New Minis put in an appearance in New Zealand

Damien O’Carroll
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The next-generation Mini Cooper hatch and Countryman SUV made their surprise debut in New Zealand recently, at an event at Studio 230 in Auckland that revealed the pair in RHD pre-production form.

While the two display models have landed here just three months after their global reveal at the Munich motor show, Mini expects that the first customer Countryman models will arrive in New Zealand sometime in the first quarter of 2024, with the rest of the  line-up, including the Cooper hatch, to follow later in the year.

On display was a Cooper in its all-electric form (the Cooper will debut as an EV, with ICE variants to follow) and a petrol-powered Countryman.

Mini says that it will initially offer the Cooper hatch in two electric forms: E and SE, with the SE featuring a higher output and extended range compared to the  E. The company says that “Cooper” now refers to all  3-door and 5-door models as well as the convertible, with no relation to engine specification.

The Cooper E will get a single 135kW/290Nm electric motor and a 40.7 kWh battery with a range of 305km on the WLTP cycle, and will accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.

The Cooper SE also uses one motor, this time with 160kW and 330Nm of torque, but it gets a bigger 54.2kWh battery with significantly more range at 402km and a 0 to 100 km/h time of 6.7 seconds. Mini says both vehicles can charge 10 to 80 per cent in under 30 minutes.

The Countryman on display showed that it was significantly bigger than the current model, something proven by the tape measure: it is now 60mm taller and 130mm longer than its predecessor.

The Countryman will come in both electric and ICE forms, with the EVs landing first. Mini NZ has yet to confirm any petrol or diesel models for local sale, but petrol versions would seem likely. Not so likely for sale here would be the confirmed diesel variant, while Mini has dropped the PHEV option from the new line up altogether, preferring to concentrate on pure-electric models instead.

Like the Cooper, the Countryman will be offered in two electric forms initially, with the base-model Countryman E packing a single 150kW/250Nm electric motor and 462km WLTP range, while the all-wheel-drive Countryman SE ALL4 adds another electric motor to deliver 230kW and 494Nm of torque and a 433km  range on the WLTP test cycle.

While both cars on display were technically pre-production models, the materials and build quality were impressively high throughout, with a noticeable jump in quality over the existing models.

Extensive used of recycled textiles throughout the cabin bring an upmarket feel, while also allowing for much in the way of clever ambient backlighting to highlight the high-tech nature of the all-new Minis. This is driven home by the best use of Mini's gimmicky central circular screen so far.

Paying homage to the original Mini's central speedometer, the large circular touchscreen now houses the majority of infotainment information, with a small heads-up display behind the steering wheel being the only other information source present. And rather than being a small rectangular screen crammed awkwardly into a large circular bezel (like the current Minis), the entire screen is actually usable, and looks spectacular too.

The two new Minis adhere to the company's new "RE:think, RE:duce, RE:use and RE:cycle" philosophy that will see 99 per cent of all material waste generated during production recycled with certain components featuring a 40 per cent recycled aluminium mix.

The brand will also go leather-free and chrome-free with the introduction of the new model launches from 2024 onwards. Mini says its shift from leather to 100 per cent vegan interiors, along with the use of raw and recycled materials, will result in up to 98 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.


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