RAC Cars News


New 2014 Mini Revealed in Oxford

By raccars Published

The all-new MINI has been revealed at the British home of the iconic small car, Plant Oxford. It was revealed on the birthday of the car’s original creator, Sir Alec Issigonis – but this high-tech new model is far removed from his basic original…

The covers have come the brand-new MINI prior to its market launch in Spring 2014. Set to cost from £15,350 in launch Cooper guise, the new MINI is bigger, bolder and better all round, promises BMW, with a greater emphasis on premium quality than ever before.

It still looks like a MINI, of course. This will never change, said the two BMW Group board members present at the car’s launch. “The MINI is an iconic design,” said BMW board member in charge of MINI, Peter Schwarzenbauer. “When you have an icon, you can’t put a revolution on it.”

The firm has tweaked the front end, though: it’s longer and more voluminous than before, to swallow the latest safety design that lessens pedestrian impact injuries. Some weren’t sure of this at the car’s launch, although as the MINI has grown in most other dimensions, it’s still in proportion. Only height hasn’t grown much – making it look a bit more planted and hunkered down than before.

A bigger exterior means it is bigger inside. The front seats are more ample (and very comfortable) while rear passenger space has been given a much-needed boost. The boot is far larger as well: 211 litres is still not supermini-sized, but it’s a useful sight larger than the old car’s 150-litre boot…

The MINI’s higher quality interior packs in more gadgets, including online services accessed through the central screen: several grades are optionally available here and the firm expects uptake to be high. MINI customers are willing to spend big on MINI connectivity!

MINI will offer the new Hatch model in three Cooper variants. The Cooper D is the most economical – it’s the first-ever MINI that will do more than 80mpg, thanks to an all-new 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel. The Cooper S alternative has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that produces 189hp: this hot model is good for 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds.

The star of the new range is the basic Cooper, though. This has an all-new British-built 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine that produces 134hp and a massive 169lb ft of torque. It can hit 62mph from rest in just 7.2 seconds – well over a second faster than the current Cooper – yet can also average 62.8mpg. A fantastic combination that will easily make it the most popular variant.

A BMW-derived front-wheel drive chassis will deliver all the expected fun-to-drive agility with an added dose of comfort. MINI even offers adaptive dampers as an option, for yet more sophistication.

It all sounds good… but what about the styling? Well, there’s no denying it’s familiar, but all this is intentional. The iconic styling cues have been emphasised: the round headlights can be had with an LED running light pattern, the hexagonal grille more closely mimics the 1959 original and subtle creases in the metalwork enhance the famous black wheelarch spats.

MINI is insistent: at first glance, it is familiar, but spend time with it and the premium detailing – and the resultant desirability – will show through. Having already spent a few hours with the new car, we’re sure they’re right…

New MINI: same as the old MINI. Only better all round. Just as it should be.

2014 MINI prices

MINI says prices are up by an average of 2.6 per cent – a rise that’s more than offset by the car’s extra features, not to mention the much better fuel efficiency of the key Cooper model.

It will be launched in Cooper guise: other variants will follow later in 2014.

MINI Cooper: £15,350
MINI Cooper S: £18,650
MINI Cooper D: £16,450

On sale: Spring 2014

… And if you can’t wait for the all-new MINI, here’s how you can buy a used version of ‘The New Original’ – with RAC Cars approved prices starting from just £2395!

The 2001 MINI - Prices from £2395

The original new MINI was a groundbreaking model from the firm. Developed when BMW owned Rover Group, it took over the project and engineered it to its own standards, although some of the old Rover engineering can still be seen. Pure and sharply-cut, it is a testimony to the strength of the design that it still looks great more than 12 years on.

Inside, it’s stylish too, with delightful features such as chrome-finished toggle switches. However, interior quality perhaps isn’t as BMW-like as some may expect, and to modern eyes, it does look a bit cheap in places. Space is also far from great – this is the biggest failing of the two original BMW MINIs, particularly boot space which struggles with even mid-week shops, never mind the weekly supermarket visit.

The MINI One is too slow, making the MINI Cooper the one you should hunt for. The Cooper D is disappointing – it uses a weak Toyota motor – but the Cooper S, with its supercharged engine – is much more like it.

Of course, at this age, you need to check the cars very carefully. Listen for clattery engines, weak gearboxes and other general rattles: there are almost certain to be a few, given the patchy interior quality in places, so just try to avoid the worst. It’s worth checking for rust and, with the Cooper S, of course make all the usual checks for signs of hard use. The last thing you want is a thrashed MINI – for this reason, it’s also a good idea to run a vehicle history check.

The 2007 MINI - Prices from £5000

The 2007 MINI brought big improvements to the original ‘BMW MINI’, without altering the look too much (you can spot them from their bigger recessed spotlamps in the front bumper). Packing a range of BMW-sourced engines that were more efficient and refined than the original motors, this was the MINI that really introduced buyers to the premium concept.

The choice of options was enormous and it was now possible to spend a fortune trimming a MINI to a bespoke finish. This is reflected on the used market where the array of models available is enormous: choose carefully and be wary about paying over the odds as not all the special features are worth as much as owners think!

More MINI variants were now offered, and this time round, the high-performance John Cooper Words variants were now more widely available. We’d still go for a regular Cooper or Cooper S though: diesels, meanwhile, are very efficient but you pay a little more for them and the Cooper itself is still decent on fuel.

Listen out for engine rattles, particularly from the Cooper S, and make sure the MINI service history has been kept up to date (the tlc packs are such a bargain, you should worry if there are any gaps). Do check that all the new electronic gadgets work as well!

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