Mini Cooper: New Changes Attempt to ModernizeBy: Brian Powell - February 25, 2014
The first generation of the new Mini Cooper was released in the United States in 2002, and, since then, the world has not looked back. Sales of Mini Coopers have nearly doubled over the past 12 years, even though the car has not seen much change in terms of aesthetic or performance. In 2014, customers should expect that trend to change.
The 2014 Mini Cooper will be the third generation of the new Mini. For the first two generations, BMW depended upon the kitschy, retro appearance of the Mini to sell its product. While that strategy has worked quite well, BMW realizes that it must adapt to the changing climate of the automobile scene if it wants to keep up with the competition.
Hence the new reboot apparent in the 2014 Mini Cooper. The first notable aspect of the 2014 edition is the increase in size. When the Mini was first released in the US in 2002, the size growth was one of the first things Mini aficionados noticed. Despite being bigger than the classic Mini, however, the mini-moniker was still apt and fitting. The 2014 Mini Cooper, though, pushes the boundaries of what it means to be called mini; The 2014 edition is 4.5 inches longer, 1.7 inches wider, and .03 taller, while the wheelbase extended 1.1 inches with the track growing 1.7 inches in the front and 1.3 inches in the rear. Overall, these dimensions have led to a total growth of 8 cubic feet in the interior and 3 cubic feet in the luggage compartment.
The most noticeable change, however, comes in the Mini’s interior. The classic center-dash speedometer has been relocated to the more traditional location behind the steering wheel, removing part of the “British feel” of the vehicle. In the speedometer’s previous location, BMW has installed an 8.8 inch Mini Controller Dial. This dial’s features include providing feedback for any changes made by the driver in the car, as well as providing the driver with changes in the outside environment. The controller dial also allows the driver to connect to infotainment news by tethering to one’s smartphone.
Perhaps the neatest component of the Mini Controller Dial, however, is that it works with a navigation system in order to assess the terrain before one traverses it. What this allows the Mini to do is adjust its driving performance to meet the challenges of the road, resulting in better-timed gear shifts and better overall engine performance and gas mileage.
BMW is confident that the changes the company has made to the 2014 Mini Cooper will be cherished by the Mini community. In fact, the company expects such a drastic increase in product demand (with a sales target of 2 million by 2016) that it has decided to produce Mini’s outside of the UK for the first time in its history. Production of the 2014 Mini Cooper Hatch will take place VDL Nedcar in the Netherlands, a company which has previously produced several version of Mitsubishi vehicles.
If one is impressed by the new changes exhibited by the 2014 Mini Cooper, the vehicle will roll off of production lines and into dealerships in March for the almost-mini-but-not-quite price of $20, 745 for the base model and $24, 395 for the Cooper S.
Image via MINI USA