Mini:

2014 MINI Countryman Wins AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award

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The 2014 MINI Countryman is the highest scoring Compact Crossover SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. Even though this was a new category for MINI, the Countryman designers clearly understood who the target buyer was and developed a vehicle that meets their requirements. The Countryman beat out a very competitive group of compact crossover SUV’s such as the Subaru XV Crosstrek, Volkswagen Tiguan, Hyundai Tucson, Buick Encore, and the Kia Sportage.

2014 MINI Countryman owners are pleased with the vehicle and did not want many changes. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle survey, the Countryman led in four categories and was within three percentage points of four more.

The top five highest ratings by 2014 MINI Countryman owners are: same exterior size, same exterior styling, same interior lighting, same wheels, and same ride/handling as now.

No vehicle is perfect. Countryman owners would like several things changed. They would like a more advanced information and entertainment system, more power and acceleration, more interior storage, and more cargo space.

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MINI – Ideal Popular Brand in AutoPacific Research

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) for Popular Brands recognizes the brand whose vehicles best hits the targets its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

For 2012, MINI achieves the top ratings from its owners outpointing second place Popular Brand GMC by 31 rating points.  Owners of the MINI Cooper give the cheeky Premium Compact Car a dominating win in its category over the Subaru Impreza WRX.  The all new MINI Countryman outpoints second place Kia Sportage by 78 rating points.  MINI’s bold head-turning styling, combined with premium design cues and efficient, though small, packages yield an impressive score in AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award research.


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MINI Cooper – AutoPacific’s Most Ideal 2012 Premium Compact Car

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

MINI Dominates Subaru Impreza WRX for IVA Win: The 2012 MINI Cooper comes closest to the ideal of any Premium Compact Car.  The MINI dominates the second place Subaru Impreza WRX by 62 rating points to win its class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of MINI owners rate exterior size, interior lighting, exterior styling and ride and handling ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of MINI owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  wheels, driver’s seat comfort, power and acceleration, ease of getting in and out and safety features.

A Few Shortfalls – Most are Related to Size and Style, but Infotainment can be Improved. MINI owners chose one of the smallest cars on the market when selecting their car, but 30% want more cargo space and 26% want more passenger roominess.  About 33% want more interior storage compartments.  About 28% want better driver’s seat visibility than now.  About 28% of MINI owner want more infotainment technology in their car.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/consumer-s-ideal-cars-revealed-in-2012-iva-awards-112116/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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MINI Countryman – Most Ideal Compact Crossover SUV

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

MINI Countryman Dominates Kia Sportage for IVA Win: The 2012 MINI Countryman comes closest to the ideal of any Compact Crossover SUV.  The Countryman edges out the second place Kia Sportage by 78 rating points to win in its class.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Countryman owners rate its exterior size, interior lighting, passenger roominess, exterior styling, wheels, driver’s seat comfort, ease of getting in and out and safety features ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Countryman owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  ride and handling and tires.

A Few Shortfalls – Some Basic: Many of the Countryman’s shortfalls are related to package and style.  About 37% of Countryman owners want more interior storage compartments.  About 31% of Countryman owners want better driver’s seat visibility.  About 30% want more cargo space.  About 29% want more infotainment technology.  About 25% want more power and acceleration but only 1% would trade off power and acceleration for better fuel economy.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2012 FIAT 500 Sport: No Premium Here for Italian Style

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Of all the vehicles I have tried out over the past two months since joining the VehicleVoice staff, the 2012 FIAT 500 Sport was by far the biggest attention grabber. Even my neighbor, whom I have never heard a word from in over two years, came up to me to inquire about my latest ride. His final words to me: “You’re gonna have a hard time picking up girls with this car.”

Its diminutive size may give the 500 a somewhat feminine gait, but the car no doubt draws looks wherever it goes.  Regardless of the image the FIAT 500 may have portrayed, I was a bit amused by all the stares I got from zipping around town in this car.

Inspired by the original FIAT 500 minicar of 1957, the new 500 pays stylistic homage to that car but takes its soul into the 21st century.  It is certainly one of  the smallest cars for sale in the U.S., which could end up being a challenge for the car…or a unique differentiator.


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2009 MINI Cooper Wins AutoPacific 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award

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MINICooper_IVA.jpg“The MINI Cooper wins AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award for the Image Compact Car class. An Image Compact Car isn’t about pure functionality, but owners of the new MINI clearly value the design excellence of the car,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc. “Mini provides the cute head-turning styling, crisp handling and fun-to-drive power that its owners value highly. Mini clearly understood what their owners wanted when they designed the new Cooper.” Areas in which the MINI Cooper led the segment include:
* Exterior Styling
* Handling
* Power and Acceleration
* Safety Features


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New York Auto Show 2008 – MINI JCW Brings History Up to Date

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The next time someone calls my Cooper S “cute” I think I’ll commit a felony. While I understand the sentiment, it misses most of what a MINI is.
At the New York Auto Show Jim McDowell, Vice President – Marketing, MINI USA introduced the John Cooper Works MINI to North America with a reminder that MINI has racing in it’s blood, including Monte Carlo Rally wins in 1964, 1965, 1967. John Cooper has been synonymous with the high-performance MINIs for forty years. Earlier this year, MINI acquired John Cooper Works JCW as a sub brand of MINI.


