Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review

May 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini’s new Countryman has been launched amid serious anticipation and with a tough task ahead. To really succeed it requires people to reconsider everything they know about a brand they instantly recognise and mostly admire. When the Mini first appeared in 1959, it was a budget car for the people, a distinctive machine that was attainable and the world loved it. Then in 2001 BMW reinvented the Mini in a modern form, some people weren’t so hot on it, many others were, but we all got used to this new Mini and grew to accept it. Now, in an understandable effort to broaden its model range and appeal, Mini has launched its new Countryman. With four doors and significantly larger dimensions it comes asking new questions of the public. Can people accept that Mini as a company is more than just one model with different variations? Can the Countryman be a viable option for practical-focused families and modern lifestyles? Will it still retain enough appeal for Mini enthusiasts and offer traditional go-kart-style driving dynamics? Car and SUV strapped into Mini’s top spec Countryman ALL4 in search of the answers.

Minis are most famous for being mini in stature so it’s no surprise that many folk are getting all caught up on the Countryman’s plus-size proportions. For the record it’s 4,110mm in length, 1,561mm in height and is quite wide at 1,996mm. This makes the Countryman 381mm longer, 128mm higher and 104mm wider than a regular modern Mini. Think of it as a large hatchback or a small crossover vehicle. Continue reading “Mini Countryman Cooper S ALL4 2011 Review” »

Mini officially launches WRC team and car (+video)

April 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini’s re-entry on to the international rallying scene has now reached fever pitch with the official launch of the team less than a month ahead of its first WRC event, the Rally d’Italia Sardegna (May 5 – 8). In an event held at the company’s plant in Oxford, England, the all-new Mini WRC Team unveiled its two Countryman-based Mini John Cooper Works WRC cars, and introduced its drivers/co-drivers for 2011.

Using the Countryman as a base, the MINI WRC car was a team effort between Prodrive and BMW Motorsport. BMW sorted out the 1.6-litre turbo engine, which was built to comply with FIA Super 2000 regulations, including the World Touring Car Championship. Prodrive will run the MINI works team on a daily basis and will also supply customer cars to other teams, in both WRC or S2000 guise.

Mini’s main objective in its debut season is to gain experience and prepare to take on a full 2012 season. This year the team will compete in six events: Rally Italy (May 5 – 8), Rally Finland (July 28 – 31), Rally Germany (August 18 – 21), Rally France (September 29 – October 2), Rally Spain (October 20 – 23) and Rally Great Britain (November 10 – 13).

The wheel men controlling the two cars will be Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo, with co-drivers Paul Nagle and Carlos Del Barrio respectively. Continue reading “Mini officially launches WRC team and car (+video)” »

Mini counting down to international motorsport return

March 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The wait is almost over for the return of Mini to the international motorsport stage. This season, the new Mini WRC Team will compete at selected rounds in the FIA World Rally Championship. The initial aim is to gain valuable experience, in order to be perfectly prepared for the complete 2012 World Championship season. The Mini John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive, based on the Mini Countryman. It’s equipped with a 1.6-litre turbo engine derived from the Mini production models, which was developed by BMW Motorsport for use in a series run according to FIA Super2000 regulations, including the World Touring Car Championship. Beside its works involvement with the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, Prodrive is also supplying customer cars to private rally teams.

“The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand,” says Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW Group. “Experience is a very important factor in motorsport. For that reason it is essential we learn as much as possible within a very short time, in order to make up ground on our rivals. The new regulations mean the gap to the top is smaller than it would have been at another time. We want to annoy the opposition as soon as possible.” Continue reading “Mini counting down to international motorsport return” »

Mini’s Carmonica makes sweet music – now you can too (+video)

March 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini NZ has come up with another interactive and choice way of marketing its cars. This time round, 300 harmonicas have been strapped to a Mini Clubman and are all tuned to the key of G. To play all 300 harmonicas at once you can save your breath and just drive this modified Mini Clubman through the streets. This creation is called the Carmonica and you may have seen it on TV earlier but now there is a new twist.

The Mini New Zealand website now lets you take various audio clips from the Carmonica’s adventures and you can make your own sweet electronic jam. While it’s unlikely you’ll be the next superstar DJ to dominate the Kiwi music scene it’s a bit of fun and a worthwhile work time waster.

Click here to check out Mini New Zealand’s website and make your own Carmonica jam. Apparently you’ll be able to share/terrorise your friends with your Carmonica sound clips soon, but that feature isn’t live just yet. Continue reading “Mini’s Carmonica makes sweet music – now you can too (+video)” »

Mini Countryman – NZ pricing and availability announced

January 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Mini NZ has announced further details of the eagerly anticipated Mini Countryman, set to arrive in New Zealand next month.

