2002 Mini Cooper
|Bet the max on the Mini|
Jun 10, 2004 21:54:45|
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2003 MINI Cooper and Cooper S
Bet the max on the Mini
Base price: $16,850 Engine: 1.6-liter 4-cylinder (Cooper S model is supercharged) Transmission: Five-speed manual, six-speed Steptronic automatic or six-speed manual (Cooper S only) Drive: Front-wheel Maximum horsepower: 115 hp @ 6,000 rpm (Cooper S: 163 hp @6,000 rpm) Maximum torque: 110 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm (Cooper S: 155 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm) Wheelbase: 97.12 in. Length: 142.76 in. (Cooper S: 143.90 in.) Width: 75.0 in. Height: 55.44 in. (Cooper S: 55.75 in.) Trunk volume: 5.6 cu. ft. (25 cu. ft. with rear seat folded) Curb weight: (Cooper S: 2513 lbs.) Fuel economy: 35 mpg (Cooper S: 33.6 mpg) Safety equipment: Four wheel ABS with electronic brake assist; front and side airbags; ISOFIX child seat tethers; central locking system
Positioned to be competitively priced for the US market at close to $17,000, its starting price is $15,705 more than its original value price--$1295--set over four decades ago when Americans first met the MINI as an import called The Austin 850.
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San Francisco, CA: There are many new cars with attention-grabbing sheetmetal. But, there are few that receive the rubber-necking I experienced as I drove the all new MINI through the northern California countryside on its first ride and drive in the U.S. recently. Most of those who looked simply stared or smiled and waved. Except the man who was collecting money at the toll gate at the Golden Gate Bridge --- as a pulled up, he yelled "wait just a minute", ran out of his booth wearing a wide smile and lapped the bright red MINI I was driving. " I had one of these many years ago. The new one is great-I can't wait to get one," he exclaimed. There's no doubt about it. There's nothing like it on the streets of America today. But, beyond its head-turning power, how does it drive? Like it's glued to the road! I had the good fortune to be able to drive BMW's new MINI through The City of Love, on nearby highways and along miles and miles of backcountry roads with little or no traffic. Designed with a wide track, long wheelbase and short overhangs, this new bug of a car shows truly competent handling and maneuverability and comes with good to average power in its base version and autobahn-ready brakes. A sport suspension gives it a "go-kart feel" and equal length drive shafts (this means no "torque steer" or pulling in one direction or another) enhance its responsive steering. My only complaints were with its somewhat mini-sized sun visors, outside and rear-view mirrors. Its "S" version is not available yet, but will follow soon. It's like dÃ©jÃ vu all over again. In 1996, Volkswagen banked on driver nostalgia and affection for the Beetle of the 1960s when it reintroduced the New Beetle. As sales charts and ad agency awards have shown, it was a very smart bet. In 2002, BMW Group hopes to cash its chips on the same nostalgia with the all-new, completely revamped MINI Cooper and Cooper S. Positioned to be competitively priced for the US market at close to $17,000, its starting price is $15,705 more than its original value price--$1295--set over four decades ago when Americans first met the MINI as an import called The Austin 850. Back then, this pint-sized runabout weighed 1,300 pounds and scurried along on 35 horses. Now, four decades later, the base version has 115 bhp, while a supercharged Cooper S will be propelled by 163 stallions under its small-fry hood. The most successful British motorcar in history, the MINI remains second only to the Model T as "the car" of the last century. And, in terms of style, this diminutive diva is to the automotive industry what the mini shirt was to fashion-a legend in its time. MINI, as it came to be called, remains beloved for the simplicity of its design-a compact exterior and generous interior-mated to its spunky personality. The new MINI has been designed to appeal to a wide variety of demographics. Pairing its classic design with the latest supra technology, BMW believes it has created the most advanced car of its size in the market. "Our mission was to combine the emotional power of the original model with the technology of the future," describes Frank Stephenson, Chief Designer of the new MINI, " by the matching of old genes with new muscle." According to market research, the MINI will appeal most to young and affluent buyers between the ages of 20-34, who they characterize as spontaneous and active, attracted by being on the cutting edge of what's exciting and fun; slightly older 35-50 year olds who are affluent but come from progressive households for whom the MINI may be the third, or even fourth car; and classic car lovers and MINI loyalists. A unique, independent brand within the BMW Group, which it shares with siblings Rolls Royce and BMW's passenger cars and "truck family", MINI will be sold globally, but built exclusively at parent company's Oxford plant in the United Kingdom. When full production is reached, BMW Group expects annual worldwide sales of 100,000. Expectations are that MINI will find a receptive US market, and will realize 20,000 sales during its first full sales year. Faced with rising fuel costs and a shrinking economy, Americans may once again eagerly embrace one of this mini-car's most salient features. Gas mileage is not, however, what will catch your eye the first time you see one of these pint-sized powerhouses flying past on the highway. More likely, you'll be rubbernecking the unique look, at once retro and modern, adopted from the original MINI design. The MINI's signature "bulldog" stance has been enhanced by a smoother hood and wide front grille, as well as an updated version of the big, prominent bug-eye headlamps of the original. The roofline is low and flat, meeting the back end at a nearly 90-degree angle. The rear is a flat vertical plane with a small liftgate for the teeny trunk area. Wheel wells are accented by contrast composite material that adds to the sporty look of this nimble machine. This year's models will share the distinctive white roof of MINIs past (customers may also choose a black roof). The Cooper S gets further style enhancements, including dual chrome-tipped exhaust pipes and "S" badging that reflects an old disagreement between original designers. They couldn't agree on whether to call the rally-winning model "Sport" or "Special," so they settled on, simply, "S." A roof spoiler adds credibility - and downforce - to the model's speedy aspirations.