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Clubman: Super-Sized MINI

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Continuing its tongue-in-cheek marketing party MINI USA unveiled the 2008 MINI Clubman at the Los Angeles Auto Show. In true self-deprecating MINI style, the diminutive wagon backed onto the stage, showing off its rear barn doors to the enthusiastic press. Vice President of MINI James O’Donnell led the tour of MINI’s latest model. (Look for VehicleVoice’s video podcast of our personal interview with James McDowell.)


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MINI Clubman adds Doors, Tech, Green

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The newly announced MINI Clubman is more than an extension (literally) of the popular MINI Cooper REV 2. First presented to the public at Frankfurt nearly two years ago (as the Shooting Brake Concept), the Clubman incorporates a number of unique and interesting capabilities that may set it apart from the average vehicle in its class.

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Overall, the vehicle is the same up front as the basic MINI hatch and remains so to the B-pillar. The large, bug-like headlights, hexagonal radiator grill, and hood design clue you in to the vehicle. From the B-pillar back, things change…
The Clubman’s body is now 9.45 inches longer than the standard MINI Cooper. The wheelbase is 3.15 inches longer. Color choices of the C-Pillar include silver, or black. The rest of the key data are very similar to that found on the standard MINI, except for some really neat new features, including:


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Rumor of the Week – BMW Considering Volvo Take-Over From Ford!

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There have been rumors circulating recently about BMW buying Volvo Cars from Ford. Ford Motor Company stated on May 29, 2007 it is not in discussions with BMW or any other company regarding the sale of Volvo Cars.

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But sometimes where there is smoke, there is fire. This rumor has been circulating for a few weeks now. The rumor goes like this… BMW has been conducting due diligence about the possibility of acquiring another brand. Volvo Cars and Alfa Romeo have both been included in the rumor, but Volvo appears to be the strongest candidate.
Why Would BMW Need a Second Car Company?
From 1994 through 2000 BMW owned Rover – including Rover, MG, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mini, Land Rover and the defunct names Austin, Morris, Riley, Triumph, Wolesley. Whoa, what a lineup!? BMW practically owned the British motor industry with the exception of Jaguar. Termed “The English Patient”, Rover and BMW never gelled. In 2000, BMW sold Rover Cars (MG Rover) to Phoenix Holding Group for £10. They sold Land Rover to Ford for a hefty chunk of change. They got snookered out of the Bentley name and somehow Volkswagen ended up with it. They kept Mini and have made it a great success. They kept Rolls Royce and are presently building modest numbers in Goodwood in sourthern England.
But, BMW needs additional volumes to help its economies of scale. A second company would help BMW in negotiations with components suppliers. Volvo has the heft to help handsomely.
BMW Fiercely Proud of its Independence
BMW is advertising the advantages of its independence. They look down their nose at Lexus – part of Toyota, Infiniti – part of Nissan, Acura – part of Honda, Audi – part of Volkswagen, Mercedes – part of DaimlerChrysler. So, the idea of BMW acquiring some other premium brand has to be considered from the position of strength.
European media reports have speculated that BMW wants to expand its product portfolio, and would like to add a premium brand with front-wheel-drive models to help spread out development costs for its Mini range. (BMW has been spreading some costs already co-developing the new Mini engine with Peugeot).
Volvo could be a good candidate to fill that objective. One of the reasons Ford acquired Volvo was because of its excellent front-wheel-drive large car platform that underpins the S80, XC90, S60, V70, XC70. Ford uses this platform for its Taurus (Five Hundred), Sable (Montego) and Taurus X (Freestyle) vehicle lines. The lower Volvo models have platforms shared between Ford, Mazda and Volvo. How a BMW acquisition of Volvo could untie these relationships must be a central part of any acquisition strategy. (Remember, BMW V8s powered the Range Rover until the 2006 model year – a hang over from BMW’s ownership).

Volvo Part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group

Ford acquired Volvo in 1999 for $6.5 billion and made it a cornerstone of its Premier Automotive Group which also includes Jaguar and Land Rover (purchased for $2.7 billion in 2000). Ford has sold the fourth PAG brand – Aston Martin – to investors for slightly less than $1 billion. PAG lost $327 million in 2006.
Reports say that Merrill Lynch estimates Ford could raise over $9 billion by selling the remaining PAG brands.
Nobody’s admitting anything yet, but lets see if the denials hold up over time.


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