INTRODUCING THE NEW MINI, THE NEW ORIGINAL
• Contemporary evolution of classic MINI design, wîth improved features and technology previously limited to luxury vehicles
• Debut of new ground-breaking three- and four-cylinder engines
• New comfort and safety technologies bring MINI to the forefront of the premium small car §egmènt
• State-of-the-art connectivity and premium technology including new driver assistance equipment Woodcliff Lake, NJ – November 18, 2013...
The new MINI Hardtop carries forward its predecessor's aspiration to remaining the leading original of the premium small car §egmènt, underpinning its outstanding position wîth significant advancements in all areas relating to driving fun, quality and individual flair. The evolutionary refinement of its design signals the more mature character of the new model, reflected in a significant optimization of such aspects as space, safety, fittings, materials and finish quality as well as sportiness and ride comfort. The enhancement of product substance embodied in the new MINI Hardtop derives directly from the BMW Group's outstanding development expertise and takes on a more extensive form than ever before in the history of the brand. A new generation of engines increases driving fun and efficiency, and there is a wider selection of innovative driver assistance systems as well as MINI Connected infotainment facilities. LED headlamps and the MINI Head-Úp Display are other highlights in the equipment program only previously found in higher vehicle §egmènts, further underscoring the premium character of the new MINI.
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Two newly developed power units featuring MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology are available to choose from at the market launch of the new MINI Hardtop in March 2014. The new MINI Cooper has a 3-cylinder engine wîth a peak output of 134 bhp. The 4-cylinder engine of the MINI Cooper S mobilizes 189 bhp. Another new feature: the standard 6-speed manual transmission, along wîth a 6-speed automatic transmission that is optionally available for all engine variants. Increased engine efficiency, extensive MINIMALISM technology, optimized weight and enhanced aerodynamic properties go together to produce a reduction in fuel consumption.
Classic MINI proportions, the characteristic three-way separation of body, all-round greenhouse and roof together wîth a new take on hallmark design features define the exterior of the new model, which has grown by some 4.5 inches in length. Its interior offers extended spatial comfort on all four seats as well as a luggage compartment volume expanded by 3 cubic feet to a total of 8.7 cubic feet.
A new display and operating concept combines the typical brand-style look and feel of the cockpit wîth optimized functionality. Road speed and engine speed along wîth other key driving-related information is shown in the newly designed instrument cluster on the §teering column. The characteristic central instrument wîth an optional color display of up to 8.8 inches in size provides feedback on operations performed using the MINI Controller in the center console as well as giving visual feedback on driving condition and on numerous functions activated by the driver.
The new MINI Driving Modes allow an individual set-up involving not just the characteristic curve of the accelerator and §teering but also engine acoustics, and in the MINI Cooper S – provided the relevant features are present - ambient lighting, the shift times of the automatic transmission and the characteristics of Dynamic Damper Control, the latter system being optionally available for the first time. The modes SPORT and GREEN can be activated in addition to the standard MID mode. In conjunction wîth an automatic transmission, the efficiency-oriented GREEN mode also features a coasting function wîth decoupled drivetrain.The range of optional driver assistance systems has been significantly expanded.
For the first time there is an extendible Head-Úp Display above the §teering column available for the new MINI, a Driving Assistant system including camera-based active cruise control, collision and pedestrian warning, high beam assistant and speed limit information, and also a parking assistant and a rear view camera.
Únique within the competitive environment, the MINI in-car infotainment program moves into a whole new dimension. Functions which can be integrated in the vehicle via apps in the areas of social networks and infotainment are now available for both the Apple iPhone and for smartphones using the operating system Android.Exterior design: unmistakable proportions, striking lines, high-end highlights.
The new MINI Hardtop sets out to continue the global success story as the first ever premium automobile in the small car §egmènt. At the same time it carries forward the tradition of the classic MINI that stretches back over more than 50 years. Its design reflects these historical roots, as well as an evolutionary refinement of the modern vehicle concept. The hallmark brand proportions have been preserved thanks to precisely defined expansion of the exterior dimensions. These also help give the new MINI a compact and powerful appearance which symbolizes its agile character, geared consistently towards inspiring driving fun.
The body of the new MINI Hardtop is 151.1 inches long (MINI CooperS: 151.9 inches), 68 inches wide and 55.7 inches high. This makes it 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider and 0.3 inches higher than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been extended by 1.1 inches to 98.2 inches, while the track width has been enlarged at the front by 1.7 inches and at the rear by 1.3 inches to a total of 59.1 inches in each case (MINI Cooper S: 58.5 inches). Cornering agility and ride comfort benefit from these new dimensions as do the amount of space available to occupants and the luggage compartment volume. The extended adjustment range of the front seats, a seat surface lengthened by 0.9 inches and a perceptible increase in shoulder room provide more foot space and freedom of movement as well as optimized entry comfort for rear passengers. Luggage compartment volume has been increased by 3 cubic feet to 8.7 cubic feet.
Like its proportions, the car's hallmark brand styling and the three-way separation of body structure that is so typical of MINI both contribute to its unmistakable appearance. The body, greenhouse and roof on top are clearly separated from one another in visual terms. The glass surface wîth the dark body columns forms a harmonious cover extending across the entire automobile. From the side view, the window graphic tapering off to the rear creates a dynamic wedge shape which is suggestive of the forward thrust characterizing the new MINI. The wide track and short overhangs emphasize the vehicle's body more strikingly than ever before as it sits powerfully on top of the wheels. The athletic stature of the new MINI Hardtop is additionally underscored by the visual link between the front and rear wheel arches. This is created by means of a striking sill line along wîth a character line running above and virtually parallel to it in the side view. The two lines feature a dynamic downward curve at both front and rear, thereby directing attention to the two large wheel arches.
Traditional design features such as the hexagonal contour of the radiator grill, the side indicator surrounds known as side scuttles, the circular headlights, the upright rear light clusters and the black periphery around the bottom edge of the body are reinterpreted. Selected design features are given a particularly high-end emphasis by means of a novel surface design in their specific environment. The contours of the headlamps, rear light clusters and wheel arches are highlighted by means of precise edging. The visual effect of the side scuttle elements and the additional headlights in the front apron is enhanced by means of striking lines on the adjacent surfaces in each case.
The MINI Cooper S draws its model-specific sporty flair from such features as a radiator grille wîth honeycomb pattern, an additional opening in the bonnet, brake air ducts integrated in the lower air inlets and a separate rear apron wîth exhaust tailpipes arranged at the center. In addition to the side scuttle elements, the radiator grill of this model variant now also bears an 'S' logo wîth chrome surround.Únique in the §egmènt: LED headlamps and adaptive light distribution.
Detailed design revision has been applied to both the classic circular headlamps, featuring a wide chrome ring surround, and the circular additional headlamps integrated in the front apron. The light sources of the headlamps are clearly structured, wîth the arched turn indicators arranged in the lower section. In the standard version, the daytime driving light and the side light is produced inside the additional headlights, while fog lamps can also be included here as an optional extra.
The new MINI Hardtop is the first car in its §egmènt to offer the option of LED headlamps. The bright white LED units provide the light source for both low and high beam. They are also surrounded by an LED daylight driving ring, the lower section of which reaches down to the white turn indicators. Another option is an adaptive light distribution function that ensures optimum illumination of the road surface and roadside - depending on situation and route profile - and also includes a turning light. The fog lamps are available in LED, according to preference. In conjunction wîth the LED headlamps, the rear light clusters also come as LED units.
For the market launch of the new MINI Hardtop, the selection of exterior body finishes has been extended to include five new colors. The roof and exterior mirror caps can be finished in a contrasting color - white or black - as an option and at no extra cost. Roof rails are also available for the new MINI for the first time. Other ways of adding a touch of individual style include white or black bonnet stripes and Chrome Line for the exterior.Interior design: hallmark MINI style, new display and operating concept.
Precise lines, high-end color and material combinations and modern functionality highlight the orientation of the new MINI towards driving fun and a premium interior ambience. The horizontal structure of the cockpit and the circular or elliptical contours of key features such as air outlets, instruments and door trim elements are classic design components which take on a more sophisticated and especially high- quality form in the new MINI. A new display and operating concept provides the ideal basis for safe, intuitive and convenient control of the driver assistance, infotainment and comfort systems, which have been significantly expanded in terms of the functions available.
One of the most important new features is the instrument cluster on the §teering column. Road speed, engine speed and fuel level are displayed on horizontally arranged circular instruments. The speedometer scale includes a color panel for Check Control messages, vehicle status displays and visual indicators relating to driver assistance systems currently activated.
Key insertion as previously required is no longer necessary in the cockpit of the new MINI. As soon as the key is inside the car, the engine of the new MINI can be started by pressing the toggle-type start/stop button located in the middle of the center console, which lights up red. Above the toggle switch there are three circular control switches for heating and air conditioning. The operating switches for the headlamps and fog lamps have also been repositioned and are now located on the instrument cluster next to the §teering wheel. The electrically controlled power window lifts in the new MINI are integrated in the door trim panels.Central instrument wîth new functions and impressive lighting configuration.
With its new indicator elements and extended functionality, the hallmark MINI central instrument intensifies interaction between driver and car. Depending on the car's fittings, the center of its interior surface serves as a 4-line TFT display or else a color screen up to 8.8 inches in size which shows operating feedback for vehicle functions, infotainment and communication, navigation maps and route directions as well as the special graphics for MINI Connected Services. The selection and control of these functions is facilitated by a new controller in the center console which comes in conjunction wîth the Radio MINI Visual Boost or the MINI navigation system. Rotary, pressure and shift movements as well as one-touch and bookmark buttons allow for intuitive, safe and convenient operation based on the principles of the BMW iDrive system - a ground-breaking force throughout the entire automotive sector.
The innovative display and operating concept is supported by a lighting design in the area of the central instrument which is unique to MINI. LED units around the outer edge of the circular instrument - available in six colors - can respond to the current situation on the road and to specific operating steps, according to driver preference. For example, the hand movements of the road speed and engine speed display in the instrument cluster are underpinned by light impulses at the edge of the central instrument. When Park Distance Control is activated, the remaining distance to obstacles is shown by means of a ring of light which is illuminated in green, yellow or red - supplementing the graphic display. A change in the desired interior temperature is confirmed by LED units which light up in blue or red. Route guidance information provided by the navigation system is also visually supported by the illuminated ring: the closer the car gets to the turn-off point, the smaller the lit-up area at the edge of the central instrument.Typical MINI diversity of colors and materials for maximum individual flair.
Increased interior space and a wide range of clever details make for further advancements in the area of functionality. The rear backrest wîth a 60 : 40 split is not only foldable, its tilt angle can be adjusted too. Numerous cup holders and storage facilities make it easy to take drinks and travel utensils along in the car, and there is an additional storage compartment behind the decorative strip on the passenger side. A storage package is also optionally available that includes a double load compartment floor, additional lashing eyes and nets for the luggage compartment, along wîth map pouches for the backrests of the front seats.
Seats in a fabric/leather combination and leather finish are offered as an alternative to the standard leatherette version. The MINI Cooper S is fitted wîth sports seats as standard: these are available as optional extras for Cooper variants. A model-specific selection of upholstery colors, interior surfaces, Color Lines and other design features - including Chrome Line for the interior - offers a wide range of possibilities for interior customization.New engines wîth MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology.
The launch of the new MINI sees a change of generation in the area of engines. For the first time both 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder engines are used, all featuring MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology. In the new MINI Cooper and the new MINI Cooper S this includes turbocharging, direct fuel injection, variable camshaft control on the intake and exhaust side (double VANOS) and variable valve control in the form of VALVETRONIC, as patented by the BMW Group. The result: a further boost to driving fun along wîth increased efficiency.
With output increased by 13 bhp to 134 bhp between 4 500 and 6 000 rpm and a maximum torque of 162 ft-lbs. (170 ft-lbs. wîth overboost), now available at 1,250 rpm, the 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine in the new MINI Cooper also enables much sportier driving performance than the predecessor power unit. The new MINI Cooper sprints in 7.4 seconds (automatic: 7.3 seconds) from standing to 60 mph, while its top speed is 130 mph in each case.
For highly spirited power delivery, the new MINI Cooper S is powered by a 2.0-liter 4- cylinder engine wîth a peak output of 189 bhp which goes on stream between 4,700 and 6,000 rpm, delivering its maximum torque of 207 ft-lbs. at 1,250 rpm. Torque can even briefly be increased to 221 ft-lbs. by means of an overboost function. As a result, acceleration from zero to 60 mph takes just 6.5 seconds (automatic: 6.4 seconds), while the top speed is 146 mph (automatic: 145 mph).
New manual and automatic transmissions wîth optimized efficiency.
The manual and automatic transmissions, also newly developed, make an additional contribution to improved efficiency. The new MINI is fitted as standard wîth a 6- speed manual transmission which differs from the predecessor model in its optimized weight and improved shift comfort deriving from the use of carbon friction linings for the synchronizer rings. A centrifugal pendulum in the dual-mass flywheel compensates for torsional vibrations, thereby enhancing the acoustic and vibrational properties of the drive system when travelling at low engine speeds for greater fuel efficiency. A new gear sensor also enables active engine speed adaptation for especially sporty shifting when accelerating and increased comfort when shifting down.
The 6-speed automatic transmission available for all variants of the new MINI offers improved efficiency, enhanced shift comfort and increased shift dynamics. These advancements have been achieved by means of elements such as a more efficient transmission control system, a more direct connection and optimized hydraulics. The new MINI also combines automatic transmission wîth the automatic engine start/stop function for the first time, preventing unnecessary fuel consumption caused by idling at intersections or in congested traffic. An additional option is the 6-speed sports automatic transmission which enables even shorter shift times and can be operated in manual mode using shift paddles at the §teering wheel.
In conjunction wîth the MINI navigation system, the automatic transmission is also able to take account of the route profile in controlling gear shifts. Based on navigation data, the appropriate drive position is selected to match the imminent situation on the road, e.g. directly prior to junctions or on corners. This prevents unnecessary upshifts between two bends in quick succession, for example.
The MINIMALISM technology which comes as standard includes not only the automatic engine start/stop function and extensive measures to optimize weight and aerodynamic drag in the new MINI but also a shift point display function for automobiles wîth manual transmission, brake energy recuperation and needs- oriented control of the fuel pump, coolant pump and other ancillary units. The electromechanical power §teering is equally as energy-efficiency as the map- controlled oil pumps in all engines.
Depending on the model variant, a significant optimization of aerodynamic properties is achieved by such measures such as extensive underbody trim and air ducting elements in the upper section of the C columns. With a drag coefficient (Cd value) of 0.28, the new MINI is the §egmènt leader in terms of aerodynamics, too.MINI Driving Modes: sporty flair and efficiency and turn of a switch.
The new MINI Driving Modes provide an excellent basis for fuel efficient motoring. A rotary switch at the base of the gear or selector lever is used to activate the standard MID mode, the SPORT or the GREEN mode. In addition to the characteristic curve of the accelerator and §teering and engine acoustics, the MINI Driving Modes also influence the ambient lighting, the shift characteristics of the automatic transmission and the Dynamic Damper Control configuration in the MINI Cooper S – provided these features are present. The choice is between a set-up which is very sporty, comfortable and well-balanced or geared towards fuel efficiency.
In GREEN mode - supporting a relaxed and more fuel-efficient driving style - the energy used by electrically powered comfort functions such as air conditioning and exterior mirror heating is reduced. In cars fitted wîth automatic transmission it is also possible to use the coasting function. The drivetrain is decoupled at speeds of between 31 and 99mph as soon as the driver removes their foot from the accelerator pedal. The new MINI then rolls at idling engine speed at a rate of minimal fuel consumption.Optimized suspension technology: less weight, more go-kart feeling.
The refinement of suspension technology in the new MINI keeps to the design principle of the single-joint spring strut front axle along wîth a multilink rear axle that is unique among competitors, as well as extensively optimized components in terms of material selection and geometry. All improvements are aimed at intensifying the agile MINI handling, commonly known as the go-kart feeling. The set-up of the wheel suspension, body mounting, vehicle suspension, damping, §teering and brakes increases the engine power and highlights the typical MINI concept consisting of front-wheel drive, transversely mounted engine at the front, low center of gravity, short overhangs, wide track and rigid, weight-optimized body structure.
In order to optimize weight and increase component rigidity, the new front axle is fitted wîth aluminum swivel bearings as well as axle supports and wishbones made of high-strength steel. The modified front axle kinematics support the agile turn-in response and precise §teering sensation of the new MINI. The share of high-strength steel used in the rear axle has also been increased. Tube-shaped stabilizers at the front and rear axle contribute to weight optimization. There is also an innovative axle bearing which benefits both ride comfort and agility.Premiere for Dynamic Damper Control in the new MINI.
The newly configured suspension and damping systems have been reduced in weight. The dampers are decoupled at the front and rear axle by means of triple-path support bearings. Another new addition to the MINI equipment program is Dynamic Damper Control. Two characteristic lines are available for damper set-up, allowing activation of either a more comfort-oriented response or a direct, sporty response to road surfaces, depending on the given situation. The compression and rebound stage are adjusted by means of electrical control of the EDC valves.
The electromechanical power §teering has also been further developed. So-called torque steer compensation prevents self-§teering tendencies caused by differing degrees of torque at the drive wheels. Steering precision has been optimized for sudden avoidance swerves and when taking bends in very sporty style. Standard features also include the speed-related §teering assistance system Servotronic.
In addition to the anti-lock system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and the brake assistant, the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) in the new MINI also includes a drive-off assistant, a brake dry function, Fading Brake Support and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) mode, which permits controlled slip at the drive wheels on loose sand or deep snow. When the driving stability system is deactivated (DSC Off mode), there is an electronic locking function for the front axle differential which selectively and appropriately brakes a spinning drive wheel on tight corners, redirecting the drive torque to the other wheel. This system, known as Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), promotes the car's forward momentum without negatively influencing self-§teering response. The new MINI CooperS also features the Performance Control system, which counteracts any tendency to understeer prior to reaching the threshold level to support an agile yet neutral driving response on bends.
The 15-inch forged light alloy wheels of the new MINI Cooper have a particularly low weight as well as favorable aerodynamic properties. The new MINI Cooper S is fitted wîth 16-inch light alloy wheels as standard. Other light alloy wheels up to a size of 18 inches are available.Optimized weight, more safety and greater agility due to intelligent lightweight construction.
Further development in the body area was focused on optimizing structure, which impacts positively on both the driving properties and the crash response of the new MINI. Intelligent lightweight construction means that weight reduction in the new MINI is combined wîth an increase in rigidity, thereby promoting both agility and occupant protection. Highly resilient bearing structures, deformation zones in optimum design and an extremely stable passenger cell provide an excellent basis for keeping impact energy away from passengers and ensuring maximum occupant protection.Comprehensive safety technology including pedestrian protection.
The standard safety fittings of the new MINI comprise front and side airbags as well as curtain airbags for the front and rear seats and two additional airbags to protect the knees. All seats are fitted wîth 3-point seat belts wîth belt tensioners and belt force limiters at the front and ISOFIX child seat mountings provided at the rear.
There are also impact absorbers and precisely defined deformation elements, all of which are elements that minimize the risk of injury to pedestrians.Innovative driver assistance systems increase convenience and safety.
Further evidence of the technological progress in the new MINI is the program of driver assistance systems - available for the first time in a model of the British brand. New features include the MINI Head-Úp-Display which shows information relevant to the driver on an extendible monitor in the upper section of the dashboard between the windscreen and §teering wheel. The MINI Head-Úp Display promotes concentration on the road by displaying information directly in the driver's line of sight. It can then be read quickly and conveniently without averting one's eyes from the road. The information that can be shown in the MINI Head-Úp Display includes speed, navigation directions in the form of arrow graphics and junction sketches, visual signals for collision warning, display symbols generated by Speed Limit Info, Check Control messages and entertainment program details such as radio channels and track titles. The graphics on the screen are clearly visible in all light conditions.
Other innovations in the area of driver assistance systems for the new MINI include the Driving Assistant option. This comprises a camera-based cruise control and distance control function, which automatically maintains a distance from the vehicle ahead, and the collision and pedestrian warning system wîth initial brake function. In critical situations, the driver is first provided wîth a visual signal in the form of a graphic symbol that appears in the instrument cluster; this is supplemented at the second warning level by an acoustic signal prompting the driver to react. In addition to this, an automatic brake maneuver is triggered in the case of an imminent collision wîth a pedestrian or if there is a risk of a rear-on collision in urban traffic. Here the new MINI is decelerated at medium brake force. Depending on the situation, this can either prevent an impact occurring altogether or else significantly reduce the severity of the accident. As the automatic deceleration is activated, the driver is also given an unmistakable prompt to intervene.
Other elements of the Driving Assistant include speed limit information on the current route, and also the high beam assistant, which takes into account environmental brightness, as well as oncoming vehicles and those travelling ahead when controlling the high beam.
A rear view camera and parking assistant are also available for the new MINI. The video images supplied by the rear view camera underneath the tailgate handle are shown on the on-board computer in the central instrument as an aid when maneuvering and reverse parking. Meanwhile, the parking assistant facilitates selection and use of parking spaces parallel to the road. The system automatically detects suitable parking spaces at the roadside. As the car then maneuvers into the chosen space, the parking assistant takes care of all the necessary §teering movements on behalf of the driver. All the driver has to do is operate the accelerator, brake pedal and gear selection in order to move safely and conveniently into the parking space.High-end features for comfort, functionality and individual style.
The standard features of the new MINI include electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, door sill cover strips wîth model-specific inscription, Color Line in Carbon Black and the MINI Radio including AÚX-In and ÚSB interface: these can be supplemented wîth a range of high-quality options in the areas of comfort, functionality and individual flair to adapt the car to one's own personal style. In addition to the air conditioning system, standard in both Cooper and Cooper S models, there is also a 2-zone automatic air conditioning system, seat heating for driver and front passenger, a panoramic glass roof, rain sensor and automatic light control, and the Harman Kardon hi-fi speaker system and a sports leather §teering wheel, including optional multifunction buttons and cruise control.
Other options include Comfort Access, Park Distance Control, roof rails, electrically heated and folding exterior mirrors, and both interior and exterior mirrors wîth automatic anti-dazzle function. For customization of the exterior and interior in hallmark brand style, options also include a rear spoiler in John Cooper Works design as well as various decorative trim styles for roof and exterior mirrors, bonnet stripes, seat upholsteries, interior surfaces and Color Lines.MINI Connected; apps now also available for Android smartphones.
The MINI connected option is also available in conjunction wîth the Radio MINI Visual Boost and the MINI navigation system. It offers extensive integration of smartphones in the car, allowing the use of internet-based services in the areas of infotainment, communication and driver experience. These are provided via apps whose functional diversity is being continuously expanded. In future, both the MINI Connected App and the so-called MINI Connected ready Apps supplied by third-party providers will be available not just for the Apple iPhone but also for smartphones using the operating system Android.
The MINI Connected program provided through smartphone apps includes vehicle- related functions such as Mission Control, Dynamic Music, Driving Excitement and MINIMALISM Analyzer, as well as online-based services such as a web radio function, the use of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and Glympse, the reception of RSS news feeds and entertainment features such as AÚPEO!, Stitcher, Audible, Rhapsody, TuneIn, MOG, Pandora and Amazon Cloud Player. With the color display in the central instrument, all functions can be operated in typical MINI style - and more comfortably, intuitively and safely than ever before.About MINI in the ÚS
MINI is an independent brand of the BMW Group. In the Únited States, MINI ÚSA operates as a business unit of BMW of North America, LLC, located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey and includes the marketing and sales organizations for the MINI brand. The MINI ÚSA sales organization is represented in the Ú.S. through a network of 119 MINI passenger car dealers in 38 states. MINI ÚSA began selling vehicles in the Ú.S. in 2002 wîth the introduction of the MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S Hardtops. Since then, the MINI Brand in the Ú.S. has grown to encompass a model range of seven unique vehicles.Source - MINI
The British Motor Corporation came into existence in 1952 by the merging of two manufacturers, Nuffield Motors and Austin. Nuffield was known for its Morris line of vehicles, while Austin had its 'Seven' model line. The transition for the two manufacturers was difficult and had been forced out of necessity. After World War II, many vehicle manufacturers could not stay in business due to destroyed factories, recovering economies, strained resources, and lack of funds. Combining the two companies was a means to stay in business.
A fuel shortage was occurring. German engineers quickly adapted and began producing fuel-efficient vehicles. Examples include the Volkswagen Beetle. Leonard Lord, Chairman of BMC and former head of Austin, commissioned Sir Alec Issigonis to design a vehicle to compete with the German-made vehicles.
Alec Issigonis was a graduate of Battersea Technical College. After graduation he worked as a draftsman for a plethora of engineering projects. Later, he joined Morris Motors where he was tasked with creating and fitting suspensions to the Morris vehicles.
Issigonis was outfitted with requirements to create a fuel-efficient, affordable, safe vehicle capable of carrying four individuals including luggage. To save on development costs, it was requested that an existing BMC engine be used. What he created was a vehicle that sat atop of 10 inch wheels. By using smaller wheels there was little need for wheel wells.
The car was expected to carry four individuals; the combined weight of the passengers being greater than the entire vehicle. A suspension was needed that could accept this pay-load. With his prior experience creating and working with suspensions, Issigonis designed a rubber cone suspension.
A 950 cc, four cylinder, BMC engine was selected. It was mounted in the front and expected to power the front wheels, a system that was revolutionary at the time. Instead of mounting the engine longitudinally, it was place transversely. The transmission was place under the engine due to space constraints.
When Issigonis presented his designs and recommendations to Lord in 1958, changes were requested. Instead of the 950 cc engine, a 34 horsepower, 848 cc engine would be used, making the vehicle slower but more importantly, more safe. The other request was to make the vehicle two inches wider.
There were two versions of the car when it was first introduced on August 26, 1959. The only difference between the 1959 Austin and Morris versions was their badges.
John Cooper had designed vehicles that successfully won the Formula One championships in 1959 and 1960.
He proposed a marriage between his 1000 cc Formula Junior engine with the Mini. Lord approved the idea and in 1961 the Mini Cooper was born. It was fitted with a 997 cc engine producing 55 horsepower. Later, the Cooper S came into being with the advent of the 970 cc and the 1275 cc engine - the latter capable of 76 horsepower.
From 1964 through 1967 the little car dominated the Monte Carlo Rally. The car easily achieved these victories using a 91 horsepower engine.
Minis became more than just a practical car, they became a fashion statement. This, combined with their practicality, fuel efficiency, and success on the race track, created an overwhelming demand for the little car.
In the 1980's, the Mini was starting to loose momentum. Rover tried to revitalize the Mini brand by creating special editions. In all, there were more than 40 different editions created between 1980 and 2000.
A merger with British Motor Corporation and another company produced the Britsh Leyland Company. Later, it became Rover Group. Currently, it is owned by BMW.
In 2001, BMW introduced the MINI. The MINI currently has three Cooper models. Their main differences being the size of the engine and the horsepower rating. A convertible has also been included to the line-up.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007