New Mini is Bigger, Better—Yet Looks Delightfully the Same

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There are few cars that excite more people, even those casually interested, than the Mini Cooper—the peppy sprite with the pleasing, classic profile, the big round headlights, and a unique heritage in the automotive world. Those people will be glad to know that the new Mini coming to the US and Europe next year, and just introduced at its plant in Oxford, England, and at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is pretty much like the previous Mini.

But other folks may be happy to learn that the new Mini also is slightly larger than the old and yet more fuel-efficient, offering four different powertrain options— including its first US-bound clean-diesel powertrain—and new technology including optional LED headlights and a SIM card that’s permanently installed in the car, which Mini said are firsts for the mini-car segment.

“The new Mini carries forward its predecessor’s aspiration to remaining the leading original of the premium small-car segment,” Mini said in a statement. Added Peter Schwarzenbauer, board member of BMW in charge of the Mini brand, at the car’s unveiling in England, according to Automotive News: “We have big plans for Mini.”[more]

Schwarzenbauer said that Mini plays a key overall role for BMW because of its iconic design, which the world over appeals especially to Millennials. Its importance will increase as consumers continue to downsize to smaller cars.

But besides keeping that popular styling, BMW improved the new Mini in many ways. This third generation of the car since BMW bought the brand over a decade ago is an inch here and an inch there bigger than its predecessor, for one thing. It also is the first new car by BMW to be based on a new front-wheel-drive architecture that it will share with entry-level BMW-brand models, lending the new Mini “even more precise and sporty handling” than the current model, Mini said in its release.

Fuel consumption will be up to 27 percent less than in current models with the new powertrains and optimized weight and aerodynamic properties of the new model. High-strength steels in the chassis have helped reduce weight, and a lighter braking system will actually work better than equipment on the current Mini, the company said.

But all of those improvements may still take a back seat in the new Mini to the mere fact that BMW is providing an improved way for aficionados to admire the car that starred in The Italian Job, remains the fulfillment of a mid-life fantasy for many consumers, and continues to be embraced by Brits even though Germans now run the brand.

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