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New Mini range to expand

One more: The Mini One could cut the starting price of the F56 hatch range to about $23k when it arrives before year’s end.

Mini One, JCW and four-door all on track for Australian showrooms soon

16 Apr 2014

MINI Australia will expand its newly-launched third-generation F56 series hatch range with a cut-price Mini One and a hot John Cooper Works variant within 12 months.

Furthermore, the as-yet unseen (at least officially) more practical five-door version being worked on and set to premiere at the Paris motor show in September is also as good as certain to hit our shores in the first half of 2015.

The new models will join the Cooper, Cooper D and Cooper S variants that launched here this week, with the One and JCW to serve as ‘book-ends’ at the top and bottom of the range, and the four-door to open the hatch to more practical-minded buyers.

Speaking at the F56 launch this week, Mini Australia national manager Kai Bruesewicz said the company would launch the entry-level One before the end of 2014. With the new Cooper $5000 cheaper than before at $26,650 plus on-road costs, the One could start in the low $20,000s.

The One will replace the outgoing $25,600 Mini Ray in Australia, which has been a popular addition since arriving originally in limited numbers in 2011. Like the Ray, the One has steel wheels, toned-down body trimmings and less standard equipment.

The Mini One is offered with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 75kW and 180Nm. In comparison, the standard Mini Cooper has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo with 100kW and 230Nm.

The new John Cooper Works variant, meanwhile, will make its world debut this year and will arrive in Australia around the first quarter of 2015, according to Mr Bruesewicz. It will be a development of the concept JCW premiered at the Detroit motor show in January this year.

The current JCW costs $50,400, though with the whole F56 range getting price cuts, the new version should dip well below $50k. The outgoing 155kW/260Nm 1.6-litre turbo-four will likely be replaced by a tuned version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder BMW petrol engine found in the Cooper S.

Mini Australia sells a disproportionately high number of JCW variants across its seven-model range, with about 15 per cent of total sales understood to be of the hottest versions.

Finally, while not officially confirmed, a new five-door version of the third-generation Mini hatch is also on the way. It is a natural step in some ways, given the Mini’s UKL platform also underpins BMW’s new 2 Series Active Tourer small hatch.

Speaking with GoAuto last month in Geneva, BMW Mini senior vice president Jochen Goller said it “was not completely unrealistic” to expect the four-door — which has been snapped undisguised by spy photographers — to premiere at September’s Paris motor show.

Given it took the regular hatch five months to arrive in Australia following its world debut in Los Angeles last November, a local launch for the four-door by April next year seems reasonable.

While he would not officially confirm the four-door’s existence this week, Australian chief Mr Bruesewicz said the company’s local arm would be keen to bring it here. Light- and small-car sales in Australia are largely five-door vehicles.

Such a vehicle would give Mini a sizeable sales boost, with Mr Bruesewicz saying this week the company “punched below its weight” with its circa-2500 annual sales in 2013. Mini will stick with seven models, though has not guaranteed it will be the same seven models available now.

“You name it, the Australian market is not known as a typical three-door market like Europe, so therefore if there is a five door version coming in the future, we wouldn’t mind,” he said.

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