votw_header.gif (11410 bytes)
You'll need Windows' Media Player
to view the streaming video.
Get Windows' Media Player
Vehicle of the Week - Archives Tell us what you think!
MINI Cooper

MINI COOPER: A Modern Interpretation Of An Automotive Legend

The MINI COOPER, debuted worldwide at the Paris International auto show on September 28th, represents the car's first total design evolution since Mini's introduction in 1959. "The MINI is a piece of automotive history. Our mission was to combine the emotional power of the original model with the technology of the future", says Frank Stephenson, the Chief Designer of this exciting new car.

The MINI is a 21st century development of a genuine classic. While it reflects the styling cues of the old Mini it also offers the very latest technology available, easily making it the most advanced car of its size in the market. At the same time its performance and handling on the road make it a car that real enthusiasts will love driving.

The MINI is set to rekindle the same enthusiasm the buying public felt for the original car, amongst 21st century customers. It is designed to appeal across boundaries of age, class and nationality.

When Sir Alec Issigonis, the father of the original Mini, presented his car to the world in 1959, it set entirely new standards in design and was destined to become a motoring icon, lasting decades in virtually its original form.

The concept was simple but ingenious, combining compact external dimensions with maximum space inside. It was a car for everybody and during its life crossed all cultural and social boundaries.

Two years after the first Mini, in 1961, the Mini Cooper was launched, developed by racing and rally car expert John Cooper. The Cooper name has been closely associated with performance Minis ever since and remains a vital element of the new MINI. It is the MINI COOPER which is the first car in the MINI range to be unveiled.

"The MINI COOPER is not a retro design car, but an evolution of the original. It has the genes and many of the key characteristics of its predecessor, but is larger, more powerful, more muscular and more exciting than its predecessor ever was", says Frank Stephenson, the Chief Designer of the MINI.

A concept version of the new car was first seen in 1997 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and after going through the development process the final production car will be shown at the Paris Motor Show in September 2000.

The MINI COOPER's styling immediately grabs the attention with its clean, muscular lines. It is a shape which crouches low to the ground, hugging the road and is instantly recognizable as a Mini.

It was vital to follow the wheel-at-each-corner principles of the original car to recreate the classic Mini look. But this is more than just a design feature. It gives the car real dynamic advantages on the road with excellent handling and road-holding, making it both inherently safe and also great fun to drive.

At the front, the bonnet, lights and grille give the car its unique, friendly face, while at the back, the wide, steeply raked body with its flared wheel arches gives the car a compact, dynamic, glued-to-the-road look which is 100 per cent MINI.

The roofline is angled down slightly at the rear, giving the MINI COOPER a powerful profile. This characteristic stance is emphasized by the lateral and vertical design details, from the "shoulders" (the lateral line directly below the side windows) to the vertical sides and down to the sills.

The A, B and C-pillars are 'hidden' behind glass, giving the impression of a continuous window extending all round the car - a design with its roots in architecture, where glass walls disguise load-bearing structures. There is also an optional panoramic sunroof.

MINI COOPER will be launched with 14 exterior colors available, with either black or white roof and exterior mirrors. Standard fifteen inch or optional sixteen and seventeen inch aluminum wheels are available, finished in either white or silver. A wide range of chrome trim will also be available.

Inside the car, the design is a modern interpretation of the simple and straightforward look of the original Mini with its characteristic center speedometer in the middle of the dashboard. All the switches, levers, buttons and dials have been designed with their look, feel and weight very much in mind. The emphasis was on making them stylish, forming an important part of the MINI's personality, but easy to use and easy to understand.

Wide-opening doors, remote control central locking, an adjustable steering column and driver's seat height adjustment ensure that the MINI COOPER is extremely practical and adaptable for driver and passengers. The boot can be opened remotely and 50:50 split folding rear seats increase luggage space dramatically. Seating will be available with either leather or leatherette upholstery

A hi-fi CD sound system will be standard with a Harman Kardon speaker system offered as an option. The car will be available with other optional features such as multifunction steering wheel, and a rain sensor controlling the windscreen wipers.

Body, suspension and engine
The body of the MINI COOPER is exceptionally rigid offering two to three times the torsional stiffness of other cars the same size. This helps to give the car its exceptional, go-cart-like handling and makes it incredibly safe in a collision. It also minimizes vibration.

The suspension is highly advanced and features a multi-link design at the rear. Disc brakes all around are ventilated at the front and solid at the rear.  The engine is a 16 valve, 1.6-liter unit and will be available with an optional automatic transmission.

Setting new small car safety standards
The combination of an extremely strong passenger safety cell, crumple zones front and rear and side impact door beams means occupants are extremely well protected in an accident. Passive safety is further enhanced with a full array of airbags, including front and side airbags for the front passengers including head protection airbags too - unheard of in a car of this size!

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) come standard. Optional traction control and xenon headlights are also available. No other car in its class can come close to competing with the MINI's safety systems.

Target Groups
Our research has shown that MINI will appeal to a wide cross-section of customers - of different ages and from different backgrounds. What they share is an enthusiasm for driving and the look of the car.  However, there are two particular groups to whom we think the MINI will appeal.

The first group is young and affluent, aged between 20-34. They are experimental in outlook, enjoy trying new things and tend to be spontaneous and active. They like standing out in a crowd and driving a car that people notice. They have a keen sense of style and believe a car says a lot about them. MINI fits their image and their attitude to life. They look for what's cutting edge, and what's fun and exciting.

The second group is slightly older - likely to be 35-50 and represent a more affluent, yet progressive-thinking household. The MINI COOPER will be their third, or possibly fourth car for those who wish to add the sporty, yet affordable MINI to their garage - perhaps even to "share" with their children.

The third group would include classic car aficionados and Mini enthusiasts. These people have a keen interest in cars and have fond memories of the classic cars from their youth. They like the overall design and styling of the new car, and the strength and character of the MINI heritage appeals to them. Some of these enthusiasts would find the MINI COOPER a perfect platform to further individualize the appearance and performance of their car.

MINI in the BMW Group
MINI is a unique, independent brand within the BMW Group, which will be sold globally. It will be built at the BMW Group's Oxford plant in the UK to the company's exceptional quality standards. Full production will start in 2001 and the first cars will go on sale in the US during the first quarter of 2002.

The MINI will be sold in the US via a select group of BMW's existing retail outlets. Each MINI dealer will have a sales environment and staffing exclusively dedicated to the franchise.

Sales of 100,000 units a year are expected worldwide when full production has been reached.

source:  BMW

So, what do you think? Would you want to buy a car like this?   Let us know of your opinion!  Email us at viewermail@blueskyproductions.tv