Mini Clubman Concept isn't mini, isn't a Clubman
Filed under: Concept Cars, Geneva Motor Show, Hatchback, Mini
Hey, remember when Mini was... mini? I know, you've heard all this before. But seriously.
Take this new Mini Clubman Concept, for example. As you'll recall, the current Clubman slots in between the Hardtop and Countryman models in the Mini lineup. But because the new, third-generation Mini has grown, so has everything else. And in fact, the concept car seen here is actually 4.4 inches longer and just over 2 inches wider than the current, already-large Countryman. The future of Mini looks awfully maxi.
Furthermore, the Clubman as we know it uses a weird, five-door layout (two up front, a third, suicide door, and two barn doors out back), but this concept adds a sixth door for a decidedly more conventional layout. Of course, four real doors for passengers sort of takes the uniqueness out of the Clubman package, and essentially makes this thing a not-as-tall, front-wheel-drive Countryman. Totally necessary, right?
Have a look at the images above, and let us know what you think about the Clubman concept, in Comments.
Continue reading Mini Clubman Concept isn't mini, isn't a Clubman
Mini Clubman Concept isn't mini, isn't a Clubman originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 05 Mar 2014 09:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Watch Jay Leno bounce around with Dakar winner Roma in his Mini All4Racing
Filed under: Motorsports, Performance, Videos, Mini, Celebrities, Diesel, Off-Road
With Jay Leno off the Tonight Show, he has all the time in the world to focus on his passion for cars and can even travel a little. Leno teamed up with two-time Dakar Rally winner Nani Roma to jump and slide a Mini Countryman All4 racing truck around the dunes in Death Valley, CA.
The Mini-branded trucks are highly modified for off-road duty. They have won the Dakar Rally consecutively in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and even took a 1-2-3 finish in the most recent running. The specialized Minis are propelled over the dunes by a BMW-sourced, diesel engine with a six-speed sequential gearbox and heavy-duty all-wheel drive system with a locking center differential.
It is amusing to see the big smile on Leno's face, and Roma appears a little worried while Jay is driving. If this is what to expect from the post-Tonight Show Jay Leno's Garage videos, then things are only getting better from an already fantastic series. Scroll down to watch Leno and Roma take a Mini through the dunes.
Continue reading Watch Jay Leno bounce around with Dakar winner Roma in his Mini All4Racing
Watch Jay Leno bounce around with Dakar winner Roma in his Mini All4Racing originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 03 Mar 2014 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini Clubman Concept throws open all six of its doors for Geneva
Filed under: Concept Cars, Geneva Motor Show, Hatchback, Mini, Design/Style
Coming in just over 10 inches longer and 6.5 inches wider than the 2013 Mini Clubman, the new Mini Clubman Concept that you see above is set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week. Let's get the maximum mini jokes out of the way right off the bat... Done? Okay, moving along.
Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design, says that this Clubman Concept "shows how the Mini Clubman could be taken a step further: more interior space, a greater sense of high-end quality and yet still clever, bold and distinctive." And that extra interior space will be accessible through four real doors, eschewing the single-sided barn door approach of the current Clubman. Well, mostly - there's still the side-by-side barn door philosophy at the back instead of a more traditional upward-opening hatch. In fact, spy shots and early rumors pegged this more conventionally doored Mini as a new model selling under a new name, possibly Traveller. However, it appears that Mini will stick with the brand equity it has established with Clubman instead.
As you can see in the small image gallery above, the Clubman Concept is instantly recognizable as a Mini, though a somewhat more refined overall package than past efforts. The front headlamps still have a bit of a surprised look to them, but we think this concept's overall fascia, and its unique bright finishes, might be more successful than the latest Cooper's. At the rear, there are a set of rather large taillights dominating the view, and we note that the prevalence of air intakes and scoops at parent BMW have moved on down to the Mini line. We'll have to reserve final judgment until we see the Clubman Concept in person.
Inside the Cooper Clubman Concept is where things take a decidedly more futuristic turn. Looking past the Superman-esque color scheme, we see higher-end materials on the dash and door panels than any Mini before. There are digital gauges aplenty, and a set of controls that change based on the setup of the car.
