From MotorTrend… The Mini John Cooper Works GP might be one of the most celebrated of the last-generation models, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that Mini will bring a successor to the high-performance, low-volume model – known as the John Cooper Works GP II – to market.
The original Mini GP was a stripped-out and tarted-up version of the 2006 Mini Cooper S, the swansong of the first-generation new Mini. The GP was based on the John Cooper Works Mini Cooper S, but Mini engineers retuned the engine for more power, stripped out the rear seats, and installed a more aggressive aerodynamic kit and performance-rated rolling stock. The result was 215 horsepower, improved handling, and a dramatic look. Mini only sold 2000 GPs worldwide, and only 500 of those were shipped to customers in the United States.
In the years since, the Mini Cooper S transitioned from a supercharged I-4 to a turbocharged one, and John Cooper Works kits have been added to every model and variant from the Roadster to the Countryman. There was little to no mention of a GP successor, until spies recently caught a high-performance Mini testing and predicted it would be the new limited edition model.
That prediction proved to be correct. Mini’s worldwide brand manager Dr. Kay Segler announced at the 2012 New York auto show that there will be a new hi-po, low-volume model, and it will be called the Mini GP II. The car will be unveiled next month at Mini United, a three-day owners festival that will also feature concerts by Martin Solveig and Iggy and the Stooges.
Details are scarce, but we expect that it will match or top the most powerful John Cooper Works Mini Cooper model — the Countryman — and make at least 211 horsepower. Mini fans should also expect the GP II to have an aggressive aero kit and wheels as before. The GP will probably be the current-generation Mini’s swansong, too: we expect the new Mini Cooper family to launch next year.
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – April 4, 2012… During the opening ceremonies at the New York Auto Show today, J.D. Power and Associates recognized MINI for the most improvement in customer experience among mass market brands for their vehicle and dealership experience during the past three years.
“MINI strives to deliver an exceptional owner experience in every aspect of our business, from the online car configurator to the sales and service interaction in our dealerships, as well as in the design of our vehicles and with owner engagement initiatives such as MINI TAKES THE STATES,” said Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA. “We are honored that J.D. Power and Associates has presented MINI with this award, reinforcing that the significant efforts implemented over the last several years are making a difference in the owner community’s overall brand experience.”
The recognition is based on the rate of improvement that the MINI brand has made during the past three years in J.D. Power and Associates’ five core U.S. automotive quality and satisfaction studies: Initial Quality Study (IQS); Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS); Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study; Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study; and Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. While all automotive brands are showing improvement, MINI has improved more than other mass market brands during the turbulence the industry has experienced since 2009.
“This honor recognizes MINI’s dedication to continually improving the quality, dependability, and appeal of their models,” according to J.D. Power and Associates.
(from our friends at MotoringFile.com) For the second year in a row, MINI has been named the top service experience by J.D. Power. When it comes to getting your car worked on, MINI takes the best care of you, according to JDP. The experience customers had with their service advisor at MINI dealerships was apparently just that little bit better.
“Among mass market brands, MINI ranks highest for a second consecutive year with a score of 809. MINI performs particularly well in four of the five measures: service quality, service advisor, service facility and vehicle pick-up. Also among the top five brands in the mass market segment are Buick (805); GMC (803); Chevrolet (801); and Hyundai (791). Of mass market brands, Nissan (which gains 43 points) and Toyota (gains 31 points) achieve the greatest improvements from 2011.”
JDP goes on to make three recommendations that automotive service providers should consider to optimize customer satisfaction:
1. Promote online scheduling of service appointments.
2. Review the technician inspection report with all service customers.
3. Consider the benefits of implementing complimentary maintenance programs.
These are three mainstays of MINI service already, so it’s no surprise that MINI is scoring well. In my experience, having your MINI worked on at the dealership, especially when that dealership shares a facility with a BMW dealership, is an experience that definitely benefits from parent company BMW’s influence. MINI is one of the few mass-market brands where you get a more luxury car-like customer experience. That definitely plays to MINI’s favor in studies like this. Furthermore, having a Service Advisor that you can get to know never hurts either.
An important measure of a vehicle’s value — and appeal — is what it’s expected to be worth three and five years down the road. These figures are the estimated price a dealer would pay if you traded in the vehicle, expressed as a percentage of the original sticker price.
Resale values come from a complex set of calculations based in part on historical data and economic predictions, as well as competition in each automotive segment, how strong a car’s brand is, and supply (including fleet and leasing sales) versus demand.
To win best-resale plaudits, the model must first be selected as one of the top 25 vehicles in its category. Then we pick the vehicle with the highest three-year resale value. No model is eligible for the award if another trim level of the same model has won Best Resale in a lower-price category.
Here is what they said about the MINI Countryman “With a short-SUV-style body reminiscent of a Scion xB or Kia Soul, but with the Mini’s characteristically rounded features, the Countryman’s introduction last year has helped reinvigorate the brand. The biggest Mini also has the highest resale value of any vehicle in our rankings this year — worth a stunning 69% of the original price after three years. ” Also in the top 12 the brand new Coupe. Full article here.
From our friends over at Winding Road
Stand-out-from-the-crowd style can also be amazingly practical – and practicality surprisingly attractive. The MINI Clubvan Concept brings apparently conflicting profiles together into a single package, paving the way for an innovative vehicle concept without parallel in the premium small car segment. The MINI Clubman-based concept car, scheduled for its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show 2012, combines the driving fun for which MINI is renowned with increased load-carrying capability. The MINI experience will therefore find its way into new areas of life, the brand’s distinctive character gaining new popularity among target groups not previously on the MINI radar.
The closed-off load area behind the front seats and the opaque rear side windows of the new concept set it apart most strikingly from the MINI Clubman. The MINI Clubvan Concept uses its broader skill-set to open up new usage possibilities – both business and leisure. Where a business’s customers, product range and operating environment demand a particular style for its vehicles, a premium model can make the perfect delivery solution. For example, a car in the mould of the MINI Clubvan Concept would fit excellently into the fleet of a fashion designer, art gallery owner or event caterer. And its abilities as an all-rounder also tick the right boxes for a photographer with a stack of camera, tripod and lighting equipment to ferry around during the week – and bulky sports and leisure gear to pile on board at the weekend. Full press release here.