2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Road transport
|Current owner||BMW AG|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Website||MINI - Official website|
MINI is an automotive brand owned by the BMW Group that has produced vehicles in Oxford, England since April 2001. Only a single car model in different variants and currently two generations are produced by BMW's MINI plant.
The car, designed by Frank Stephenson, strongly recalls the original Mini, which was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation and its successors from 1959 to 2000. The name of the brand, MINI, is all-capitalized to distinguish it from its predecessor. Originally developed by Rover Group and to be sold under the Rover brand and made at the Longbridge plant, the Mini project was retained by BMW when the latter divested itself of Rover in 2000. This has led to some confusion as journalists have written that the MINI was designed and developed by BMW . The MINI is assembled in Cowley, Oxford, United Kingdom, in what was historically the Pressed Steel Company body plant, now known as Plant Oxford.
The 2001 to 2006 model years included four hatchback models: the basic "MINI One", the diesel-engined "MINI One/D", the sportier "MINI Cooper" and the supercharged "MINI Cooper S". In 2005 a convertible roof option was added. In November 2006 a re-engineered version of the MINI was released which is unofficially known as the "Mk II MINI". The Mk II was only available as a hard-top in the 2007 model year.
The MINI was designed and engineered to replace the long running Rover 100 and the larger Rover 200, both deemed unsuitable for the modern world automobile market. The MINI was supposed to replace low-end models of the 200 and high-end models of the 100 with a Rover 35 replacing high end 200s and low end 400s. After the divestment of MG Rover, the MINI was instead marketed as a small yet desirable city car rather than a mainstream replacement of the 100 and 200.
Mk I MINI Hatchback
In Portugal and Greece, the MINI One is powered by a 1.4 litre I4 version of the Tritec engine but all other petrol powered MINIs use the 1.6 litre I4 version. Since 2004, a soft-top convertible option has been available across the entire range.
There are numerous styling and badging differences between the models, perhaps the most obvious being that the Cooper S has a distinctive scoop cut into the bonnet. The Cooper S also has twin exhausts which exit under the centre of the rear valance. The (non-S) Cooper has more chrome parts than the MINI One and has a single exhaust. The MINI One D has no visible exhaust pipes at all.
In some markets, such as Australia and the US, only the MINI Cooper and Cooper S are sold because the MINI One's engine was considered to deliver insufficient power to run an air conditioner — a necessary feature in those markets. Almost fifty percent of all MINIs sold in Australia and about seventy percent of those sold in the US are the top-of-the-range Cooper S model.
The names Cooper and Cooper S echo the names used for the sportier version of the classic Mini which in turn come from the involvement of John Cooper and the Cooper Car Company. The Cooper heritage is further emphasised with the John Cooper Works (JCW) range of tuning options that are available with the MINI. John Cooper also created a one-off racing model of the MINI Cooper S named the MINI Cooper S Works. This car features many extras which help to improve performance, such as a racing exhaust and air filter as well as uprated suspension. The car also has one-of-a-kind 17-inch racing wheels.
The "Mk I" MINI One, Cooper and Cooper S used a Brazilian-built Chrysler-designed Tritec engine, while the MINI One D used a Toyota-built diesel engine. In August 2006, BMW announced that engines would in future be built in the UK, making the car essentially British-built again, with final assembly at Cowley and the body pressings being made in nearby Swindon at BMW's Swindon Pressings Ltd subsidiary.
While the modern MINI uses none of the engineering of the original Mini, it does capture much of the spirit of the classic car. Like the original, it uses a transversely-mounted four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. All four wheels are pushed to the corners of the body which is a 'two-box' or ' hot hatch' design. The styling of the car, like that of the Volkswagen New Beetle, is a retro design that is deliberately reminiscent of the original Mini with contrasting roof colours, optional bonnet stripes, optional rally lights and with black trim around the wheel arches and rocker panels that mimic the wide wheel flares found on many classic Minis.
