by Gord Scott
“The look is lower, longer, and wider but the front of the car remains resolutely smiley-face Mini.”
It’s hard to stand out in this stylish city full of blondes, boats and boutique prices – but a shapely rear end helps.
The 2016 Mini Clubman’s caboose earned its share of stares during a recent debut on the cobblestone streets of Sweden’s capital.
This third-generation Clubman is the biggest Mini yet, taking the famous BMW-owned brand from “subcompact” to “premium compact” territory.
It would have been easy to mess this assignment up: Upsize an odd-duck subcompact model (the previous Clubman, with its bizarre fifth “suicide door” layout), add a host of roomy creature comforts, religiously adhere to the spunky personality of the car, and make it look like a Mini.
Thankfully, the Mini-ons were up to the task.
Read: ‘The 2016 Mini Clubman Is The Cool Mini For Grown-Ups‘ via Jalopnik
They started with a new chassis, shared with BMW’s front-wheel-drive 2-Series Active Tourer.
The look is lower, longer, and wider but the front of the car remains resolutely smiley-face Mini. As the elongated roof stretches over the four full doors and begins to taper, however, things become interesting. The new Clubman is pleasantly two-faced – the trademark “barn doors” combine with sheet-metal and taillight curves to give the rear an arresting “I’m-watching-you” look.
All of this design work has one aim – more cupholders. Well, not really. It’s about making it possible to fit in four of your friends or family, plus some luggage. (If you reduce that to four in total, the two in the back do, indeed, get to enjoy cupholders that spring from a fold-down armrest.)
Project leader Ernst Fricke proudly proclaimed that the Clubman can “be used as the first car in the family.”
The interior certainly lives up to the premium label, and the dash, steering wheel and heads-up display fairly bristle with infotainment connectivity. The presence of a real console (yes, cupholders and storage) comes courtesy of the use of an electric parking brake, and adds unprecedented (for Mini) elbow room. Lots of very cool LED lighting would help ward off some of the inevitable blues brought on by long, dark Swedish winters.
The front seats (electric is an option) offer just the right amount of bolstering for go-kart moves, and legroom is fine for an almost-six-footer. A short ride aft revealed almost un-Mini-like room for backseat drivers, although road noise and roughness seemed more pronounced than up front.
Trunk volume with the rear seats folded down is listed at about 44 cubic feet (compared to the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon’s cavernous 66.5 cubic feet), and there is an optional three-way splitting rear seat back to juggle loads.
The barn doors allow plenty of access for those Ikea boxes, and get even more fun with the optional easy-opener feature. With the key in your pocket, one kick under the rear bumper opens the right door, another kick opens the left. Chances are most shopping trips will only require a single kick at the Clubman’s can to stow the stuff.
The Clubman shares engine choices with the rest of the Mini clan; a base three-cylinder with 102 horsepower, the Cooper’s three-cylinder at 136 horsepower, or the Cooper S’s four-cylinder with 192. Transmission choices are the six-speed manual, or a new eight-speed automatic. BMW’s usual arsenal of road-conquering technologies are either built in or are available.
The Stockholm area presented a few challenges. Firstly, it is city of 14 islands, with hundreds more nearby. This means a lot of water, which means a lot of bridges – and a good number of ferries.
The rolling, lake-studded Canadian Shield-like landscape northeast of Stockholm does present inviting stretches – but the tempting country roads are home to the very vigilant police force, and dreaded Blue Meanies.
Once the Clubman broke free from these constraints, its inner go-kart was revealed. There was never any doubt that there was more Mini than usual to throw around, but fun could be summoned – especially with Sport mode selected. The manual certainly kept it real, but the automatic really needed to be in its own Sport mode to simulate the experience.
This new six-door strikes a nice compromise between Mini mania and multitasking. Like the car, the families who take delivery after the Clubman shows up in showrooms early next year are growing out, not up. The Mini Cooper Clubman starts at $24,990, the Mini Cooper S Clubman at $28,990. Of course, these being Minis means infinite (almost) options and individualization, which would take you north of that pretty quickly.
“Using see-through technology, the eyewear projects information in the driver’s direct field of view without concealing other traffic.”
MINI is bringing a completely new meaning to driving glasses.
