BMW has pulled the wraps of the next generation MINI at their Oxford plant in the UK along with simultaneously unveiling it at the Tokyo Motor Show and LA Motor Show with a new tag line “The New Original”. The car that started life in 1959, the all ‘New MINI’ is now in its third generation (Mk3) and gets bigger on the outside and tech laden on the inside. The Mk3 MINI is being built on the UKL platform which will also underpins the next generation Clubman and Countryman along with the upcoming BMW 2-Series Active Tourer Mini MPV.
For a brand that is known for its iconic looks and styling, the designers at MINI have retained the original silhouette of the car, with the styling being more evolved than its predecessor. The car definitely looks to have come out of its adolescence and in with the manlier look. The lights are reminiscent to the original design, while Adaptive LED lights are made available.
In terms of size, the MINI is not really that mini anymore. The 2015 MINI Cooper has grown in size and is 3821 mm long, 1727 mm wide and 1414 mm high while being 98 mm longer, 44 mm wider and 7 mm taller than the outgoing version. The overall wheelbase length has increased by 28 mm, so expect appreciable legroom at the rear seats this time round. The boot capacity has also increased by 51 litres and can be increased with foldable rear seats.
For the interiors, the new MINI sees an evolution. The car is now more practical with its equipment and ergonomics as much as it had been emotional on the previous generations. MINI retains the circular central speedometer, but it will not show you the speed anymore. It has been converted into a display screen only. The speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and other essential display information are housed behind the steering wheel.
The centre console is made available for other things like the music system and the air-conditioning control. You also get an optional pop-up display unit and adaptive cruise control. The vehicle also comes with an on-board SIM card that will phone the emergency services in the event of an accident. MINI also offers ‘ MINI Connected’ if you wish to connect your smart phone or iPod to the car. The evergreen toggle switches continue on this generation as well.
The most significant change comes under the hood as the 2015 MINI will be powered by three-cylinder engines for the first time. The Cooper receives the 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder unit that produces 134 HP of power as well as a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder diesel mill that produces 114 HP of power that will be seen on the Cooper D; while the 4-cylinder petrol unit will power the Cooper S variant producing 189 BHP.
BMW says the fuel consumption and emissions on the MINI have been reduced by up to 27 percent compared to the outgoing model, with fuel consumption promised at 80 mpg (34 km/l) and an impressive 92 g/km emissions from the Cooper D. All the three engines will come with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a 6-speed automatic will be optional across the range. A paddle shifting sports automatic transmission will also be offered as an option.
The suspension has been redesigned based on customer feedback. The previous customers complained of the rigid ride quality. The new suspension can be equipped with damper control for ride or handling. The front axle receives a wishbone setup, while the rear will get the multi-link setup. The lighter body and the new suspension technology have added to the glorious go-kart like feel of the MINI.
Much like the older MINI, there will be loads of options to customise your MINI and give it that unique look that it’s known for. Customisation’s include trim options for the roof, exterior mirrors, upholstery and interior options. Your mind is the limit in this case. Not to forget the John Cooper Works variant that will push the envelope even further. You get to choose from an assortment of 12 colours on the exterior with new additions made to the Mk3 MINI’s palette namely Volcanic Orange, Moonwalk Grey, Blazing Red, Deep Blue and Electric Blue. While the interior can be customised with a choice of 10 different seat cover designs and optional trim surface variants.
The MINI will be made available in the UK by next spring, with prices starting at £15,300 for the standard Cooper and £18,650 for the Cooper S version. The Indian debut of the 2015 MINI will happen late next year or in early 2015. Expect the prices to inflate by a small amount compared to the current models on sale in India. The 2015 MINI has changed for good, but still retains its emotional appeal true to its original form. In a niche market segment of modern icons, MINI surely packs in more muscle and definitely more punch. Has it made Fiat (500) and Volkswagen (Beetle) sit up and take notice though?