BMW and Peugeot hook up for a hybrid drivetrain

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.

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” »

Mini to debut high-torque Cooper SD in Geneva

January 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Mini family of vehicles is continuing to grow with more body styles and models but the latest addition appears to be a new engine option.

Rumours and speculation is flying around that Mini is on the verge of launching a new high-performance diesel engine at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in March. The cars fitted with this new motor will carry the SD designation (combining the S from the top-spec gasoline engine with the D from the diesel model).

While official details haven’t been announced yet early reports are indicating it could be a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine which will produce 106kW of power and up to 305Nm of torque. That’s a solid measure of torque and if that figure is true the SD engine will easily surpass the torque figures produced by any of the existing Mini engines — even the JCW model. If it goes ahead expect the Mini Cooper SD to be a strong performer.

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 to get new chief designer – how hard can it be?

December 3rd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mini as a brand is strongly driven by style. Naturally, Minis are also solid performers and score highly in fun-to-drive tests but it’s the styling which remains the brand’s biggest selling point.

It was Alec Issigonis who first penned the iconic shape and design but it was a man named Gert Volker Hildebrand, who reinvented the Mini with its modern design language. That means Hildebrand is responsible for the reborn Cooper from 2001 and the varinats that followed – the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman. He also oversaw the designs of the Mini Coupe and Roadster (pictured) concepts from 2009, which are now on the verge of full production.

It won’t be an easy act to follow for Mini’s new chief designer, and who has the tough task? Hildebrand’s replacement will be Anders Warming, who currently serves as head of Exterior Design, BMW Automobiles. Warming is already used to big projects and is responsible for some recently updated models from BMW that include the Z4, 5 Series and, most recently, the 6 Series Concept Coupe.

Paul ‘The Modfather’ Weller creates unique Mini for charity

November 17th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Like its near relation BMW, Mini likes to dabble a bit with art cars. Often they team up with top fashion designers to produce a one-off model which are then auctioned off for the benefit of HIV/AIDS research and awareness. That said, the latest special Mini is something different entirely.

For this unique model, Mini got in touch with British musician Paul Weller. Often known as “The Modfather,” Weller was a member of successful bands The Jam and The Style Council before embarking on a solo career. This is the first time Weller has lent his hand to automotive art.

Weller’s inspiration for the design – which features bold pink and brown stripes across the car’s entire body and is finished with a single silver line running up the bonnet and over the roof – comes from the colours in a Ben Sherman shirt he designed for the clothing brand some years ago.

Mini UK’s Director, Jochen Goller says “Both Mini and Paul Weller are synonymous with the quintessential British mod scene. That’s why we were the ideal match to create this unique car.”

Paul Weller said “I’ve always loved and driven Minis so when I was given the opportunity to design a bespoke Mini Cooper I wanted to create something that reflected the mood and colours associated with the Mod era, which was also the classic Mini’s hey day. I’d already expressed these colours in a shirt I designed for Ben Sherman a few years ago, so it made sense to me to continue the theme using a Mini Cooper as a palate.

The special pink-striped Mini he designed is being auctioned online to benefit the War Child and Nordoff Robins charities.

Check out more images of the Modfather Mini in the gallery below. Continue reading “Paul ‘The Modfather’ Weller creates unique Mini for charity” »

Mini launches new Cooper D – NZ’s greenest car

November 5th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mini has just launched a refreshed product range in NZ and headlining the new arrivals is the release of the greenest-ever model available for sale in New Zealand.

Fresh from success as the most fuel efficient vehicle in the recent EnergyWise Rally, the new Cooper D with its 1.6-litre diesel powertrain now sets a record as the first Mini with carbon emissions of less than 100 grams a kilometre (99g/km).

This new green engine also delivers a significant gain of 30Nm of torque, up to 270Nm, and a power increase of 2kW (up to 82kW).  Fuel consumption is a lowly 3.8l/100km.

“The rationale for buying Mini is clear cut and is one of the few vehicles where there is no ‘head versus heart’ argument,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group New Zealand Limited, Mark Gilbert. “Mini offers a dynamic go-kart like driving experience but also offers unbelievable fuel economy and excellent green credentials.  This superb new engine delivers considerably improved acoustic and consumption properties and will set new standards for fuel efficiency in this category.”

In addition to the new diesel powertrain, fresh visual enhancements include new alloy wheel options, a range of new colours and a variety of interior treatments which can be personalised to customer requirements.

Standard safety features include ABS, DSC, driver and front passenger airbags with occupant detector, side airbags for front seats and curtain head airbags. To meet new EU pedestrian safety guidelines, Mini is now 99mm longer to allow for larger deformation zones to reduce the risk of injury in a collision with a pedestrian or cyclist. The short overhangs and Mini proportions are still maintained, retaining the go-kart style that Mini is famous for.

All Mini variants now have new tail lights with LED technology to enhance safety in low-visibility conditions and offer a more contemporary appearance. The reversing light and rear fog lights are now located in the lower section of the rear bumper.

“These enhancements to Mini will make it an even more desirable proposition than ever before,” said Mr Gilbert. “Very few models can claim such widespread appeal and what has contributed to this success is that Mini is a fun vehicle which is very enjoyable to drive.”

The new Mini range is available from $38,900 and fans can purchase a new model through any one of four different retail channels.

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