At the Shanghai Auto show, the BMW sub-brand has offered first sight of its revolutionary eyewear.
“MINI Augmented Vision gives an insight into how intelligent connectivity between a MINI car and eyewear into which relevant content is projected might work in the future,” explained Dr. Jörg Preißinger, project-manager MINI Augmented Vision, BMW Group research and technology.
“Working with several Qualcomm companies, we have created an interlinked system and augmented reality eyewear with a characteristic MINI design that revolutionise the experience both in and outside the vehicle. This prototype with its customised, interactive functions succeeds in fusing augmented reality with the brand’s trademark sense of lifestyle.”
Using see-through technology, the eyewear projects information in the driver’s direct field of view without concealing other traffic.
“We are proud to have helped develop a breakthrough augmented reality interface between eyewear and the automobile,” said Jay Wright, Vice President, Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc. “MINI Augmented Vision offers a compelling example of what’s possible today, and what we can expect in the future.”
The technology will enable drivers to enter destination details outside of the car then transfer the information to the onboard navigation. The navigation will then display from the current location to the vehicle or from the vehicle to the final destination. Direction instructions in the shape of coloured arrows will appear projected on the road ahead at the turns.
Current speed and posted speed limits will be projected into the driver’s field of view above the steering wheel, without obscuring the road ahead.
A small icon shows in the eyewear when a message is received and the SMS/message can then be read out by the “car”.
Now this is an amazing feature: A virtual view through parts of the vehicle (such as A-pillars and doors) makes visible external areas or objects concealed by the car’s body parts!
When I got mine, it had authentic woodworm in the bits that made it look like a mini Brit version of the Woodies that were so popular on this side of the Atlantic at the time.”
Yet another version of the popular Mini is out and selling for around $120.
Well, it is a LEGO brick replica of the original Cooper Mk VII, produced between August 1997 and July 1998. That was the last generation of the original very mini-Mini, which was soon replaced by the Mini on steroids that BMW now produces very profitably.
Interestingly, the price tag for the beautifully crafted “toy” is about the same as I paid for my used 1966 Mini Countryman Mark II back in 1974.
The LEGO version bears many authentic details, from the classic green and white color scheme with white wing mirrors and racing stripes. When I got mine, it had authentic woodworm in the bits that made it look like a mini Brit version of the Woodies that were so popular on this side of the Atlantic at the time.
Dad suggested we strip out the wood but the garage guy thought the whole darn thing might fall apart if we did. Oh, brother! My dad, as a model plane painter of some repute, bought a few cans of paint and carefully painted the wood black. Then he hand painted the rest of the body blue. Couldn’t see a brush stroke when he had finished.
The model has doors, hood and trunk that open – more than you could say for mine on many occasions. Sporty fog lights are featured as well as a detailed four-cylinder engine – transversely mounted, of course. There’s also separate spare tire compartment. Had one of those to house a spare that was as bald as I am now.
You can even remove the roof to access a tan colored interior with patterned seats, veneer-style dashboard, turning steering wheel, and moving gearshift and handbrake. I had a hole in my roof at one point but the only thing that came through it was rain, by the bucketful.
This Cooper model measures more than 11cm in height, stretches 25cm in length and is about 14cm wide. Dimensionally it doesn’t sound much smaller that my real live, constantly stalling machine. Mind you that’s what happens when you aquaplane through gigantic duck pond-sized puddles on the narrow back lanes I travelled through the rural northwest of Lancashire on my way to journalism school.
The set is part of the Creator Expert series and I must say the thought of putting together 1,077-parts is somewhat daunting. Perhaps no more so than my old banger after a breakdown. A girlfriend at the time always wondered why it would quit in the darkest back lanes. Which reminds me, the LEGO car accessories includes a picnic basket, bottle and blanket… I had a blanket in the back of mine but it wasn’t for picnic use.
Ah, those fond memories will come flooding back if Santa does his job this year.
Perhaps it might be too early to start thinking of going topless.
Then again, maybe not.
Dreaming about the days when we don’t need to crank the heat to full blast in the house, or bundle up to go outside to shovel snow are warming thoughts. And so is the thought of open air driving. Here are five convertibles under $30K that might help beat the winter blahs and get you thinking about the sun.