The Mini Countryman is touted to offer the unique handling of a regular Mini with the practical space and versatility of a four-door, plus the traction of a Sports Activity Vehicle optimised by optional all-wheel drive.

Marking a new chapter in the evolution of Mini as a brand, the Countryman is more than four metres long with four doors, the option of four or five seats and a four wheel drive option called “ALL4″.

Mini Countryman pricing will start at $46,900 for the Cooper Countryman and the Mini Cooper D Countryman, featuring a 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine, will start at $49,900.

All variants feature a six-speed manual as standard and offer an optional six-speed automatic transmission for an additional $3,000.

There are two all-new ALL4 models added to the line-up, which cost an extra $3,000 compared with their two-wheel drive counterparts. Continue reading “Mini Countryman – NZ pricing and availability announced” »

2011 Mini Paceman concept – officially unveiled

December 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Rumours have been circulating about what concept Mini would launch at next month’s Detroit Auto Show with many guessing an even smaller Mini micro car. But today rumours have been put to rest with the announcement that Mini will take its new Paceman concept.

Based heavily on the upcoming Countryaman, Mini has removed the rear doors and turned it into a coupe. There are plenty of subtle styling tweaks, and Mini have created a new category for the vehicle labeling it the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe in the small-car segment.

Visually, the Paceman starts identically to the Countryman up front, where it uses the same grille as the higher-powered Cooper S Countryman. Behind the front clip, the Paceman has a shorter, more sloping roofline. Large 19-inch wheels are fitted, suggesting greater performance for the two-door edition. On the rear, the Paceman has more of a horizontal design theme, with a lower, smaller glass area and taillamps that wrap around and are turned 90 degrees from their vertical installation in the Countryman.

Even with the missing rear doors, the Paceman is the same size as its Countryman donor car, measuring the same 4110mm in length and 1789mm width. Thanks to the chopped roofline however, the Paceman’s height is shorter by 20mm at 1541mm.

Under the burly bonnet lays the same 1.6 litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine found in the brand’s John Cooper Works models, which produces 155kW and 260Nm of torque.

As with the Countryman, the Paceman also features Mini’s All4 permanent all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to the full 100 percent of power to the rear axle if the front wheels completely lose traction. The front axle also features an electronic LSD system to further improve grip. Continue reading “2011 Mini Paceman concept – officially unveiled” »

Mini ready to eat sand with the X-Raid All4 Countryman

December 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new four-door Mini Countryman hasn’t reached our shores yet, but it’s already making waves in the motorsport world. One place you wouldn’t expect to usually see a Mini is in the hardcore Dakar Rally Series where vehicles are put through a rugged endurance test over the harshest terrains.

Not just any Mini Countryman would be up to the task, so the X-Raid Racing Team got busy turning a stock model into the sand-eating beast you see above. What was created was the Mini All4 Racing, which is part of the X-raid’s seven-car Dakar team. It took just 90 days to complete the racing model with the Mini Design team and Magna Steyr partnering with X-raid on the project.

This newest Dakar racer is powered by the same twin-turbo diesel engine as in the 2011-specification BMW X3 CC. It’s a powerful unit that pumps out 232 kW, but more importantly 710 Nm of torque. Within the team’s ranks the MINI All4 will replace an outgoing 2010 BMW X3CC.

Switching to the Countryman has a number of benefits, including better handling from the vehicle’s lower center of gravity and shorter wheelbase. But going the distance will be the ultimate test for the iconic machine.

The car will be driven by the French rally team of Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Michel Perin.

Mini reveals Countryman WRC car at Paris Show

October 1st, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

It’s official, Mini is back on the world rallying scene and this is the machine to take it there. Visitors to the Paris Motor Show have just witnessed the unveiling of Mini’s brand new rally weapon and it looks ‘the business’.

Working in with Prodrive, Mini is poised to re-enter the World Rally Championship after many decades painfully watching from the sidelines. Now, with its Countryman WRC, Mini is once again ready to compete in the 2011 season with the car driven by Kris Meeke.

The 2011 World Rally Championship will be a preparatory year for Mini and will see the new machine contesting in six of 13 scheduled rounds, with Mini then competing in the full 2012 season. In addition, Prodrive plans to make available customer versions to independent teams for use in the championship.

Wedged under the bonnet is a BMW Motorsport-tuned 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that uses direct injection and meets all FIA S2000 regulations (meaning it may have more applications outside the WRC). The powerhouse four-pot is mated to an Xtrac 6-speed sequential transmission. According to Mini the car has been extensively tested on Prodrive’s own rally track and represented itself well and is now ready to rock.

BMW’s Ian Robertson had this to say on the Mini WRC launch, “The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage on which to launch our MINI WRC. The response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car is running on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger.”

Continue reading “Mini reveals Countryman WRC car at Paris Show” »

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