There's a full press release below with more information to go along with the four images above. Check 'em out and stay tuned for live images and impressions next week. And, for what it's worth, we have a feeling it won't be long before we see a production Clubman boasting four conventional doors arriving on our shores.
Continue reading Mini Clubman Concept throws open all six of its doors for Geneva
Mini Clubman Concept throws open all six of its doors for Geneva originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 25 Feb 2014 19:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Upcoming Mini 5-door hatch spied in the snow
Filed under: Spy Photos, Hatchback, Mini, Design/Style
We are about to get a flood of new Mini models now that the new 2014 model is officially out. In just the past few months, we've seen spy shots of the next-generation John Cooper Works and so-called Traveler crossover, and here we have the upcoming five-door hatchback in Cooper S form, a model that, like the Traveler, is expected to effectively obviate the need for the slow-selling Clubman.
Mini is not exactly hiding that this is a new five-door model, even with its camouflage - the rear door line and handle are clear as day. Also, compared to the three-door Cooper Hardtop, there appears to be an added pillar and additional length at the rear. The hatch also appears to be mounted at a steeper angle than the standard Mini. Also, you have to admit that the Mickey-Mouse-ear fog lights are cute, even if Mini would never actually sell it that way.
Expect to see even more variants soon, if BMW and Mini want to reach their goal of selling over a million front-wheel drive vehicles - an earlier report indicated there could be as many as 23 front-wheel drive cars from the brands in the coming years.
Upcoming Mini 5-door hatch spied in the snow originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Help Mini decide on its next limited-edition Cooper
Filed under: New York Auto Show, Budget, Performance, Etc., Hatchback, Mini, Design/Style
Mini likes to make a big hullabaloo about the number of ways its cars can be configured, which currently stands at 10 million. While that figure is impressive, the BMW-owned brand is always looking for new and unique design variations, a trend that has seen a number of special-edition Minis pop up over the years boasting unique color and trim items.
For the new, third-generation F56 Mini, the British brand is at it again. Only this time, the cars are designed and chosen by Mini's fans in a new contest. Called "The New Originals," Mini teamed its 10 Final Test Test Drive winners with an illustrator to design their perfect Mini, one of which will become the next special-edition model.
The ten cars are currently being voted on by the brand's fans on the Mini USA website, with the winner set to be announced at the 2014 New York Auto Show in April. A total of 56 examples of the winning entry will then be put on sale, making this one of the most limited of Mini's many limited editions. Voting closes on February 19, so hop over to the page and vote for your favorite.
Help Mini decide on its next limited-edition Cooper originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 17 Feb 2014 10:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
First Mini John Cooper Works prototype spied
Filed under: Spy Photos, Performance, Hatchback, Mini
The highlight of Mini's 2014 Detroit Auto Show stand was the arrival of the John Cooper Works Concept, a sportier version of the three-door hatch that presages the next JCW model on the new platform. Now, we have our first images of the production car undergoing winter testing way up north in Sweden.
Really, the Mini camouflage can't hide what this car is. Between the JCW-branded brake calipers and extra intakes in the front fascia, it's fairly easy to see that this is the sportier version of the car our own Jeremy Korzeniewski wrote about last week. We're expecting the JCW variant to pack a fair bit more firepower than the three-cylinder Cooper he tested, of course. Rumors have circulated that the hottest Mini model could jump to 230 horsepower, up from the current, non-GP car's 208.
There are a number of style features missing here, and while it's entirely possible we'll see things like the JCW Concept's diffuser and side gills arrive when this car is shown in production form (or even further along in testing), their absence in these spy photos is telling. We certainly think this car will become the production JCW Hardtop, but there may be another explanation. The lack of certain aesthetic features means this could be a test of the JCW Engine Kit, which in past Minis slotted in between the standard Mini Cooper S and the factory Works car. We'll admit, it's a long-shot, but there is precedent for it - the JCW Tuning Kit arrived a year before the factory model in the last-generation car. The same reasoning could be used to explain the presence of the JCW-branded brakes, which have been another well-known Mini accessory over the years.
As always, we want to hear what you think. Is this a production version of the Detroit concept car, or is it merely a test of the tuning kit? Have your say in Comments.