Fiat 500C – $16,495
As if the Fiat 500 wasn’t cute enough, there’s also a drop top version to give it even more character. The Pop trim has a starting price of $16,495, whereas the Lounge trim is still starts under $20K at $19,895. Both come with a 1.4L, 4-cylinder MultiAir engine, which produces 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque. Okay, I know that’s not an incredible amount of ponies but, hey, we’re all equal is stop-and-go traffic, right?
To catch the attention of fellow commuters, the 500C comes with the option of 3 canvas top colours and 14 different exterior hues.
You can even retract the roof while driving. Push the power-operated canvas roof button once and it will open the top to the midway position at speeds up to 96 km/hr. Push it again, and it retracts behind the rear head restraints at speeds up to 80 km/hr.
VW Beetle Convertible – $29,075
One of the most recognizable vehicles on the road is the VW Beetle. And its convertible version offers a very similar silhouette as its coupe sibling, thus helping it easily be spotted.
The latest generation of German convertible is better than ever. Boasting more trunk room (now rated at 201L as opposed to 141L) than the previous two generations, a more “masculine” look and better driving dynamics.
There are two engines to choose from: a 1.8L, 4-cylidner that produces 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.0L, 4-cylinder turbocharged (TSI) model with 200 horsepower with the manual transmission (but 210hp with the optional automatic DSG) and 207 lb-ft of torque.
Mazda MX-5 – $29,250
Given the title of the world’s most popular 2-seat sports car, it’s not hard to see why. The front engine, rear-wheel drive Mazda MX-5 is a blast to drive. Ask anyone who has captained it.
Whether taking it out for a spin on the road or the track, this tiny two-door has nothing but good times woven into its sheet metal.
The Mazda MX-5’s manual vinyl top takes only a few seconds to drop down, allowing its driver and passenger to experience a completely new world of topless driving.
Under its pint-size hood is a 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine with an output of 167 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque.
There’s also the option to outfit the MX-5 with various transmissions: a 5-speed manual, a 6-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters, there’s fun to be had by all.
Mustang Convertible – $29,499
Under the hood of this American muscle car, the Ford Mustang’s 3.7L, V6 engine will give you the grunt and glory of 305 horsepower. You’ll also be able to fit four people inside along with 272L of cargo around back.
Despite the healthy dose of ponies under the hood, wrangling this convertible is anything but a chore. With either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, you’d be pleasantly surprised as to how gracious this ‘Stang can be to drive. Then again, if you want to fire this rear-wheel drive vehicle up, you might just giggle in the process.
MINI Convertible – $29,500
There’s something to be said about driving a MINI. It’s unlike any other experience out there. It feels like driving a street-legal go-kart, but without the abrasiveness that go-karts can have. Its pristine handling and fabulous gearbox only enhance the experience. Granted, visibility out the rear with the top up isn’t fabulous, and there isn’t a lot of trunk space (but there still is room for four!), those are secondary details. Take the 121 horsepower MINI Convertible for a spin and fall in love with things that come in small packages.
Canadian Olympic team sponsors BMW and MINI are celebrating their association with imaginative video.
The BMW tribute (above) is heartwarming while MINI’s is plain fun as a garage full of MINIs sing “O Canada”.
To mark the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, BMW premiered its 60-second spot as part of its integrated Olympic marketing campaign, Powering Performance. The campaign communicates the parallels between the high performance of BMW vehicles and the high performance of Canadian Olympic athletes.
“At BMW, peak performance, innovation, and style are at our core,” said Kevin Marcotte, Director of Marketing at BMW Canada. “Powering Performance brings to life the synergies between our brand and the elite athletes competing in Sochi, and celebrates our Team BMW Olympians as they keep their eye on their craft – and on gold.”
The Powering Performance platform and creative was developed by Cundari, BMW Canada’s creative agency. The campaign includes one 60-second TV spot, and three 15-second spots featuring three of six Team BMW sponsored athletes – Olympic champions Kaillie Humphries (Bobsleigh) and Charles Hamelin (Short Track Speed Skating), and first-time Olympian Roz Groenewoud (Freestyle Skiing – Halfpipe).
The spots were directed by award-winning director-photographer Shin Sugino, and feature the high-performance BMW M5, the all-new BMW 4 Series Coupé, the next generation BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and the BMW i8, the new electric vehicle from the sub-brand BMW i.
