Mini's compact Coupe in SA soon
MINI COUP: Will a wrap-around glasshouse really temp Scirocco owners? Image gallery
BMW’s compact car division, Mini, has revealed its new Coupe model line.
It all started with the reborn Cooper back in 2001. Now it's 2011 and Mini's fifth model derivative is supposed to compete with the likes of Peugeot's RCZ and VW's Scirocco.
The proliferation of BMW’s British brand sees Mini add a fifth line to its product offering, promising to be the most dynamically engaging Mini road car yet.
Mini’s Coupe is due to go on sale in South Africa during the fourth quarter of 2011 alongside its Cooper, Convertible, Clubman and Countryman siblings.
Although it has been a long development period – the concept was shown at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show – Mini’s stylists have managed to craft a neat two-door coupe likeness from the brand’s hatchback heritage, although the wrap-around glasshouse will appear odd to some.
Anders Warming, Mini’s design and styling chief, has raked the Coupe’s windscreen by an additional 13-degrees compared to its Cooper range sibling, whilst the aft deck area and
The coupe is between 30 and 35mm lower and 15 to 20mm more substantial bumper-to-bumper than the Cooper hatchback, with Cooper S and John Cooper Works coupe models being 5mm longer and lower than the standard coupe.
Crucially, all Mini Coupe models will ride 29mm lower than their hatchback siblings, clearly signaling BMW’s dynamic intent with its latest development of the British compact-car brand icon. Despite the reduced ride height, Coupe is 25kg heavier than a comparable Cooper due to additional structural stringing to improve torsional rigidity.
An interesting styling add-on (befitting its headline dynamic billing within the Mini range) is an active rear spoiler which deploys from the boot lid at more than 80km/h, harnessing downforce to stabilise the rear kinematics.
Mini will offer the coupe in three trim levels (Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works) with a choice of four engines - three petrol engines (two turbocharged) and a single turbodiesel.
FRUGAL AND (VERY) QUICK
SENSIBLE CABIN?: Those fiddly ergonomics details (primarily the toggles) remain unchanged in the Coupe…
Entry-level power will be courtesy of a 1.6-litre petrol unit producing 90kW/160Nm thanks to BMW’s valvetronic technology.
Mini’s baseline coupe will be good for 0-100km/h in nine seconds and is claimed to consume only 5.4 litres/100km.
The Mini’s Cooper S Coupe adds turbocharging to the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, boosting outputs to 135kW/260Nm.
Performance is (unsurprisingly) keen, with 0-100km/h in only 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 230km/h. Amazingly, despite its rampant performance, the coupe Cooper S is claimed to only consume 0.4 litres/100km more than the normal 1.6...
John Cooper Works (JCW) badging denotes, as one would expect, the coupe range’s performance benchmark. With power boosted to 155kW (and 280Nm) thanks to refinement of the 1.6-litre engine’s twin-scroll turbo and gas-exchange routing, Mini’s JCW coupe is sure to scare TT (Scirocco) owners with its ability to complete the benchmark 0-100km/h sprint in only 6.4 seconds before powering on to 240km/h. Coupe JCW’s brakes are harmonised with the performance at hand, with generously large 316mm rotors rolling behind the front 17-inch alloys and 280mm discs at the rear.
If fuel economy and range are fundamental factors in your coupe purchasing rationale, Mini’s SD coupe, powered by a two-litre common-rail injected turbodiesel engine, is sure to fit the bill. Swift enough, it does 0-100km/h in 7.9 seconds, the coupe SD’s engine outputs of 105kW/305Nm are contrasted with very impressive fuel economy of 4.3 litres/100km.
All Mini Coupe derivatives bar the JCW are also available with an optional six-speed steptronic automatic transmission, featuring paddle-shift functionality.
To ensure the Mini coupe’s handling dynamics are equal to the brand’s enviable motorsport heritage, engineers have added additional bodyshell stiffening at the rear, increasing overall torsional rigidity. Suspension is an all-wheel independent set-up, migrated from the Cooper hatchback range, with the sophisticated multi-link rear suspension mechanics still a class-leading bit of compact hatchback engineering – what else would one expect from BMW’s compact car nameplate?
FEWER SEATS, BIGGER BOOT
HERITAGE?: Will coupe buyers be drawn by a design that’s been enhanced from a hatchback from, instead of a standalone coupe shape?…
In terms of configuration Mini coupe is strictly a two-seater, with limited stowage space behind the first (only) row of seating, with some plastic cladding and a parcel shelf in place where you would usually expect to find the rear seats. Interestingly, Coupe’s boot capacity is 280-litres, 25 units greater than a Mini Clubman.
The four-strong Mini Coupe range’s standard kit tallies a DAB digital radio, air-conditioning, park distance control, alloy wheels (you’d expect nothing less, really), three-spoke sport steering wheel (leather trimmed) and contrast strips on the body work. A wide range of accessories and personalisation choices will be available.
Cabin changes are minimal. The oversized circular central speedometer is carried over from Mini parts-bin, whilst those nearly impossible to operate, undersized, toggle switches remain too…
A Mini Connected App gives Apple iPhone operating Mini Coupe owners the ability to receive Facebook and Twitter posts, display them on the on-board monitor and even have them read out by the optional Mini Connected voice output function. Among the other functions unique in this segment are web radio, Google’s Local Search and Send to Car services, plus reception of user-definable RSS news feeds.
Industry analysts will question the wisdom of BMW's attempt to squeeze too much brand equity from the Mini brand with derivatives such as the coupe, yet with the Bavarian auto giant seeking more sales activity in lower segments of the premium market (where VW has the Scirocco), the 'Werke's logic is understandable.
The question remains though: will South African's warm to the idea of a Mini sans its rear seats?