First Mini John Cooper Works prototype spied originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 14 Feb 2014 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
2014 Mini Cooper
Filed under: Hatchback, Mini, First Drives
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone from Mini refer to 'go-kart-like handling,' I'd be retired, living on a beautiful piece of coastline somewhere in the Caribbean. Perhaps even on the shores of Puerto Rico, where Mini chose to launch its latest Cooper and Cooper S hatchbacks. As with so many frequently used phrases, though, there is indeed some truth to the cliché - while the Mini Cooper has never actually handled quite like a go kart, it has always had a certain directness in its movements, reacting to steering inputs with an immediacy and fervor unlike most any other automobile meant primarily for the street.
Combine those unique driving dynamics with a sense of fun that permeates the entire brand from pre-sales marketing to the actual sales process itself and you end up with a marketplace success. As an ex-Mini owner myself (a 2009 Cooper S Convertible), I can attest to the kinship felt between fellow Mini drivers who share in the knowledge that they are having more fun than the poor appliance-driving masses sharing the highways and byways of these United States. It's no surprise that the style-conscious US continues to be the marque's single largest market year after year.
This enviable brand perception hasn't been attained without its own fair share of flaws, however. Though the quirky design and massively customizable bits and pieces that have made up the Mini brand's interior philosophy since it was reborn in 2001 have proven somewhat endearing, the Cooper Hardtop's ergonomics have always been an unmitigated disaster. Plus, this is a very small car, with a rear seat that's practically uninhabitable by adult-size occupants. While that adjective seemingly goes hand-in-hand with the brand's name, the modern Cooper has never been as ingeniously packaged as its 1959 forbearer, which offered up as much interior space as possible through innovative engineering and minimalist design. Further, parent company BMW has positioned Mini as a premium brand, so the Cooper's diminutive size has never equated to low prices. And for being such a small car, the Cooper historically hasn't been well-known for its fuel efficiency.
With each subsequent redesign, Mini has sought to improve its shortcomings, with a new, slightly larger platform and more efficient engines in 2007 being the most noteworthy updates. Now, for the 2014 model year, Mini has once again completely reengineered the Cooper, making it larger than ever, rethinking the interior packaging and offering a completely new lineup of engine options. Does it all add up to the best one yet?
Continue reading 2014 Mini Cooper
2014 Mini Cooper originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
How Mini shacked up with John Cooper
Filed under: Classics, Performance, Videos, Hatchback, Mini
The late Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, Alec Issignonis to his Internet friends, designed a car that was sold as the Morris Mini-Minor, the Austin Seven and later the Austin Mini. Go to the Mini USA website and check out the models, though, and every one of them is called a Cooper of some sort, e.g., Mini Cooper Paceman or Mini Cooper S Roadster. So who is Cooper?
It's probably obvious that it's the same Cooper we get in "John Cooper Works," those JCW Minis that always make up the top of the line. But many probably don't know that that John Cooper, founder of John Cooper Cars, is the same man who accidentally got the motorsports world to switch to rear-engined race cars and the same Formula One constructor who won two titles in 1959 and 1960 and who fielded drivers like Bruce McLaren and Stirling Moss.
On its way to driving the Mini John Cooper Works GP II, XCAR goes back to the beginning to find out when Alec met John, and how the first Mini Cooper came out in 1961, two years after the first Mini. You can watch the story and the car review in the video below.
Continue reading How Mini shacked up with John Cooper
How Mini shacked up with John Cooper originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 31 Jan 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini prices new Cooper Hardtop from $19,950* as configurator comes online
Filed under: Car Buying, Hatchback, Mini
As surprised as the face of the new 2014 Mini Cooper makes the model look, customers shopping for the third-gen hatchback won't be surprised at all come spring. When the Hardtop goes on sale, it will not only offer a similar design to the outgoing model, it will also have a familiar price with a starting MSRP of $19,950 (*plus $795 for destination).
That price is for the base, third-generation model with the company's new 134-horsepower, 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine, and that MSRP amounts to a $250 increase over the 2013 Cooper. Looking for a little more power? The 189-hp Cooper S will go on sale at the same time, starting at $23,600 - just $300 more than last year's model.
Mini's press release discussing 2014 Cooper pricing is posted below, but for more detailed information on the options and packages, head on over to the live configurator.
