, which look at brands with "attributes that capture the attention and enthusiasm" of customers in the market for a new car.

    The award is divided up into luxury brands and everyone else non-luxury brands, with a number of sub-awards in each group. There's also a single award for truck brands. Taking the crown for the best everyman brand (for the second year in a row) is Honda, while Mercedes-Benz was the king of the luxury brackets. Ford, meanwhile, had the best image among pickup buyers.

    Honda was also named the most trusted brand among shoppers, while Kia, GMC, Mini and Chevrolet also snagged awards for value, refinement, performance and styling, respectively. Secondary winners in the luxury ranks include Lexus, Buick, Porsche and Jaguar. Mercedes was also named the most refined luxury brand.

    "The classic saying 'perception is reality' falls true with the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, as more than 12,000 in-market new-car shoppers have voiced their opinions about today's automakers," said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for KBB. "With strong marketing communications coming from auto manufacturers and dealers, and the increased importance of peer reviews and ratings, consumers today are more influenced than ever to take interest in a brand, ultimately affecting their vehicle purchase decisions."

    Take a look below for KBB's video recap of this year's awards, as well as a press release detailing the winning attributes of each brand.

    Continue reading Honda, Mercedes top KBB brand image awards [w/video]

    Honda, Mercedes top KBB brand image awards [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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