Here's why Toyota's Rush is doing so well

Toyota has apparently now completed its utter domination of the SA gravel travel market, writes Lance Branquinho.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Mini answers your questions

2007-12-10 11:14
Whilst it's understood that MINI is a premium offering in the small hatchback segment, many readers stated that they thought the MINI Cooper and Cooper S are overpriced for this market. How does BMW SA justify this price positioning? Would BMW SA consider introducing the MINI One as a more affordable addition to the range?

The MINI Cooper as well as the MINI Cooper S are well priced for the South African market, in line with their premium positioning. Not only do they offer the highest quality, cutting-edge technology, exciting dynamics and unique style, both premium models also come as standard with a high level of standard specification and feature a 3-year/75 000km Motorplan, something some of MINI's so-called class competitors don't offer at the listed retail price.

If you take this into consideration as well as the spec-adjusted pricing of other cars in this segment, bearing in mind that they are no other premium manufacturers in this category, the MINI Cooper and the MINI Cooper S offer high-levels of driving dynamics and standard specification at a price within 5 to 15% of those of our competitors.

In terms of the MINI One, BMW South Africa constantly evaluates new derivatives of all existing model ranges with a view to meeting customer demand within a viable business framework. Evaluation of this MINI derivative is currently underway but no decision has been taken in this regard as yet. Because of our long-range production planning model this means that, in the short-term (i.e. the duration of 2008), the MINI hatch model line-up will remain as is.

There were several queries relating to the John Cooper Works tuning kit recently announced for South African models, either ordered along with a new car, or retro-fitted to an existing car. Readers noted that privately importing and fitting this package was significantly cheaper, including the cost of shipping and import duties, than having it fitted at dealerships. Why would this be the case?

The factory-approved 147 kW John Cooper Works tuning kit is only available at MINI dealerships. Whilst private customers are able to purchase various performance parts from John Cooper Works in the UK for various purposes (most notably motor racing), this kit is not amongst those parts available and is only available through the BMW Group.

Hypothetically, even if customers were able to obtain the kit (which they aren't) and somehow obtain the necessary diagnosis equipment to re-programme the engine ECU (this equipment is only available at Dealers) to accommodate the kit, the warranty and Motorplan of the vehicle would be rendered null and void. This holds true for any modifications (be they non-standard or John Cooper Works) fitted outside of the MINI Dealer Network.

In terms of cost, the tuning kit is extremely well-priced locally at R12 255.18 excluding VAT and labour. The equivalent kit in the United Kingdom, for example, costs ?1095.00 excluding VAT and labour (R14 957.70 at R13.66 to the pound).

Is it possible to specify the JCW power hike without adding the body kit?

The JCW tuning kit and the JCW body kit can be ordered and fitted separately. There is no difference in power hike if the JCW aerodynamic kit is fitted or not.

Specifically, there are several distinct packages available for JCW modification, as listed below, but all parts can be purchased separately.

Components Package 1 Package 2 Package 3
R56 Cooper S JCW tuning kit X X X
JCW Strut Brace   X X
JCW Drilled rotors (brake discs)   X X
JCW Aerodynamic kit     X
18" JCW Composite Wheels     X
JCW Wheel Centre Caps     X
Steering Angle Stop     X
Price (excl. VAT & labour) R 12,255.18 R 15,922.85 R 36,083.08

Also, when will the stage two JCW kit be made available for local models?

Whilst there were several performance levels on previous JCW models, there are currently no plans for additional performance on the current JCW MINI Cooper S. Customers will be able to specify a John Cooper Works tuning kit as a factory-fitted option at a later stage but the timing for this production development has not yet been finalized.

There also appears to be great demand for the MINI diesel, even though BMW SA has stated it will not be importing this model. Why was this decision taken, especially considering the apparent popularity of small diesel cars?

Based on a previous business case presented to BMW AG over a year ago, the demand, at the time, for diesel models of the MINI did not justify the substantial investment the introduction of this derivative would require. Since then, customer requests in this regard have increased substantially and both South Africa and Australia have put forward further business cases to substantiate our demands for diesel MINI models.

These will be evaluated on merit in 2008 and the decision will be relooked accordingly. However, the long-range MINI production planning model means that even if a positive decision is made next year, in the short-term (i.e. the duration of 2008), the MINI hatch model line-up will remain as is.

How much longer would we have to wait for the new convertible and Clubman models to arrive in South Africa?

The MINI Convertible is an independent model within the MINI brand family. Offering outstanding dynamics and the style so typical of MINI, the MINI Convertible is still unique in its segment. The successor of the MINI Convertible, however, will naturally only become available after the common lifecycle.

The new MINI Clubman will enter the South African market at the end of March 2008.


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