Mini USA’s sales in April were its best ever yet, attributed largely to the increasing gasoline prices and the appeal of its new four-door Countryman crossover. In April 2011, Mini sold 68% more vehicles to 6,446 units, compared to April 2010. Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA, said that the demand has been buoyed up by the refreshed and expanded Mini model lineup since the start of the year.
With fuel prices continuing to increase, more people are becoming more open to compact and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
McDowell described the Countryman, which started selling in January, as a "real game-changer" for Mini since it is the first Mini to feature four doors and optional all-wheel drive. The Countryman, which is the largest vehicle that Mini builds, is shorter than a Volkswagen Golf.
McDowell said during an interview last month that Mini predicts that the Countryman will be its second-biggest seller in the U.S. in 2011. It is estimated to have a monthly volume of 1,200 to 1,400 vehicles.
Mini's best-selling Cooper hardtop boasts of monthly sales that average 2,000 units. Last April, Mini sold 1,709 Countryman units and 3,367 Cooper hardtops.
Sales of BMW, its sister division, climbed 9% in April to 18,801 vehicles. The redesigned X3 crossover, which started selling in January, was its topseller. X3 sales went up by over 200% to 2,277 vehicles. Meanwhile, BMW Group’s U.S. sales (including Rolls-Royce) increased by 20% in April 2011 to 25,291 vehicles.
The MINI design language, which is easily recognizable, displays the MINI Countryman’s cutting-edge vehicle concept in fitting style. This is the first MNI that measures over 4 meters or 157 inches in length, following the principle built for the classic Mini, which is to maximise interior space plus functionality on a small footprint. Aside from the proportions of the classic MINI, its front, side and rear characteristic design features also make sure that the MINI Countryman is easy to recognize as a member of the MINI family.
The name chosen for the fourth model belonging to the MINI’s range also echoes the brand’s historic origin plus its British roots. The MINI Countryman, like the MINI Clubman, is also based on the legacy of a forefather built on the remarkable small car concept conceived by Alec Issigonis. In fact, since 1960, a particularly versatile version of the classic Mini with the Countryman name was available in the market.
The Austin Seven Countryman as well as its technically identical sister model Morris Mini Traveller added a dose of variability with the larger interior giving flexible usage capability. On sale until 1969, this Mini version, not least the “woody” variant that has a wooden frame trim on the rear doors and body flanks, has reached an unrivalled cult status up to the present.
The MINI Countryman will be manufactured at Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik in Graz, the Austrian partner firm of the BMW Group. Production will be done on a different assembly line set as well as run in accordance with the BMW Group’s exacting standards. Just like all the brand’s models, the Hams Hall engine plant on the corner of MINI Production Triangle in England will supply the petrol engines to be used on the MINI Countryman. In the meantime, BMW Group's largest engine plant in Steyr, Austria will produce the new diesel power units.
MINI Countryman: A premium model, the first of its kind to add a fresh variety to the MINI family
As the first premium vehicle of its kind and the brand’s fourth model, the MINI Countryman is a pioneer in a lot of ways. It is distinguished by features of the classic MINI such as a suggestive design that embodies the brand’s unmistakable style, the agile handling that gives a "go-kart" feeling that makes it fun to drive as well as its premium quality, in line with the BMW Group’s quality standards. The MINI Countryman makes it possible for new targeted individuals to experience and enjoy these traits and capabilities.
The aforementioned characteristics give new perspectives to the MINI brand as well. Expanding its family lets the premium small car manufacturer bring an unequalled variety to this segment.
Because of this, the MINI has shown its ability again, more convincingly than ever, to keep up with the demands of its fan base yet stay true to its identity. The MINI Countryman contributes fresh, intriguing aspects to the brand as well as offers them in a new state-of-the-art body concept.