BMW has launched the third-generation of its modern Mini in a major ceremony at the factory in Oxford, where the car is built. Prices for Ireland have already been confirmed and will start from €22,530 when it goes on sale early next year.
Unlike the 2006 refresh of the model, this one is all new from the ground up. In fact, the UKL1 platform upon which the new Mini is built will also go on to see service in a new family of front-wheel-drive BMW models, starting with the 2 Series Multi Activity Tourer.
Outside, styling changes have been kept to a minimum – Mini clearly knows that a major part of the car’s appeal lies in its retro looks – but inside, the changes are more profound. The most significant change is a major increase of 42mm in the length of the wheelbase, which frees up much more rear legroom, transforming the car from effectively a 2+2 coupe into something that a family could potentially use as a daily driver. To underscore that fact, Mini will next year launch a five-door hatchback version, the first such model in Mini’s history. Clubman estate and cabriolet versions will follow, as will an entry-level Mini One version. And, pleasingly, although the car is larger overall, its weight has actually fallen.
All models will be powered by a new family of engines, and the core Cooper and Cooper Diesel versions will get all-new 1.5-litre three-cylinder units, which promise typically sporty power outputs with exceptional efficiency.
The Cooper petrol model sees power climb to 134hp (up from 120hp) while the Cooper D keeps its 115hp power output, but returns a staggering 80mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle, with a CO2 emissions figure of 98g/km.
Inside, the dinner-plate-sized central speedo has gone – moved to the steering column along with the rev counter and fuel gauge. In its place is a large colour infotainment screen controlled by an iDrive-like system mounted between the front seats. Keyless ignition is now standard, and the starter button has also moved – it’s now a large toggle switch on the centre console, while the buttons for the electric window switches have moved to the doors.
The increased standard specification on the new Mini includes electrically adjustable exterior mirrors, air-conditioning, door sill cover strips with a model-specific inscription, front fog lamps, onboard computer, Mini Radio including aux-in, USB interface and Bluetooth. These can be supplemented with a range of desirable options for comfort, convenience, additional functionality and customisation. They include two-zone automatic air-conditioning, heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, visibility package, including windscreen heating, rain sensor and automatic light control, a Harman Kardon hi-fi speaker system and a sports leather steering wheel. Other options include Park Distance Control, electrically heated and folding exterior mirrors, and both interior and exterior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle function.