Friday 20 October 2017

No such thing as too many MINI models for true fans

CHOICE IS KING: There are now six variants of the the MINI
CHOICE IS KING: There are now six variants of the the MINI

Martin Brennan

ONCE upon a time there was mini. Now there are many MINIs, in fact, some would suggest so many that punters are getting confused.

But BMW knows a good thing and since snapping up the iconic brand 12 years ago, it is churning out a model or derivative for everyone in the audience. There are now six variants and some would calculate over 700 derivatives with thousands of options to customise.

In the world of cars, choice is king, so roll on BMW, the more choice, the merrier. As the wraps come off the new three-door hatch, there is news of two more additions in 2015, a five-door MINI hatch for family use and a new Clubman which will have four passenger doors (plus two boot doors) instead of the three-door arrangement. And there is a MINI ONE also.

The new MINI has a smart fresh look, new engines, and it sits on BMW's new front-wheel-drive platform which will also be used in some BMW models as well as the MINI. Front-wheel drive in smaller BMW models will be welcomed by many motorists but die-hard engineers will be watching for reaction and the pace of change is expected to be carefully considered.

Styling is all important for MINI fans and the lights are a big feature of the new look. They are not the only thing that has got bigger, the MINI itself is now 99mm longer, 44mm wider and 7mm taller than the outgoing model.

These are important changes. First there is more boot space -- up from 160 litres to 211 and there are options to create more room by seat adjustments. But even with the extension, legroom in the rear is still relatively tight.

Also the new under-floor dimensions gives improved handling although designers make the point that the trademark 'karting' ride is retained. BMW has sold 2.5 million MINIs since taking on the brand but say certain characteristics will not change.

This is the third generation hatch and there are specification upgrades for the interior. The speedometer, fuel gauge and rev counter have been moved from the big central dial to directly in front of the driver on the steering column. The big dial is now used for the infotainment displays and all smart phone systems can now be accommodated.

LED lights on the dash work with parking sensors and change colour depending on how much space there is to park in. There are lots of upgrades available, nine-inch colour screen and improvements to Sat/Nav connectivity. Bluetooth is standard.

The new MINI goes on sale next spring. Prices start at €22,530 for the 1.5 litre 3-cylinder 134bhp petrol Cooper. The high performance 2-litre 4-cylinder 189bhp Cooper S comes in at €28,030.

Martin Brennan

Irish Independent

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