The MINI One and MINI Cooper were available with a continuously variable transmission or with a conventional Midlands five-speed manual transmission (model year 2001-2004), later replaced with a Getrag five-speed unit for 2005 onwards. The Cooper S comes with a six-speed Getrag manual or (from the 2005 model year onwards) a fully automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
As standard, the MINI had a ' drive by wire' electronic throttle, electronic brakeforce distribution, cornering brake control and electronic stability control (standard or optional, depending on model and region) to improve control and handling in adverse conditions.
Adding a supercharger to the 1st generation Cooper S model required that the battery be relocated into the rear of the car - leaving no room for a spare tyre. Hence this model comes with run flat tyres as standard.
Mk I MINI Convertible
At the ' Salon International de l'Auto' ( Geneva Motor Show) in 2004, MINI introduced a cabriolet ( convertible) model which was released in the 2005 model year and available in One, Cooper and Cooper S versions. The convertible roof is fully automatic - an unusual feature in such a small car - and can be opened partially to act as a sunroof whilst the car is driving at speed. The convertible model forsakes the rear hatch of the hardtop Mini - replacing it with a drop down 'tailgate' design reminiscent of the classic Mini and incorporating similarly prominent external hinges. The convertible also adds two small power windows for the rear seat passengers which are retracted automatically as the roof opens. The roof is made from a heavy cloth with many layers of insulation; the rear window is of glass and has a heater/defroster but no washer or wiper.
As a joke and undoubtedly as a part of MINI's viral marketing approach, purchasers of the MINI convertible were asked to sign a "contract" promising that they would drive the car with the roof open at least 90% of the time. MINI also set up a telephone hotline (in the USA: 1-888-DO NOT CLOSE) which one may call to report convertible owners who are driving with the roof up inappropriately. The automated system offers such helpful advice as how to administer a wedgie to the offender.
At the 2007 North American International Auto Show, MINI introduced the limited edition of MINI Cooper S Sidewalk Convertible. It has a top speed of 215 km/h (134 mph). 0-100 km/h only takes 7.9 seconds. It has 168 hp (125 kW) and 220 N·m (162 ft·lbf) of torque.
The Works GP MINI
The last version to be made with the Tritec engine is the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, a lightweight, race-prepped John Cooper Works model. Hand-finished by Bertone in Italy, it was produced as a limited-production run of 2000 cars in 2006, originally with 444 of those ear-marked for the UK market (although ultimately 459 were sold). The GP features more bolstered front seats but has no rear seats, which along with reduced sound-deadening, deleting the rear wash-wipe, offering optional air-conditioning and making other steps to reduce the overall weight, resulted in a weight saving of around 40 kg (88 lb) over a Cooper S. Additionally, the car has enhanced braking, suspension, a smooth underbody and 218 horsepower (163 kW) from the John Cooper Works engine modification package. In place of the rear seats there is additional body stiffening and below-floor storage areas. There are many unique styling points such as the red door mirrors, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, unique body kit, bespoke (2 kg lighter) 4-spoke alloy wheels and specialised badging. Available in just one colour scheme, Thunder Blue with a Pure Silver roof, each car is individually numbered and features a decal on the roof along with a plaque on the dashboard. The last of the supercharged MINIs and a genuine Limited Edition model, it is expected that the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit will become a collectors' item.
MkII MINI Hatchback
MINI has introduced a new, second generation of the car for the 2007 model year, Mk II MINI (or R56), on a re-engineered platform with many stylistic and engineering changes. The engine architecture is shared with PSA Peugeot Citroën and is intended to be more cost effective. The engineering was done in the United Kingdom by MINI/BMW Group UK Engineering, in Munich at BMW Group HQ and with external third parties including IDG in Italy.
The so-called "Mk II MINI" (echoing the 'mark number' naming convention of the classic Mini) was introduced in November 2006 in the Cooper and Cooper S trim and the range was completed in 2007 with the Mk II MINI One. For the first time, there was a diesel-powered Cooper available from April 2007, badged as the Cooper D. The MINI convertible will continue to use the Mk I platform for at least a year.
