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New models - Mini - Hatch

Mini updates slogan ... oh yeah, and the car

Hot stuff: The Mini range has been doubled with the addition of the locally developed Chilli specification.

Mini undergoes minor upgrade as advertising campaign kicks off

Mini logo8 Sep 2004

By BRUCE NEWTON

THE marketing blueprint that is Mini hits a new gear in Australia this month with the unveiling of a new position statement and TV advertising campaign.

Oh yeah, there’s a couple of changes to the model range as well.

'Let’s Mini' is the BMW-owned small car’s new tagline, arriving just after Mini number 500,000 issued from the Oxford (UK) assembly plant. That’s only three years after launch and two years ahead of schedule.

So Mini has been an undoubted global success and no question too that Australia has played its role, with 1450 Coopers and supercharged Cooper S versions sold in 2002 and 1633 in 2003.

This year, as supply has drizzled away in the lead up to this month’s update, sales have slipped back.

National Mini manager Shawn Ticehurst is predicting about 1500 sales for the full year. In January 2005 (after a preview in Sydney in October) comes the Mini Cabrio and the prospect for the Australian arm to drive annual sales beyond 2000 cars.

But that’s the future. Right now Mr Ticehurst and his team are concentrating on maintaining volume by selling the Mini updates first shown internationally at Geneva in March, as well as adding in a few of their own ideas.

In a nutshell:  The Mini range has been doubled with the addition of the locally developed Chilli specification as the higher level.

 The entry models are now cheaper thanks to some judicious de-speccing.

 The entry Cooper drops to $29,500 from $32,650, achieving that by swapping from 16 to 15-inch alloys and deleting the sports seats and chrome bumper trim.

 The Cooper S entry price drops from $39,990 to $38,500 with the replacement of cloth/leather interior trim with cloth.

39 center image  The Cooper Chilli retails for $32,500, while the Cooper S Chilli is $41,500. Add $2200 for the Steptronic CVT version of the Cooper, while the S continues with only a six-speed manual transmission.

 The enormous list of accessories is also lengthened.

The base Cooper specification still includes ABS with CBC and EBD, six airbags, leather steering wheel, air-conditioning, trip computer and six-speaker CD audio. All the deleted spec returns in Chilli along with cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and seat lumbar and height adjustment (among other things).

Cooper S still includes ASC+T traction control, cruise control, front foglights, rear spoiler and sports seats, while S Chilli reclaims cloth/leather and also includes 17-inch wheels, Xenon headlights, climate control air-conditioning and Harman/Kardon eight-speaker audio.

In terms of core mechanicals, the base models and their Chilli running mates are identical, which is a pretty accurate indicator of just what Mini Australia has done here – raided the options and accessories list. And don’t look for any identification either, as there won’t be a single Chilli logo on either car.

So just what are the mechanical changes? Unsurprisingly, there’s nothing that changes the car’s core transverse 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive set-up, or suspension or brake specification:  Cooper’s five-speed transmission has shorter ratios and a 1Nm increase in torque to 150Nm, which Mini claims provides improved in-gear performance.

 The Cooper S gains 5kW (to 125kW) and 19Nm (to 220Nm) courtesy of changes to the supercharger design, meaning it has a 4km/h increase in top speed (222km/h), is two seconds quicker from 0-100km/h (7.2) and has improved in-gear performance.

Although minor, there have also been some changes to styling:  Outside, there is a new grille design housing three rather than four slats, new front bumpers for both models and rear bumper for the Cooper and clear-glass design headlights and new-look tail-lights.

 Inside, there are wider armrests, two extra storage spaces, additional front passenger grabhandle and lockable glovebox.

If you think this all sounds like pretty minor stuff, you are right. But no doubt with ‘Let’s Mini’ doing it’s thing, the phenomenon will roll on.

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