BMW has taken safety to a new level in the reborn Cooper lineup, adding active safety features, such as four-wheel vented ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Cornering Brake Control, traction control and a standard runflat tire indicator.
Under the hood hides a respectable motor delivering more punch than you might expect from such a small car. Both the Cooper and Cooper S are powered by a 1.6-liter, 16-valve 4-cylinder making 115 hp, with a top speed of 124 mph and a 0-60 time well under 10 seconds. Gas mileage is 35 mpg. The Cooper S gets a boost from a supercharger that turns the vehicle into a bit of a pocket rocket making 163 horses and hitting 60 mph in about 7 seconds, with a top cruising speed of 135 mph. Even this speedster gets almost 34 miles to the gallon. The base Cooper model comes with either a 5-speed manual transmission or BMW's six-speed Steptronic continuously variable transmission that simulates a six-speed semi-automatic. The Cooper S, built for speed and performance, comes with a six-speed manual transmission. On the road, the Cooper line-up share what BMW calls the 'Go-Kart' feel of the original MINI. What this translates to is a curve-grabbing road feel, thanks to its sport-tuned suspension and equal-length driveshafts that reduce load change reactions on the steering wheel, even in tight corners. Multi-arm front and rear axles provide additional stickiness on bumpy road surfaces. Unlike its low-tech predecessors, the new MINIs also come equipped with traction control and stability control systems. Just as the new Beetle had a major interior overhaul to make the car more livable for a new generation of Bug drivers, the new Cooper pair has a near-luxury look and feel in the cabin. The speedometer is round and mounted in the center of the instrument panel like classic MINIs. Gauges are accented by silvertoned metal rings, while electronic controls are a brushed black plastic. Distinctive toggle switches spring back into place after they're depressed, a feature that is another nod to this vehicle's progenitors. Optional trim levels can include wood panel trim, extensive metal trim, leather-wrapped or wood-and-leather steering wheel and leather upholstery. Up-market touches on the base Cooper include available automatic air conditioning, a navigation system, panoramic sunroof, and air-conditioned/heated glove box. Three option packages include the Premium Package, Sport Package and Cold Weather Package, along with close to 30 comfort, safety and convenience options. Several options, such as 15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels, come at no additional cost. In the age of the SUV, potential MINI buyers might question the safety of these tiny machines that will be dwarfed by the average Denali, Explorer, LandCruiser or Land Rover. Anticipating these concerns, BMW has taken safety to a new level in the reborn Cooper lineup, adding active safety features, such as four-wheel vented ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Cornering Brake Control, traction control and a standard runflat tire indicator. In addition, passive safety has been enhanced by four airbags (two front, two side) and an optional supplemental head airbag system. Crossbars have been reinforced throughout the vehicle's frame, and child seat ISOFIX tethers are standard equipment. But who are we kidding? MINI owners, who bemoaned BMW's discontinuance and dearth of supplies 30 years ago when the car was phased out of the US didn't buy it for safety - they bought it for fun. This time around, MINI drivers will look for that same spirit, and find the legend lives on as their beloved car has now adaptively evolved to the 21st century. And yet, the new MINI is as recognizable today as it was yesterday- the true test of a classic. Two hot little numbers with the adorable looks of their Austin ancestors and the intelligent engineering their adoptive parent, BMW, the 2003 Cooper twins offer the kind of quirky appeal that customers, who lined up on dealer lots for the Beetle, couldn't get enough of. The MINIs also have the firepower to cruise the highway and zip through town. Will BMW see a big return on this gamble? You can bet the max on the MINI! --By Sue Mead
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