Using the visual metaphor of “Blue Energy”, BMW’s signature colour, Powering Performance is meant to symbolize how BMW Canada is powering Canada’s athletes to achieve their best and secure their place on the Olympic podium. Topix, one of Canada’s leading post-production houses, fused the Blue Energy to each of the featured athletes as they power through every twist, turn and jaw-dropping trick. An anthemic original music track by award-winning Canadian music composer Grayson Matthews, supports the world-class visuals.
The campaign amassed more than 200 hours of rotoscoping, 150 hours of background painting, 50 versions of ‘Blue Energy’, and 500 hours of compositing to achieve the desired effect.
The TV spots are also supported by digital, out of home, consumer drive events and contesting, and social media, using hashtags #TeamBMW and #PoweringPerformance, and a two-minute dynamic behind-the-scenes spot exclusively for YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Real-time posting to digital banner ads, bmw.ca and social media will show BMW Canada’s support for Team Canada and its Team BMW athletes every step of the way.
Go online for more information on BMW Canada’s Olympic Partnership and the Powering Performance Campaign.
Over at the BMW subsidiary, MINI teamed up with Toronto creative agency Richmond
Day, Corner Store Films and SNDWRX Audio to produce a 60-second Olympics-themed online spot (above) in which a group of MINI vehicles ‘spring to life’ to perform a unique rendition of the Canadian National Anthem.
The video, aptly titled “MINI Sings O Canada”, features a musical track that was created using only the sounds emitted by the MINI vehicles themselves – a melange of MINI horns, doors closing, electronics, and engine revs, to name but a few.
VIDEO: Charles Hamelin’s Powering Performance Ad for BMW Canada
Pictures courtesy of BMW Canada:
The GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future…
Flocks of international journalists roamed the floors of COBO Hall in downtown Detroit on the occasion of the 25th annual North American International Auto Show.
With a plethora of automotive goodness under one roof, it’s hard to narrow down which ones to focus on. After all, there are concepts, production vehicles and much more. And there are a lot of them.
To kick things off on my list, let’s start with some concepts.
Ah, MINIs. For over a decade, they have been romping the streets and causing people to smile, whether driving them, sitting in them or watching them.
At the NAIAS, the masses were introduced to the MINI John Cooper Works Concept. Not a whole heck of a lot of information was released but you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll be fast. There are large air inlets, 18-inch wheels and the unmistakable MINI silhouette and face. It’s built as much for the road as it is the track. Did I mention it’ll be fast? Until the production vehicle is produced, we will just have to be patient and wait for pricing, specs and all the fun stuff.
Kia certainly drew the crowds when it came to their GT4 Stinger Concept.
According to Kia, the “GT4 Stinger was conceived by the “gearheads” in Kia’s Irvine, Calif., design studio, birthplace of iconic concept vehicles such as the Track’ster and Cross G.”
The rear-wheel drive, 2+2 sports car, had a powerful stage presence. And also packs a healthy dose of 315 horsepower from a turbocharged, 4-cylinder powerplant.
The Korean carmaker mentions that there are no pending plans to bring this particular car to market, however, Kia has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to the concept that preceded them, and the GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future.
And if it’s the future we’re after, it looks good.
Moving from fantasy to fiction, we have the Honda Fit.
It’s a spectacular little car and has been a popular selling vehicle in Canada. And it’s all new for 2015.
Up front, the Fit sports a new grille and headlight design. Around back, there are rear reflectors and LED taillights run along the hatch with a chrome tailgate garnish and rear diffuser.
Furthermore, Honda keep’s their exclusive Magic Seat, which offer multiple configurable seating positions. Translation, the Fit provides an unrivaled 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row seats are folded flat.
It also gets a bump in horses. Included is an all-new direct-injected 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine producing 130 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s an increase of 13 horsepower and 8 lb.-ft. of torque in comparison to the outgoing engine.
The VW Golf R is no stranger to Canadians. It has been sold here in the Great White North for the last couple of years. But they’re kind of like the tooth fairy. You hear about them, but you rarely see them. Why? Because they were sold in limited quantities. Meaning only a few hundred were allocated for Canada.