Though the Mk II has a familiar look, every panel on the new car has been changed from the old model. New safety requirements mean that the overall length has increased by 60 mm (2.4 in), the front end raised and the indicators have been repositioned inside the headlights. The headlights themselves are now fixed to the front quarter panels rather than being housed within the bonnet so that they are not raised up with it when the bonnet opens. The car features a restyled grille and larger rear light clusters. The Cooper S retains the bonnet scoop in order to keep an association with the outgoing model — although the relocation of the intercooler to the front of the engine means that the scoop is now purely decorative. In addition, the Cooper S no longer has the battery located under the boot floor, instead being found in the more conventional place. The C pillars are no longer encased in glass and have been shaped to improve aerodynamics and to reduce the tendency for dirt to accumulate on the back of the car. Much criticized for the lack of rear legroom, Mini added more space for rear passengers by creating sculpted cut-outs in the rear of the front seats. An engine starter button replaces the conventional ignition key and, with the optional 'convenience package', the car unlocks itself automatically when the key is brought close to the car.
The Cooper and Cooper S models offer a new rear axle and aluminium components to reduce the car's weight and a Sports kit option comprising harder springs, damper and anti-roll bars is offered with both variants. Another key difference is the introduction of an upgraded electric power steering system, the sharpness of which can be increased by pressing a Sport button in front of the shifter (both auto and manual) - which also adjusts the response of the accelerator. In conjunction with automatic transmission, the Sport Button also allows the engine to rev almost to the red line before changing gear.
As for engines, the Tritec engine has been replaced in the Cooper model with a 120 bhp 1.6-litre Prince engine with BMW's Valvetronic infinitely variable valve timing, developed on and with Peugeot's core engine. It is reported in early road tests that this takes the car from 0-62 mph in a claimed 9.1 seconds (0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds) and has top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h). Fuel economy of 48.7 mpg–imp (5.8 L/100 km / 40.5 mpg–U.S.) on the combined cycle is nearly 8 mpg better. The more powerful 175 bhp (130 kW) Cooper S replaces the supercharger with a new twin scroll turbocharger in the interests of efficiency, and will feature gasoline direct injection. Subsequently, this engine does not feature Valvetronic. This engine also has an "overboost" function which temporarily raises the torque by 15 ft·lbf (20 N·m) under hard acceleration. As a result, 0-62 mph is covered in a claimed 7.1 seconds (0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds), and top speed is 140 mph (230 km/h). It achieves similar improvements in fuel economy to the Cooper, returning 40.9 mpg–imp (6.91 L/100 km / 34.1 mpg–U.S.) combined. Both cars come with six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. The turbocharged engine is the same (although with some French engineering modifications) as the one in the Peugeot 207 GTi/RC.
From 2008, all MINI models will be equipped with BMW EfficientDynamics fuel-saving technology. This includes a start-stop feature shutting off the engine when the car is stationary(this is not available in 2008 Mini Cooper in the US market). When the gas pedal is depressed the engine is restarted with electricity generated from Brake Energy Regeneration. The Cooper D model attains 74.0 mpg–imp (3.82 L/100 km / 61.6 mpg–U.S.) and emits 104 g of carbon dioxide per kilometre. A MINI One D is a possibility in the future, possible attaining even better fuel efficiency and lower emissions of greenhouse gases than the Cooper D, which is itself quite comparable to the Toyota Prius for fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions (potentially better than the Prius at higher rpm). Efficient Dynamics is standard in all MINI models, making MINI the first British car manufacturer to build a hybrid vehicle (although Efficient Dynamics is a Mild hybrid technology system) and also making it the first mainstream car manufacturer to have all models in its range as mild hybrids as standard (MINI's parent, BMW, is still in the process of implementing Efficient Dynamics across its older models).
All models of the Mk II with optional DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) also include "Hill Assist", a feature which prevents the car from rolling backwards on an incline by holding the brakes on for 2 seconds after the driver lifts their foot from the brake pedal, allowing them time to engage the accelerator.
The interior of the Mk II echoes the style of the earlier model but is in fact a complete redesign. The boot of the new car has an additional 10 litres of load space. Other changes in design - both visible and otherwise - have contributed to the Mini's recently awarded 5 stars in the Euro NCAP tests. One example is the higher front bonnet, which now complies with the European pedestrian collision regulations.
The Mk II MINI is built by MINI's Production Triangle: Plant Swindon (body panels), Plant Hams Hall (engine) and finally Plant Oxford, where final assembly work is completed.
The MINI Clubman is a separate model available in Clubman, S, and D variations. It is 9.5 in (241 mm) longer to accommodate more leg room and a larger boot. It has double doors as a boot instead of a pull-up hatch. It also features a Club Door on the right-hand side for passengers in the back.
The use of the name 'Clubman' for the MINI estate van is a break with classic Mini tradition. It was originally the name given to the 1970s facelift of the MINI which mostly resulted in a squarer front end. The classic Mini estates were named either 'Traveller' or 'Countryman'. However, BMW did not purchase the rights to use those names.
Prototype and concept cars
Rover first showed the MINI as the ACV30 concept car in 1997. This looked very different from the production MINI. It had circular headlamps, huge wheel flares and a much more rounded appearance overall compared to the production design.
Before the first sales of the new MINI, prototype versions were shown at the 2000 Paris Auto Show. These were essentially identical to the version that was finally sold except that the colours used ('Candy Blue' and 'Flamenco Orange') have never been used in production cars.
BMW demonstrated a hydrogen-powered internal combustion technology in some of their concept cars in 2000 and 2001, and MINI showcased a hydrogen powered concept car in 2001 at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The car differs from electric-motor hydrogen concepts, such as the Honda FCX in that it uses a cylinder-based internal combustion engine.
An all-electric MINI is in use at the British Embassy in Mexico that uses around 200 kg (441 lb) of Lithium Ion batteries. Three electric MINIs were also made for use in some subway scenes in the 2003 movie The Italian Job to satisfy the subway authorities concerns over possible carbon monoxide poisoning. PML Flightlink developed a prototype series-hybrid conversion, called "MINI QED", replacing the drivetrain with an 160 bhp (120 kW) electric motor in each wheel and an efficient onboard gasoline generator.
With higher powered engines, the standard front wheel drive MINI tends to produce a high level of wheel spin - a four wheel drive would be a natural solution to that problem. Getrag demonstrated a four wheel drive version of the MINI in 2004.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005, MINI revealed a retro version of the classic 'Mini Traveller' station wagon. Based on a stretched wheelbase with two side-hinged rear doors and separate rear seats replacing the split bench seat of the standard MINI. At the Tokyo Auto Show, the same basic concept reappeared with some fanciful additions - a circular roof section could be removed to form a picnic table with four folding chairs. The rear side windows were replaced with fold-down storage containers containing cutlery, cups and plates. In Detroit, a further version was presented without the table and chairs - but with a radically restyled interior.
Additional MINI models, including a four-door version, a two-seat roadster and a dune buggy have been shown as computer-graphic mock-ups at various times.
Beer can exhaust
The team of designers working on the 2001 MINI had finished the full-sized clay mock-up of the MINI in plenty of time for a presentation for the board of directors. Chief designer Frank Stephenson realized that the model did not have an exhaust pipe. His short-term solution was to pick up an empty beer can, punch a hole in it, strip off the paint and push it into the clay at the back of the car, which took just a few minutes. The overall design for the mock-up was so good that the board members told him not to change a thing, resulting in the distinctive exhaust tip seen in production cars.