Continue reading Mini prices new Cooper Hardtop from $19,950* as configurator comes online
Mini prices new Cooper Hardtop from $19,950* as configurator comes online originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 30 Jan 2014 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini locks out the podium at Dakar Rally
Filed under: Motorsports, Mini
Motor racing is often overcome by dominant forces. In Formula One these days, it's all about Red Bull. Le Mans is absolutely dominated by Audi. Citroën devastated the World Rally Championship for years. And the Dakar Rally is no exception to that particular rule, either.
The Mitsubishi Pajero won the event seven years in a row and many times before that. Then Volkswagen took the lead, winning three years running with competition-spec Touaregs once the rally shifted from North Africa to South America in 2009. But these days it's Mini that dominates.
The Mini All4 Racing team won in 2012, again in 2013 and has just won it again for 2014. Not only did it win again, but it took a devastating 1-2-3 finish to lock out the podium. Over the course of 13 days, Minis won 11 out of 13 of the total stages that make up the grueling rally, at the end of which Nasser Al-Attiyah crossed the line in third, Stéphane Peterhansel finished second, and just five minutes ahead of him, Nani Roma crossed the finish line in Valparaíso in first place. (Of course it didn't hurt that there were no fewer than 11 Minis entered in this year's rally, but still.)
It wouldn't have been the first win for any of the three of them, either: Al-Attiyah won the rally for VW in 2011, Peterhansel has won no fewer than eleven times (including the last two for Mini), and Roma won in 2004 - but in the motorcycle category riding a KTM (as has exclusively been the case for the last 13 years).
Marc Coma won the motorcycle class this year on (you guessed it) a KTM, a trio of Russians took the truck category in a Kamaz and Ignacio Casale won the Quad trophy on a Yamaha. Unfortunately things didn't go as well this year for Belgian rider Eric Palante, who never made it to the finish line - or for the two fans who were killed while following the rally in their own vehicle.
Continue reading Mini locks out the podium at Dakar Rally
Mini locks out the podium at Dakar Rally originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 21 Jan 2014 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini John Cooper Works Concept heading wide-eyed into production
Filed under: Concept Cars, Detroit Auto Show, Hatchback, Mini
We now know that Mini will offer a stupendous number of total models over the next few years, so it's fair to assume that most of the brand's concept cars have series production written all over them. So, a 'concept' like this new John Cooper Works Mini is more or less a mortal lock to hit showrooms in very similar trim.
That's probably a good thing for future JCW owners, as this Mini looks decidedly better than the standard car that debuted in Los Angeles late last year. Something about the bigger grille, lowered front fascia and pumped up wheel arches make the car more visually compelling than the weird-nosed 2014 Mini Hardtop. (At least to this author.)
By hey, don't take our word for it - with the official press release down below, and our box-fresh gallery of live images up above, you can make up your minds for yourselves. Tell us what you think in the Comments.
Continue reading Mini John Cooper Works Concept heading wide-eyed into production
Mini John Cooper Works Concept heading wide-eyed into production originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 13 Jan 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
2014 Mini Cooper goes to the dogs
Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Hatchback, Mini, Humor, Luxury
We wouldn't buy a car to make a dog happy, but Mini's latest commercial, Bullheaded, would have you believe that dogs like the new 2014 Cooper as much as humans. Regardless of the commercial's target audience (Spike The Bulldog, or his owner?), it does show a couple new tidbits about the car, such as the new center dial touchscreen, ambient lighting and the nifty tinted pop-up display on top of the dashboard that reminds us of the head-up display on the new Mazda3.
Head below to watch Spike and his owner drive the Mini in Downtown Los Angeles (and the back lots of Paramount), and to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the commercial was made.
Continue reading 2014 Mini Cooper goes to the dogs
2014 Mini Cooper goes to the dogs originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 17 Dec 2013 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini reveals new John Cooper Works concept ahead of Detroit
Filed under: Concept Cars, Detroit Auto Show, Performance, Hatchback, Mini
BMW effectively hit the reset button when it unveiled the new Mini at the LA Auto Show last month, opening the door to a whole raft of new variants to follow - and this is the first.
Set to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show next month is the new Mini John Cooper Works Concept, a showcar that previews the next hot hatch from the Anglo-Saxon automaker. Mini isn't saying much about what makes it tick, focusing instead of the design that sets it apart from the standard version we've already seen.
