Much like the royal family, the Mini presents itself as British, but it's definitely German down deep.
There is a rumour that when BMW bought Mini more than ten years ago, it was a way for the luxury automaker to showcase it's new front-wheel drive technology, without hurting the BMW brand. After all, rear-wheel drive equals performance in many minds. BMW will neither confirm nor deny this rumour. The technology was both impressive and popular, and BMW had a hit on their hands with the new Mini.
Jump ahead a decade, and people are now willing to accept the idea of a BMW that is front-wheel drive. This means a further opportunity for the automaker, and the 2014 Mini's platform is being shared with the upcoming BMW 1 Series. Bringing the Mini brand closer to the BMW fold will only mean good things for Mini, as the car's execution and design moves closer to meeting BMW's uncompromising standards.
The 2014 Mini hatchback retains it's iconic looks, with some new features to differentiate it from previous models. It's had some subtle work done on it's headlights and grille, and giant tail lights affixed to it's rear. It's a little bigger than it's predecessor, as it seeks to gain more interior space. The 2014 Mini hatchback definitely earned itself more interior space, the trunk area has grown about a third, by 51 litres, bringing it up to 211 litres.
Also inside, materials and design have been upgraded, and the speedometer has finally made it's way to in front of the driver, rather than the centre of the dash, which has confused us for years. Replacing it on the centre stack is an 8.8 inch colour screen to manage the car's infotainment, comfort and communication systems.
The 2014 Mini hatchback will be offered with a choice of two engines, both of which are four-valve turbocharged Valvetronic direct injection; sorry, no diesel. One is a 136 hp 1.5-litre three-cylinder and the other is a 2.0-litre four cylinder that produces 192 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Not bad for a Mini! These engines are matched to six-speed transmissions, automatic with paddle shifters and manual options are available, and both come with a stop/start feature to reduce fuel consumption. Drivers can select from three driving modes, Mid, Green or Sport.
BMW has put a lot into the Mini's handling, unleashing a premium car at a Mini FWD price. They've also loaded it with stuff like a self-parking feature, and got rid of the electronic key fob that needs to be inserted into the dash (and lost between the seats).
The 2014 Mini hatch has definitely taken a leap forward. Improved performance, ride and overall quality complements it's increased interior space, and slightly improved fuel consumption. Look for it to hit showrooms this spring.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca