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” »

Mini Countryman rapidly multiplies in new TV commercial

September 6th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mini has kicked off its advertising campaign for the new Countryman crossover with a suitably hyperactive TV commercial. In this new ad the Countryman is placed into an Italian countryside/city setting where it multiplies into a frightening fleet of over one hundred CG vehicles, all jumping up curbs and having near-misses with pedestrians in what is a Mini dominated world. Eventually, the high-riding Countryman throws itself onto a ferry and escapes into the sunset, much to the delight to all concerned.

It’s certainly a polished and very cool commercial, as we’ve come to expect from Mini. There’s also a short making-of video to document the action. They’re both worth a look and you can view them by clicking on the boxes below. Enjoy. Continue reading “Mini Countryman rapidly multiplies in new TV commercial” »

New customisable Mini Ray goes on sale in NZ

August 20th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

MINI’s latest special edition the MINI Ray, has gone on sale in NZ and gives new owners the chance to personalise their new car through the application of colour specific side scuttles and exterior mirror caps at no extra cost.

In addition to three exterior paint options there are six custom colours available for the side scuttles and mirror caps, meaning a choice between orange, blue, white silver, yellow, pink and green.

“MINI is a fun-loving brand which encourages its owners to have fun with their vehicles,” said the Managing Director of BMW Group New Zealand, Mark Gilbert.

“MINI Ray takes this one step further and allows people to express a little more of their personality through their car.”

A MINI Ray Premium Edition is also available, which in addition to the personalised elements, includes a 6-speed automatic transmission and 16″ alloy wheels.

Both of the new models are powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which develops up to 72kW of power and 153Nm of torque.

The Ray weighs only 1135kg so MINI’s go-kart like handling characteristics are retained, but not at the expense of fuel economy which is rated at 5.4-litres per 100km.

In terms of safety the MINI Ray features ABS brakes, Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Braking Force Distribution Control and Cornering Brake Control. There’s also driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags for front seats and curtain head bags.

All new MINI models now also come with a three year, unlimited kilometres service plan, which includes warranty and roadside assistance cover.

The new MINI Ray is available for viewing and purchase through the MINI Online Store at, or alternatively visit the MINI Garage in Auckland or Christchurch.

Check out images of some of the available MINI Ray colour combinations in the gallery below.

The recommended retail price for the MINI Ray is from $32,595 (incldg on-road costs and GST) or from $37,595 (incldg on-road costs and GST) for the Ray Premium Edition.

BMW X1 becomes Europe’s top-selling premium SUV

August 17th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In a reversal of form and by a margin of just 407 vehicles, the BMW X1 has fended off the Audi Q5 to be Europe’s highest-selling premium SUV for the first six months of 2010. BMW gladly sold 44,067 units of the X1 from January to June, compared to 43,660 units of the Q5.

The Volvo XC60 (29,616 units), Land Rover Freelander (20,138 units) and the BMW X5 (16,565) were the others in the five top selling SUVs in Europe for that time period.

Sales of the X1 have certainly not slowed down and the X1 is the cheapest vehicle in the top five premium SUVs which has clearly helped.

However, the list could get quickly rewritten once 2011 model year vehicles go on sale.  This new breed could include X1 competitors from Mercedes-Benz, along with the Audi Q3 and Saab 9-4X.  The MINI Countryman may also steal some customers away from the X1, even though it may not be labelled a premium SUV.

To read a Car and SUV review of the new BMW X1, click here. Continue reading “BMW X1 becomes Europe’s top-selling premium SUV” »

Mini to stage WRC comeback with new Countryman

July 28th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

There was a time when Mini would show up at a rally event, kick some butt and then just cruise off into the sunset. Those days could now return. After a long break, Mini is making a comeback in the world of rallying starting next season with a Prodrive built and developed Countryman crossover. The BMW Group claims that Mini, whose Cooper model won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in the 1960s, has been planning a return to WRC for several years.

The new Countryman compact SUV gives Mini the vessel for a strong return to the WRC and complies with the new Super2000 regulations. The car will be powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport and use an all-wheel drive system. Prodrive, which is most famous for running Subaru’s world championship-winning team until the end of the 2008 season, has been working on the development of the car since early 2009.

The Countryman WRC car will also be made available to customer teams and will be first tested later this year, next year the car will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) before completing the full series in 2012.

Prodrive boss, David Richards, said in a recent interview that the target is to win the WRC title within three years.

“The target is clearly to be competitive from the outset and we have set a target with BMW and Mini of the world title within the next three years,” said Richards.

“We [Prodrive] have got six world titles to our credit already so we’ve been there before and know what it takes to do it. We are setting about that task very meticulously.”

Neither Prodrive or Mini has not made any announcement about drivers, though there have already been rumours about Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin as well as Mads Ostberg.

Mini refreshes model range for 2011

June 29th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The second generation of BMW’s modern Mini has been tearing up the streets for a couple of years now and it has just received a subtle refresh. With the exception of the newly introduced Countryman crossover, the remainder of Mini’s lineup including the hatchback, Clubman and convertible models has received a subtle facelift with fresh styling updates and new diesel engines for the 2011 model year.

All variants of the Mini have been given a new front bumper design to refresh the face and improve pedestrian protection by larger deformation zones, new light elements in the headlamps, redesigned side gill housings with indicators, restyled rear bumpers and LED tail lights now on all models. There are five new paint colors on the Mini pallete and fresh alloy wheel designs to choose from.

Inside, there are redesigned controls for the centre console, steering wheel, air conditioning and audio systems. There are new materials and colours including six new upholstery choices, and two new interior color lines for door cards and side panels.

Sitting under the bonnet, there’s an all-new 1.6-litre diesel engine that shares the same internals and variable turbine geometry as BMW’s 2.0-litre diesel units. When used in the Mini, it will be offered with two output ratings – 90HP in the Mini One D and 112HP in the Cooper D.

The diesel engine will also feature for the first time in the Mini Convertible.

The refreshed 2011 Mini will go on sale globally from September.

MINI Box Art Promotion

April 27th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

MINI Box Art Promotion

MINI Test Drive JCW Cabrio Rallye Monte Carlo.

March 2nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk are paying a visit to the twisting streets of Monte Carlo, where they celebrated their greatest victories at the Rallye Monte Carlo in 1963/64.

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