Monday, 16 April 2007

What's outside today 1 - the MINI Cooper D

This is the new MINI Cooper D, which goes back today. Expect it to turn up on the Verdict in the next few weeks. BMW introduced revised versions of the Cooper and Cooper S a few months back and now the rest of the range is being refreshed too. The new diesel power unit is from PSA, rather than the previous supplier, Toyota. The replacement engine's extra pep has encouraged BMW to stick its neck out and make the new diesel a Cooper instead of a variant of the basic ONE model. After driving the car, I think the change is justified.

At the moment, there is no direct replacement for the previous diesel version of the ONE. The new petrol-powered ONE, which like the Cooper D was launched last Friday, gets an appealing new BMW-built 1.4 litre engine developed in conjunction with PSA. The petrol engines fitted to the closed versions of the latest MINI are all sourced from BMW's Hams Hall plant near Birmingham. The cabriolet, which has not so far seen the same revisions as the standard model, sticks with the Chrysler engine shipped in from Brazil that was adopted for the first version of the BMW MINI in 2001.

As I discovered on a visit to BMW's impressive production site in Oxford last week, the cabriolet accounts for an astonishing 25% of MINI sales these days. That Oxford plant, incidentally, is the one that used to be called Cowley in the old British Leyland days, when it pumped out Marinas, Itals, Princesses, Ambassadors and so on - but it's changed out of all recognition under BMW's ownership. BMW bought the Rover Group from British Aerospace in 1994, and kept Cowley and the MINI after it disposed of Rover and Land Rover in 2000. Annual production will be pushing 280,000 when the new estate version of the MINI comes on stream later this year.

No comments: