New MINI launched at Plant Oxford

MINI F56 launch at Plant Oxford

The new MINI was launched overnight at Plant Oxford where production has already commenced. BMW Group is boasting about its £750 million investment across its UK production facilities. Naturally, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was given a preview tour last month, didn’t miss the chance to wax lyrical.

“This £750 million investment is great news for both the local and wider economy, along with the 5,500 workers whose jobs are safeguarded by this launch,” said Mr Cameron. “Car manufacturing is a vital engine for growth. Production is back up to pre-recession levels and a car rolls off the line every 20 seconds in the UK.”

Plant Oxford currently builds the MINI Hatch, Convertible, Clubman, Clubvan, Roadster and Coupé. In 2012 a total of 207,789 new vehicles rolled off the line.

When BMW began building the new MINI at Plant Oxford in 2001 it had a staff of 2,400 and built 300 cars per day during a single shift. Today the employment numbers have grown to 4,000 and 900 cars are completed each day across two shifts. In all MINI has built 2.4 million cars since BMW took over production.


Third-generation MINI revealed

F56 MINI Cooper S

After a very long gestation period MINI has finally revealed its third-generation Cooper and Cooper S models. Also along for the ride is a new Cooper D. The F56 is built on BMW’s UKL1 platform and this is the first model designed and built from the ground up by BMW.

There is a lot of information to take in and let’s first look at the key stats offered in the F56. All three models are turbocharged, but that’s where the similarity ends:

Cooper S
Engine: Four-cylinder 2.0 litre MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology (turbo charging, direct injection, fully variable valve control, variable camshaft control)
Power: 141kW @ 4700–6000rpm
Torque: 280Nm @ 1250–4750rpm; 300Nm with overboost
0–100: 6.8s manual; (6.7s automatic)
Fuel consumption: 5.7–5.8l/100km; (5.2–5.4l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 133–136g/km; (122–125g/km)
Weight (unladen): 1160kg; (1175kg)

Engine: Three-cylinder 1.5 litre MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology (turbo charging, direct injection, fully variable valve control, variable camshaft control)
Power: 100kW @ 4500–6000rpm
Torque: 220Nm @ 1250–4000rpm; 230Nm with overboost
0–100: 7.9s manual; (7.8s automatic)
Fuel consumption: 4.5–4.6l/100km; (4.7–4.8l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 105–107g/km; (109–112g/km)
Weight (unladen): 1085kg; (1115kg)

Cooper D
Engine: Three-cylinder 1.5 litre MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology (turbocharger with variable turbine geometry, common rail direct injection)
Power: 85kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 270Nm @ 1750rpm
0–100: 9.2s manual; (9.2s automatic)
Weight (unladen): 1160kg; (1175kg)
Fuel consumption: 3.5–3.6l/100km; (3.7–3.8l/100km)
CO2 emissions: 92–95g/km; (98–99g/km)
Weight (unladen): 1135kg; (1150kg)

As you would expect the new model brings with it a host of new technology and driver assistance packages. For the first time in a MINI there will be a head-up display, LED daytime running lights, a selection of switchable Driving Modes (Mid, Sport and Green), dynamic damper control and more.

The look of the new MINI is very much derivative from the R50/R53 and R56 predecessors. Although, the front-end of the F56 is the least visually pleasing we’ve seen to date. From side on and the rear the new MINI, to our eyes at least, looks quite good. It will be best to judge for certain when we see the car on Australian shores, which is expected to be early-ish next year.

A small selection of photos awaits after the break and we’ll be back to add more photos throughout the day. These are complemented by press material from MINI, including a full press kit PDF available for download.

UPDATE: New pics added showing the Cooper and Cooper S. When comparing the front-end of the Cooper to the Cooper S, the lower-spec model works best where the functional brake ducts from the higher-spec model are missing. It’s also interesting to note the designers have managed to fit an iDrive style controller in the centre console.


Want a free ticket to the launch of the new MINI?

MINI F56 launch competition

MINI is starting to get excited about the launch of its all-new F56 model. They’re calling it “The New Original” and you could win a ticket to one of three launch parties to be held in London (18 November), Los Angeles (19 November) or, a little bit closer to home, in Shanghai (21 November).

For your chance to win just head over to the NEW MINI web portal.

Accessories & Tech MINI

MINI reveals F56 driver assist technology

MINI F56 driver assist systems

Ahead of its mid-November launch MINI has released information on the driver assistance technology to be found inside the all-new F56 model. In doing so we get a small preview of the car’s interior, at least the central screen in which much of the technology is viewed or accessed.

For the first time MINI will feature a head-up display. This will be projected onto a small folding screen in front of the driver, rather than on the windscreen as seen in similar systems.

Other technology includes collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, speed limit info, traffic sign memory and no passing info, video-based speed and distance regulation, park assist, rear view camera and digital headlight assist.

Much of this technology relies on inbuilt cameras interpreting signs on the side of the road and filtering it into the driver’s in-car viewing. We wonder how accurate or useable these systems will really be.

More detail and pictures can be found after the break.


MINI releases all-new engine details for F56 range

MINI F56 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine (petrol)

MINI has released details for the engine line up in its new F56 model range, ahead of the car’s November launch. And it’s a case of out with old and in with the new. The range will be headlined by a newly developed 141kW 2.0 litre four cylinder turbo engine and supported by a 100kW three cylinder 1.5 litre turbo.

Both petrol engines, the 2.0 litre has 280Nm of torque (300Nm with overboost), while the 1.5 litre has 220Nm of torque (230Nm with overboost). Joining the two petrol units will be a 1.5 litre three cylinder diesel, offering 85kW/270Nm.

One of the first signs of BMW’s technology more visibly appearing in MINIs is the TwinPower terminology, which will be applied to all engines in the line up. For the petrol engines that means technology such as direct fuel injection, variable camshaft control (dual VANOS) and fully variable valve control (Valvetronic) for more powerful engines, will be employed. While the diesel gets the most recent iteration of BMW’s common rail injection.

All engines are EU6 compliant as far as emissions are concerned.

The all-new engine range will be complemented by new manual and automatic transmissions too. Of the new manual ‘boxes MINI says, they will “feature an innovative gear sensor which adapts the engine speed when gear-shifting. This permits especially fast and sporty shifting with always the right engine speed available during gear shifts.”

As well as engine details MINI has given us brief insights into other technologies to be found in the new MINI. Items such as the Electronic Power Steering, braking systems, electronically adjustable dampers, lightweight construction techniques and improved pedestrian safety are all covered. Make sure you download the PDF after the break for more information.


MINI refreshes local lineup

2011 MINI range

The faclefited MINI range is now on sale in Australia. It’s a pretty standard refresh with minor cosmetic changes, including front brake ducts, LED rear tail lights. MINI has also thrown a bit more fruit into the standard equipment, such as Bluetooth phone capability across the range. Mechanically, things are pretty much the same as before.

Full details, including pricing, can be found in the MINI Australia press release after the break.


2010 MINI Countryman photo gallery

2010 MINI Countryman

Following the leaked images earlier in the week MINI promptly responded by releasing over 50 official pictures, as well as confirming the model’s Countryman name. You can see those images, along with MINI’s press release after the break. As usual, simply click on the pics you like to launch wallpaper-friendly 2000px super images.

The Countryman, previously previewed with the Beachcomber Concept, will be the first MINI to feature their new ALL4 all-wheel drive system. It is worth noting, though, ALL4 remains an option to be ticked at this stage, it is not standard equipment (pending Australian market specification).

MINI’s full complement of engine options will find homes under the Countryman’s skin. That means the about to be updated 135kW Cooper S engine right down to oil-burner from the 66kW One D. The only motor missing from MINI’s kit bag is the very enthusiastic 154kW John Cooper Works option. But, hold the phone, a JCW Countryman may be coming at a later date, along with the growing rumour of a World Rally Championship entry.

Personally, I am pleasantly surprised by the general look of the Countryman. Having said that, it is definitely a car that needs to be seen in the metal to truly judge its proportions. The finer design details set a unique language for the Countryman, while clearly being a part of the MINI range. The detail of the roofline over the Countryman’s C-pillar is very reminiscent of the similar juncture on the MINI Coupé Concept.

Okay, now to address the elephant in the room. Why on earth is MINI making the Countryman at all? “Alec Issigonis” and “turning in his grave” are terms on high rotation since these photos came to be. But would Issigonis really be recoiling in such horror?


First generation MINI Cabrio ceases production

R52 MINI Cabriolet Cooper S Sidewalk

Even though the R56 MINI has been on sale for some time, the R52 Cabriolet models currently on sale were still based on the first gen MINI platform. In readiness for the all new R57 model, Cabrio production has come to a temporary close after 164,000 R52s rolled off the line at MINI’s Plant Oxford. The MINI Cooper Cabrio accounted for 79,500 of the total sales with the MINI Cooper S Cabrio (and John Cooper Works versions) selling around 56,500 units. The remaining 28,000 were MINI One Cabrio models, not sold in Australia. The very last R52 Cabrio rolled off the line last week. It was a MINI Cooper S Cabrio Sidewalk finished in metallic White Silver, sold to a keen MINI fan from the USA.

News of the last R52 Cabrio came just days before MINI announced its one millionth MINI for export. Oliver Zipse, Managing Director MINI Plant Oxford said, “Export is a key factor for the success and stability of our MINI Plant in Oxford. Since MINI was launched we have seen a significant increase in export from less than 60 per cent in 2001 to over 80 per cent this year. The high customer demand in almost 80 countries around the world, from Chile to China, has driven MINI’s success over the last seven years.”