But I’m hoping such is not the case with the upcoming 2015 Golf R. Making its debut at the show, you can liken it to a donut. A donut that is fat free, calorie free and has sprinkles on top. Yes, it’s just that delicious.
The all-wheel drive 5-door has plenty of appeal. But with the option of outfitting it with a 6-speed DSG with paddle shifters (it was previously only available with a 6-speed manual,) it might just reach out to a few more takers. That’s if we can get our hands on them. Oh, and there’s an allotment of 290 horsepower, too. Yum.
Speaking of cars with four cylinders and all-wheel drive, the Golf R has some competition lined up in the form of the Subaru WRX STI.
With a 305 horsepower horizontally-opposed turbocharged boxer engine, multi-differential controllable all-wheel-drive system, and a six-speed gearbox, those looking to take shortcuts off the beaten path can do it. And do it in style.
*The best and brightest from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, from American muscled classic like the Corvette and the Mustang to the newest from Toyota, Fiat, KIA, and Mini’s John Cooper Works…
Many singles I know decide to get something a little less “practical” in the grand scheme of things…
So, you’re not married. That’s okay!
You don’t have kids? No worries.
You pretty much have the pick of the litter when it comes to buying a car. Why?
Because you don’t necessarily have specific requirements that need to be met when selecting a vehicle. Meaning, you don’t need to consider having a large enough backseat to fit car seats, unless you want a big back seat for other reasons. Like, you have a dog that weighs as much as an adult. Or you don’t need four doors because you’re pretty much the only one going to be inside the cabin at any given time.
Unless your profession requires you to haul around equipment or gear, you don’t have to buy a crossover, minivan, sedan or SUV… if you don’t want to.
That said, many singles I know decide to get something a little less “practical” in the grand scheme of things. Less practicality is usually spelled with five letters: coupe.
So, to those individuals who are the alpha of their one-person wolf pack, here are a few coupes under $30K to consider.
Honda Accord Coupe: Base MSRP $26,400
I’m starting off with the Accord because it’s a cool car. The current generation has so much going for it and definitely has developed more personality in the redesign. You have the option of two engines: a more economical 2.4L 4-cylinder or a more powerful 3.5L V6. Either way, you can get them equipped with a 6-speed manual or a CVT transmission. Only the EX-L Navi trim with the V6 has the option of a 6-speed automatic transmission. No matter how you slice it, you’re getting a great car. Better yet, it has a decent cargo capacity of 379L so you could easily dump your hockey gear inside. The interior is spacious and comfortable, and heck, it looks good.
MINI Coupe/Roadster: Base MSRP $25,950/$28,900
With room for two, even the base model of MINI Coupe or Roadster is a hoot. Specs-wise, it has the least impressive engine of the lot (only putting out 121 horsepower,) but that can be overlooked because of via driving dynamics. It has one of the best manual gearboxes for a car of its size and has an abundance of pep.
They’re not cheap, though. So it has that working against it in some regards. And you could argue that a Mazda MX-5 is a better value (you won’t be wrong) but it’s still loads of fun.
Dodge Challenger: Base MSRP $26,995
If you’re driving a Dodge Challenger, you’re getting noticed. You don’t even need to have the grunt and roar of the SRT’s 6.4L V8 HEMI to turn heads. Inside and out, this two-door has style and power. The base SXT trim comes equipped with a 3.6L V6 and 305 horsepower.
Kia Forte Koup: Base MSRP $20,550
For just over $20K, the Kia Forte Koup is a solid value. And it’s not a bad looking car either. Inside, the interior is well finished and isn’t cheap.
Furthermore, you have many great standard amenities that come with the base model like 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, heated front seats, remote keyless entry, air conditioning and more.
VW GTI: Base MSRP $29,375
The 3-door VW GTI is one of my favourite cars. The front-wheel, German engineered bundle of excitement has poise and pizzazz, along with a fabulous interior and a tried and tested engine. What’s great about the GTI is that it works for all ages. You could be 16 and driving it, or 60, and you’d still look good. You wouldn’t look out of place and people would give you nods of approval. Granted, the current generation is on its way out and the seventh generation (2014 model year) is coming soon. So if you want a killer deal on a 2013, now’s about as good of a time as any.