This JCW concept features a lustrous grey paintjob with bright red accents, 18-inch alloys and an upgraded aero kit, all aimed at making the Mini look that much sportier. It's got bigger air intakes where the fog lights would be, LED headlamps, a black grille frame, side skirts, a rear bumper with diffuser insert and a roof-mounted spoiler.
Hopefully Mini will tell us what's under the hood and show us what's inside sometime between now and the Detroit show, but in the meantime you can scope out the dozen high-res images in the gallery above and the details in the press release below.
Continue reading Mini reveals new John Cooper Works concept ahead of Detroit
Mini reveals new John Cooper Works concept ahead of Detroit originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 17 Dec 2013 07:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
BMW and Mini shuffle NA management, McDowell to retire
Filed under: Performance, BMW, Mini, Luxury
BMW and Mini recently shuffled top personnel in their design departments, and now BMW of North America will reorganize its management to improve customer relations. Peter Miles (pictured), currently the executive vice president of operations, will take a newly created position, vice president of sales channel development and customer relations, while Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini of the Americas, will retire.
Chris Koenders, president of BMW Group Netherlands, will move take Miles' spot as executive vice president of operations. David Duncan, western region vice president, will take McDowell's job as vice president of Mini of the Americas. Finishing off the management switcharoo is Peter Witt, who will move from his current position as Managing Director of BMW Sweden to take Duncan's job as western region vice president.
"We are intensifying our customer-driven focus and these changes will influence the entire organization to continue improving all phases of the customer journey from prospect to purchase and throughout the ownership cycle," says Ludwig Willisch, president and CEO of BMW NA. For more information on the management reorganization, check out the press release below.
Continue reading BMW and Mini shuffle NA management, McDowell to retire
BMW and Mini shuffle NA management, McDowell to retire originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Dec 2013 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Production Mini Rocketman still in the cards, but not without a partner
Filed under: Budget, Performance, Hatchback, Mini
There's not really any way around it - the new Mini Hardtop isn't all that mini. Considering its supposed to be the smallest model in the brand's lineup, this is hardly desirable. It's good news, then, that rumors are cropping up of a smaller Mini, based on the well-received Rocketman Concept that debuted in 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show.
The report, which comes from our friends at AutoGuide, claims that a production Rocketman is still on the radar of Mini's product chief, Pat McKenna, despite being officially on hold. As Mckenna explained it to AG, "the only way it would happen would be if it was a partnership with another company."
See, the problem is that Mini's current UKL platform, which underpins the new Hardtop along with the future Mini range, is too large for the tiny Rocketman. And since developing new platforms isn't as easy as popping down to the shops for a gallon of milk (nor as cheap), it makes the need for an ally to split the costs a necessity. Success, so far, has been limited.
Mini's failure to find a partner isn't for lack of trying, though, with McKenna telling AutoGuide that the brand's "emphasis on driving performance," has kept it from finding a chassis that was up to the brand's expectations.
This begs the question of which brand is the right fit for Mini, not just in the US market, but around the globe (McKenna himself indicated that the Rocketman would fit into Mini's international operations well). Mini's partnership with Peugeot on the last-generation's turbocharged engine, not to mention the French brand's small-car expertise, could make it a logical partner.
Production Mini Rocketman still in the cards, but not without a partner originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 02 Dec 2013 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini could go even bigger with next Countryman
Filed under: Crossover, Mini
We recently reported that the new family of Minis could balloon from eight models to ten or more, but it's not only the model line that's expected to grow: so too could the largest model itself. That, of course, would be the Countryman, which is already bigger than anything else ever to wear the Mini badge. But if you think the current Countryman is already big enough, the latest reports suggest that it could get even bigger. Apparently parent company BMW feels a larger Mini crossover would better compete with more mainstream models in the marketplace.
The Countryman, however, will only be one of the new variants to spin off of the new third-generation Mini. Expect the new Hardtop hatchback introduced in LA to be followed by a new Cabriolet, Roadster, and Paceman. A five-door version of the base hatchback will also join in addition to the new Clubman, which is tipped to get a split tailgate instead of the single hinged aperture on the current model. The jury's still out on the Mini Coupe, which has largely failed to impress, while a convertible crossover could be back in the mix along with the rumored plug-in hybrid version.
