Mini has sold its 500,000th car in the U.S. – a fact that BMW is all too proud to announce as proof that its experiment of producing small premium cars with Mini badges is indeed successful. In 2001, Mini (in its present iteration) arrived in the U.S. It offered only one model back then – the Mini Cooper (available in standard and supercharged S versions).
Even with the Mini Cooper’s small measurements of shorter than 143 inches, customers liked its sporty driving dynamics, its retro design, and its numerous premium features. On its full year on sale in 2002, Mini was able to sell 24,590 units. Since that time, the Mini range has expanded from just one body style to its current seven.
These are the Hardtop and Convertible, Countryman and Paceman, Clubman/Clubvan, and Coupe and Roadster. Its sales have increased, with the brand surpassing the 50,000-mark in 2008, having sold 54,077 units. However, it posted an all-time record last year with sales of 66,123 units. What’s in store next for Mini is the launch of the next-generation Mini Cooper Hardtop in Summer 2013.
The first four-door Hardtop model is expected to come out in 2014. More variants will be arriving next. These will use the same modular architecture as the BMW 1 Series and will lead to models such as the MiniVan. It took Mini a total of 12 years to reach sales of its first 500,000 units in the U.S. but it’s confident that it will be able to reach this number in a shorter period of time the second time around.
When MINI launched the Countryman to the global market two years ago, the carmaker also introduced its hallmark attributes and values into a new segment. That move propelled the Countryman – MINI’s first model to offer all-wheel drive -- to become one of the main drivers of the brand’s continued growth. Countryman’s current customers and would-be-buyers as well as fans and enthusiasts would be delighted that starting autumn 2012, MINI will commence selling the latest version of the Countryman laden with extensive modifications that further increase driving enjoyment.
These modifications – to be rolled out across all variants starting November 2012 – include design refinements and finer choice of interior materials. Design refinements include the newly designed rings that surround the Center Speedo and four air vents. These rings in Carbon Black feature an inner ring in high-gloss black or – when the Chrome Line Interior option is availed -- in chrome.
Other interior refinements include newly designed door inserts for enhanced practicality as well as remodeled door armrests for a more comfortable arm support. For the latest version of the Countryman, the controls for the electric windows are now positioned in the door trim while drivers will have better access to certain vehicle operations -- such as those controls related to its windows, deactivation facility for the rear window, and exterior mirrors -- as a full control panel is now integrated into the door armrest on their side.
By locating window controls away from the center console, access to the larger storage compartment below it has been optimized. While a three-seat rear bench comes as standard, a pair of individual seats could also be specified without incurring further cost.
In addition, MINI has refreshed the available interior colors and trim elements as well as Color Lines for the Countryman. On the other hand, MINI is also adding new exterior paint finishes for the new Countryman, including Brilliant Copper metallic and Blazing Red metallic. It also refreshed the equipment packages to allow customers to easily personalize their MINI Countryman according to their preferences.
For the latest Countryman, six engine variants are available: three petrol and three diesel units, with outputs ranging from 66 kW (90 hp) to 135 kW (184 hp). For those looking for a sportier version of the compact SUV, they could avail of the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman that is powered by a turbocharged 160 kW/218 hp engine complemented by the ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. This system is optional for certain Countryman variants like the MINI Cooper S Countryman, MINI Cooper SD Countryman and MINI Cooper D Countryman.