All MINI models have R-series model numbers assigned to them. These are a legacy of the Mini's original development within Rover Group. The following designations are known:
- R50: "Mk I" MINI One and Cooper (2001-2006)
- R52: "Mk I" MINI Convertible (2005-2008)
- R53: "Mk I" MINI Cooper S (2001-2006)
- R55: "Mk II" MINI Clubman, S and D (2008-present)
- R56: "Mk II" MINI One, Cooper, S and D (2007-present)
- R57: "Mk II" MINI Convertible (2009-present)
- R60: Possible future four-wheel drive MINI
Dr. Alex Moulton (designer of the suspension system for the classic Mini), spoke about the new MINI in an interview with MiniWorld magazine: "It's enormous - the original Mini was the best packaged car of all time - this is an example of how not to do it. it's huge on the outside and weighs the same as an Austin Maxi. The crash protection has been taken too far. I mean, what do you want, an armoured car? It is an irrelevance insofar as it has no part in the Mini story."
Critics of the new MINI also cite the fact that it is 60 cm (two feet) longer, 30 cm (one foot) wider and almost twice the weight of the classic car - yet it has less rear leg room and less luggage space. Much of this is to do with modern crash protection requirements and the desire to incorporate features such as air conditioning, a supercharged engine, modern emissions controls and a higher level of front-seat comfort than the classic Mini was capable of.
MINI convertible owners frequently criticise the poor rear visibility in the convertible. With the roof up the wide areas of cloth down the sides of the car block visibility to the rear quarters and the lack of washer/wiper on the small rear window - combined with the tendency of all flat-backed cars to accumulate dirt on the rear - effectively eliminates all rear visibility. Even with the roof down, the large roll-protection bars above the back seats and the bunched up cloth of the folded roof tends to block a significant fraction of rearward visibility. In an attempt to counter this problem when reversing the car, the MINI convertible comes with rear-mounted proximity sensors as standard equipment (these are an optional extra on the hardtop MINI).
Awards and popularity
Featured notably in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, the MINI Cooper/Cooper S won the North American Car of the Year award for 2003.
The MINI has not only outsold the original Mini from its final few years of production from Longbridge, beginning with 2008, anticipated annual production of 250,000, the MINI will overtake the sales success of the Mini at its zenith. The Cooper and its variations have sold over 40,000 examples in the UK for most of the years that it has been on sale, and has never been far outside the Top 10. The second largest market is now the USA. In 2008, three different MINIs (a Clubman, the hatchback, and an Mk I convertible) were offered in the pricing game 1 Wrong Price on The Price Is Right after the show removed the Barker-era "Big Three Only" rule.
In 2008 the green version of the MINI, the MINI Cooper D, was nominated for WhatGreenCar.com Car of the Year Awards. The judges highly commended the Cooper D for its EfficientDynamics stop-start and regenerative breaking technology and were hugely impressed by the driving experience offered by the car. It managed to reach shortlist for the Green Car Awards, but eventually lost out to the Ford Focus ECOnetic.
A new racing version of the MINI based on the R56 Cooper S, called the MINI John Cooper Works CHALLENGE, has been built, and will be raced in the 2008 MINI Challenge. ( More Information)
The MINI is currently in use in the KONI Challenge Series and the MINI Challenge.
Australia will become the first country in the world to utilise the MINI John Cooper Works R56 race car for its inaugural MINI Challenge. The eight round Series will support Australia's leading motorsport category - the V8 Supercars and the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Development Series.
The Australian MINI Challenge will visit eight race tracks throughout the country, including Mount Panorama, and Bathurst, where MINI Challenge will be a support to the SuperCheap Auto 1000. MINI Challenge has also been confirmed for the final ever meeting at Oran Park Raceway in Sydney's south-west.
MINI Challenge in Australia will share in the Seven Network's V8 Supercar Television Coverage and will combine live race coverage with post-produced half hour programs.
The full calendar for MINI Challenge in Australia during 2008 is as follows: Round 1 Eastern Creek NSW March 7-9 Round 2 Wakefield Park NSW April 4-6* Round 3 Barbagallo WA May 9-11 Round 4 Sandown VIC June 7-9 Round 5 Phillip Island VIC September 12-14 Round 6 Bathurst NSW October 9-12 Round 7 Symmons Plains TAS November 21-23 Round 8 Oran Park NSW December 4-7
- Supporting the Fujitsu V8 Supercars meeting