Mini could go even bigger with next Countryman originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 25 Nov 2013 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
2014 Mini Cooper stuns crowd, itself [w/videos]
Filed under: LA Auto Show, Hatchback, Mini, Design/Style
Remember the Mini Rocketman concept from 2011? While we were really, really hoping for a production version - a properly mini Mini - that never happened. And it won't. But what we are getting is a whole lot of that showcar's styling cues applied to the third-generation Mini Cooper hardtop, a model making its debut here at the LA Auto Show. And while from most angles, the new Mini is as cute as ever, we just can't quite warm up to that face - or that huge front overhang. The car simply looks like a frightened goldfish (that yellow paint isn't helping, either).
It should probably be pretty nice to drive, though, with the base Cooper using a new turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine good for 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Friskier Cooper S models get a healthy power increase, their 2.0-liter turbo engines putting out a full 189 hp and 207 lb-ft, with both engines are mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
The car simply looks like a frightened goldfish (that yellow paint isn't helping, either).
The 2014 Cooper also marks the first use of Mini's new Dynamic Damper Control, with two different damper settings (comfort and sport, basically). There are also three different driving modes - Mid, Sport and Green. Mid is the standard setting, and as for the Sport/Green modes, well, you can probably figure out how they function.
There's a revised interior, too, with the same sort of cheeky, circular gauges, though do note that the analog speedometer and the teensy rev counter have now moved out of the center stack and right behind the steering wheel, where they belong. Nothing else inside the new Mini is vastly different from previous models - just a host of fresh updates with what look like more intuitive controls.
Check out our fresh gallery of live shots direct from the LA show floor, and scroll down to watch video footage of the car's unveiling in both Los Angeles and London. We've also included the press blast in case you missed any details the first time around.
Continue reading 2014 Mini Cooper stuns crowd, itself [w/videos]
2014 Mini Cooper stuns crowd, itself [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 21 Nov 2013 14:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Jaguar ousts Lexus from atop J.D. Power 2013 Sales Satisfaction Index
Filed under: Car Buying, Jaguar, Mini
Jaguar has taken the top spot among luxury brands in the 2013 Sales Satisfaction Index, an annual survey conducted by J.D. Power that measures customer satisfaction with the experience of purchasing a new vehicle. The English brand, not even among the top three luxury automakers on the list last year, vaulted ahead of Lexus, which placed third this year after leading the list in 2011 and 2012. Porsche, meanwhile, moved into second place.
The rankings are based on a point score out of 1,000, with Jaguar earning 740 points, Porsche right behind with 739 and Lexus with 737. Volvo, meanwhile, made the biggest improvement among luxury brands with a 30-point jump to 708, bring it up from 11th place to 9th this year.
J.D. Power has a separate ranking for mass-market brands, and this year Mini again tops the list with a score of 718, far outpacing second-place Buick with a score of 694 and making it the fourth time Mini has lead this list. After Buick, the next two ranked brands are both American and both from General Motors, with Chevrolet and GMC sharing third place with a score of 686.
In studying the new-car buying experience, J.D. Power also found that customer satisfaction was higher when salespeople used tablets during the buying process. When such devices were used by salespeople to collect information, demonstrate features or display pricing and payment information, the customer satisfaction score was some 52 points higher - 844 vs. 792 on the study's 1,000-point scale. Despite their positive effect, tablets are presently used by only 10 percent of dealerships, according to the study. Given the influential nature of J.D. Power studies, we're willing to bet you'll soon see a lot more of these computers at dealers near you in short order.
Continue reading Jaguar ousts Lexus from atop J.D. Power 2013 Sales Satisfaction Index
Jaguar ousts Lexus from atop J.D. Power 2013 Sales Satisfaction Index originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 18 Nov 2013 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop officially revealed [UPDATE]
Filed under: LA Auto Show, Hatchback, Mini
There are occasions in life when something happens in the outside world and I think, "Damn. I wish Dad was here so we could talk about this."
