June 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Being the fastest of the bunch is seldom a bad thing, extra speed usually equals extra kudos. This fact hasn’t been wasted on the BMW Group which recently set about building the world’s fastest Mini.
Called the Eagle concept car, this mean Mini was pieced together by specialist BMW tuner AC Schnitzer. To prove its ability and take its place as the Asafa Powell of Minis, the concept was taken to the Hockenheim circuit where it turned in a cracking lap time of 1:13.34. To put things into perspective a standard issue Ferrari California achieves a time of 1:13.5 and a Porsche 911 Turbo 1:14.6 – so the Mini was very rapid indeed.
The Eagle is based on the standard John Coooper Works platform and uses a modded version of its 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. Power output is fairly modest at 194kW but the vehicle’s weight has been further reduced by 80kg. Other tweaks include height adjustable racing suspension and sharp 18-inch alloys with sport tyres. Continue reading “AC Schnitzer builds Eagle concept – world’s fastest Mini (+video)” »
June 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
Mini has just released details of an aggressive new pricing strategy spanning most of its NZ model range. The entry price for a new Mini will now start at $27,900 and the recommended retail price of most new models will be reduced by between four or five thousand dollars.
This new competitive pricing will make Mini a more accessible option for those looking at purchasing a small, economical hatch in the NZ market.
“This price realignment will mean many more Mini fans can share in the dynamic go-kart like driving experience of this premium small car,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group, Mark Gilbert.
“Mini is renowned for its fun to drive and playful, boundary pushing nature, and is one of only a few brands which has an iconic 50 year plus heritage. Most people have a special memory or experience with Mini and this will give more motorists the opportunity to re-engage with their Mini experience.”
The entry model to the range, Mini Ray, is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and weighs just 1135kg. Fuel economy is frugal at 5.4-litres per 100km combined. Continue reading “Mini slashes pricing on most NZ models” »
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” »
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)” »
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” »
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)” »
February 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham
After months of “are they really a couple” rumours BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen have officially hopped into bed together to work on a hybrid drivetrain.
Building all the systems and hardware that goes into crafting a hybrid drivetrain can be highly expensive so the two Automotive heavyweights have joined forces. The companies are set to partner up on everything from battery packs and generators to software and chargers. However the main goal of the corporate marriage is to build an open European hybrid platform which will give them a little bit of structure and an edge in the upcoming electrified battle.
The joint venture is expected to get under way in the next few months, and BMW says that the first products to make use of the new technology will be on roads by 2014 at the earliest. According to reports, the very first vehicles to carry the new-age hybrid gear under its bonnet will likely be the Mini Countryman or a Countryman-based model.