New models - Mini - 5-door
Driven: Cooper 5-door to top Mini sales charts
Mini says prices held it back, looks to 5-door Cooper to lead a sales charge
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30 Oct 2014
By TIM ROBSON
MINI Australia has admitted that its pricing and supply issues have held the brand back during the past year, but it is looking to the newly-launched 5-door Cooper variants to bolster the bottom line.
In a soft year for BMW’s funky offshoot, Mini sales are down by 12 per cent year-on-year with 1738 units shifted compared with 1976 during the same period last year.
Mini Australia general manager Kai Bruesewitz told GoAuto at the launch of the 5-door this week that the brand's local pricing required a review, given the changing nature of the new-car market.
“We have probably been, in recent years, in Australia on the higher end in our segment,” he said. “Obviously those dynamics in the market here in Australia, we wanted to be, from a price perspective, more appealing to the market. That's why we have reviewed our position, and then made those (price) changes.” Despite playing his cards close to his chest when it came to divulging predicted sales numbers for the Mini range, Mr Bruesewitz said he expects the newly-launched Mini 5-Door to be the brand’s biggest seller in Australia.
“Time will tell, I guess. You understand I'm probably under enough pressure, and don't want to expedite that by publicly saying or raising any expectation, (but) we wouldn't develop and then offer a five-door version if we wouldn't see incremental volume opportunities.” While VFACTS figures show a January to September sales total of 1086 units for the Mini Cooper three-door hatch, the new-gen model that arrived in April has clocked up 638 since launch, averaging more than 150 per month in the past three months.
Mini product manager Daniel Silverman quickly moved to dispel the notion that the 5-door is little more than a re-purposed Countryman.
“It's a new platform that's been developed for the 5-door,” he said. “It shares its architecture with the (BMW) 2-Series Active Tourer.” At 161mm longer, 11mm taller and 60kg heavier, the 5-door is identical to the F56 Mini hatch from the A-pillars forward. Some 70mm has been added to the wheelbase to increase rear legroom, while the gently sloping roof profile adds 15mm more rear headroom.
Mimicking the recently released 3-door line-up in specification and trim levels, the 5-door version is $1100 dearer across the three-variant range than its three-door brethren.
That means the base Cooper starts at $27,750, the Cooper D is priced from $32,900 and the sporty Cooper S is $38,050, plus on-road costs.
The entry-level Mini Cooper is equipped with the brand’s three-cylinder turbo 1.5-litre petrol engine that makes 100kW at 4400rpm, and 220Nm of torque at a low 1250rpm.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a six-speed automatic available across the line-up for $2350. An uprated version with paddle shifters, a launch control function and a leather-bound JCW steering wheel is an additional $300.
Fuel consumption is rated at 5.0 litres per 100km for the manual, while the auto record a 4.9-litre figure. It does the 0-100km/h dash in 8.1 seconds in auto guise.
The Cooper S is powered by a direct-injection 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol powerplant. Equipped with both variable valve and camshaft timing, as well as a variable-geometry turbo, it produces 141kW between 4700 and 6000rpm, and 280Nm of torque from 1250 to 4750rpm.
It consumes 5.5 litres per 100km in auto form, and 6.0 litres in manual guise, while reeling off the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.9 seconds (manual) and 6.8 seconds (auto). It tops out at 230km/h.
The three-cylinder turbo-diesel Cooper D, meanwhile, makes 85kW and 270Nm, and returns the best economy figures of the range at a claimed 3.8 litres per 100km (manual) and 3.9 litres (auto).
At the entry level, the Cooper comes standard with single-zone air-conditioning, auto lights and wipers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a basic audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, four electric windows and dynamic cruise control. There are six airbags and rear parking sensors fitted as standard, but no reversing camera.
Both the Cooper D and the Cooper S are specced with dual-zone air-conditioning and an enhanced infotainment system with a 6.5-inch central screen, a BMW iDrive-like controller and streaming Bluetooth.
This system can be upgraded to incorporate a rear-vision camera for an additional $470 charge the base Cooper needs to be optioned up with the enhanced infotainment system first before it can run a reversing camera. The top-spec S also scores satellite navigation and leather-accented sports seats.
The base Cooper is fitted with 15-inch alloys and a rear fog-light, while the D comes with 16s and the S with 17s. Both the D and S sport front fog-lights, while the S also runs a bespoke grille and side skirt inserts.
All three cars offer a full suite of active and passive safety systems, including front, side and curtain airbags, brake assist with cornering brake control, dynamic stability and traction control and parking sensors. An inflation kit takes the place of a spare tyre. The 5-door R56 is yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP or ANCAP.
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