In the past 13 years, that's happened every time Mini unveils a new model. And that's been quite often in the 12 years since the car was reintroduced - it has expanded to include seven different models, which is a testament to how quickly the updated Mini caught on. My Dad, who passed away in 1996, loved the brand. His first car was a Mini, and he'd race it in illegal rallies around the Irish countryside in his 20s, before he emigrated to the US and tried to (mostly) stay on the right side of the law.
Mini released photos and specs for the third-generation "original" hardtop car today. The company had to slap in the term "original" in there to differentiate it from the Convertible, longer-wheelbase Clubman, Countryman crossover, Paceman three-door crossover, Coupe and Roadster. Coming out with that many nameplates in 13 years is unprecedented growth for a company that's essentially brand-new in the US.
"Every year Mini convinces more and more people to consider small," Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA, told Autoblog. The brand thinks there's room enough for one more Mini model, McDowell said, which he promises will be "as radical in this decade as the original was in 1959."
"Every year Mini convinces more and more people to consider small."
But the new Mini hardtop isn't a radical departure from the older version. It's the same height as the recent model, has the same bulldog stance and wide front grille. But the nose is a little boxier, the headlights look like big, buggy eyes, and the car seems larger overall and carries more heft. The new design shows how the brand is maturing, the company said in a press release, and shows what Mini can do to maximize interior space, safety features, interior finishes, and keeping a sporty ride.
The new Mini, which hits the market in March 2014, will be available with two new engines. The Mini Cooper has a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine making 134 horsepower with maximum torque of 162 pound-feet, and the Mini Cooper S has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 189 horsepower and max torque of 207 lb-ft. Both engines use Mini's TwinPower turbo technology, and direct-injection. The company promises that increased engine efficiency, enhanced aerodynamics and a lighter car will result in better fuel economy figures, although it hasn't release those numbers yet.
The interior, which is a huge part of Mini's identity, has been updated as well. The car keeps a lot of its circular gauges, but the layout has been tweaked a bit to make it more user-friendly. Mini owners will either love or hate the fact that the window controls have been moved from the center of the car to the door panels, where they sit for most other car models.
Both engines use Mini's TwinPower turbo technology, and direct-injection.
It's tricky to update an iconic car like the Mini. Few other models, except cars like the Porsche 911 and Volkswagen Beetle, have to work the balance between making a car that's modern but doesn't abandon or alienate its core buyers.
"We don't change our cars just for newness sake," McDowell said. "We change to make it better. Our designers understand that there's a very definite Mini design vocabulary, and as long as they work within that vocabulary, there is a lot they can do."
Mini isn't releasing US pricing right now, but European pricing is already set. The Mini Cooper will start at 17,900 euros, and the Cooper S will start at 23,800 euros.
UPDATE: The original Mini was introduced in 1959, not 1969 as our original text stated. The typo has been rectified. Thanks to all who caught this and wrote in.
Continue reading 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop officially revealed [UPDATE]
2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop officially revealed [UPDATE] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 18 Nov 2013 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Mini Traveller MPV caught on flatbed with five-door Mini and convertible
Filed under: Spy Photos, Convertible, Coupe, Hatchback, Mini
With the next-gen Mini Cooper hardtop set for its big debut next week at the LA Auto Show, we're getting a good look at what will be coming next for the BMW brand. Mini will follow up the introduction of the Mini Cooper with the new convertible model, but our spy shooters have proof that a plus-sized model (rumored to be called Traveller or Spacebox) is coming along quite well.
There still isn't much information about the Traveller (shown above), which will be longer and wider than the Countryman, but we can tell that it takes dimensional cues from both the Countryman and Clubman to maximize passenger and cargo space. The face of this new model will definitely be closer to the 2015 Cooper, and it will have a split rear door setup like the Clubman. Like the more recent Countryman and Paceman designs, though, the Traveller will have horizontally positioned taillights instead of the Cooper's vertical lights. We have no indication as to when we'll be seeing the Traveller in production form, but this prototype seems to be in the final stages of development.
As for the Cooper, we've already spied the hardtop completely uncovered, and just recently we spotted the sportier Cooper S Convertible being transported on a flatbed. The dual center-outlet exhaust is the key tell that model was the S, which likely means that the droptop spotted here the base model.
Mini Traveller MPV caught on flatbed with five-door Mini and convertible originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 15 Nov 2013 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments