Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman

Season 17 of Top Gear has finally arrived and as expected, there’s been a lot of buzz as to what the troika of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have in store for us. Now we’ve already seen the previews of Season 17, but now that the first episode has finally aired, we can take a look back at what transpired in those 60 minutes.

Certainly, there were plenty of things talked about on the first episode, not the least of which include a hulking piece of four-wheeled monstrosity from South Africa, a review of BMW ’s latest pride and joy, a race between a new rally car and a smoking hot Olympic gold medalist, and a certain American rock legend trading in his shock-rock world for the driver seat of a Kia Cee’d hatchback.

Highly entertaining as always, the 17th season of Top Gear is now here.

Check out a review of the first episode after the jump.

The first episode of Top Gear Season 17 is set to be aired on June 26 , but for all of those fans that cannot wait another moment to see the Top Gear UK trio at work, BBC has been kind enough to release a teaser trailer of what to expect.

The trailer will refuel your Top Gear obsession by showing clips of Jeremy Clarkson driving the McLaren MP4-12C , James May riding around in the Mini WRC racing car, and Richard Hammond cruising in the Dartz Prombron through city streets. A Porsche Boxster , a Citroën DS3 Racing , and an Abarth 500C will also be making their appearances, plus a short trip to Monte Carlo will help to wrap things up.

We may still have to wait 11 days for the full episode to grace our television screens, but this teaser trailer just cements the fact that Top Gear 17 is starting and will be better than ever.

The New York Auto Show was treated to quite a surprise when rock music legends KISS made a surprise appearance to officially introduce four MINI Countryman vehicles, each wearing one of the band member’s world-famous face paints.

Each of the cars were dressed up with their own unique paint finishes bearing the face paint of each of the four members of the rock band. While the cars aren’t going to be sold to the public, all four special edition Countrymans will be auctioned off during a special Father’s Day eBay charity auction to raise money for UNICEF and its attempts to assist the children of Japan. The auction is scheduled for May 29th, 2011, which, incidentally, is Father’s Day.

The tie-up between MINI and KISS is a joined effort in providing assistance to the people of Japan who were struck with a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami last month. "Our hearts go out to the people of Japan in this time of great tragedy. We wanted to help and also to provide a real way for the KISS Army to get involved," said Gene Simmons, the frontman of KISS.

"UNICEF raises money to help children who are still coping with the effects of these disasters, and also supports other very important emergency relief efforts around the world. Join the KISS Army in giving."

While the cars are set up to be auctioned off on Father’s Day, fans of the both MINI and KISS who won’t be able to buy the cars will get a chance to dress up their MINIs with KISS-inspired wraps, which MINI USA introduced on April 21, 2011. Just like the special edition cars themselves, all proceeds from the sales of these wraps will be given to UNICEF.

UPDATE 06/01/11: The four special edition MINI Countryman KISS Edition is now up on eBay and is currently being auctioned off. Here’s your chance to post your bids and if you want it bad enough, you can own any one of these four special edition MINIs. Keep the bids coming, people! It’s for a great cause!

Video and Press Release after the jump

With so many auto brands going the way of producing art cars over the years, it certainly doesn’t surprise us that somebody would do something with a MINI . So when the German automaker decided to commission renowned artist, Magda Sayegis, to put her talents to good use on a MINI Countryman , we weren’t exactly shocked.

As part of the company’s ‘Wanderlust’ campaign, MINI enlisted the services of Sayegis, a noted artist that became famous for wrapping public spaces around the world with custom yarn knitting. This time around, her subject isn’t a public park or the outside of a museum, but a live MINI Countryman.

Jim McDowell, Vice President MINI USA, said in a statement: "The MINI Countryman embodies the Wanderlust feeling like no other MINI model and the company is launching this interactive campaign to demonstrate how anyone, not just MINI Marketing, can take part in the fun and express what Wanderlust means to them."

Mayegis yarned up the Countryman pretty good at her Wanderlust-inspired event in Austin, Texas. After finishing up the final touches of the yarn-bombed Countryman, Sayegis and her friends celebrated the occasion with a picnic where the car was officially displayed for all the participants to see.

AC Schnitzer knows their way around a number of models in the BMW and Mini line-up, but when it comes to the new Mini Countryman , things are a bit different. The new Mini comes packing a much different body than that of the Cooper , leaving tuning firms with uncharted territory. AC Schnitzer is one of the first tuning firms to tackle this new ground, and with their colorful Mini background, the result should be nothing short of spectacular.

What we got, however, is some minor exterior and interior updates that barely change the look of the car at all. The exterior gets a new set of 18" wheels as standard or 19" wheels available upon request. The interior receives an aluminum pedal set and various gear knobs in leather or aluminum with a digital gear display. Yeah, that’s it.

AC Schnitzer did say that this was only phase one of the package, but we expected a little more out of them. Hopefully, the bulk of it will come in the engine updates in the works. The Countryman is currently powered by 122hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines, with the S model getting turbocharged to 184hp. AC Schnitzer has promised that these engines will get a power boost. Let’s just hope we are pleasantly surprised because, as the first tuning kit for the Countryman, this package kind of blows.

The fastest vehicles may belong to the likes of Porsche , Lamborghini , Bugatti , and so on, but that doesn’t mean that the not-so-fast vehicles out in the world can’t strap on their racing gear and hit the track. X-Raid Team has one of those less than speedy vehicles with the new MINI All4 Racing. This Countryman has its sights set on the 33rd Personal Dakar Argentina-Chile in January with the French rally crew of Guerlain Chicherit and co-driver Michel Périn at the wheel for the race. The event starts in Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day and finishes in the Argentine capital on Sunday, January 16th, 2011. X-Raid have only begun the build for the All4 Racing just last month so it will leave minimal time for the completion and testing to be completed before that time.

The new Mini All4 Racing will replace the current BMW X3 CC, but will be powered by the BMW’s variable twin-turbo diesel engine that will deliver 315 HP and 710Nm of torque.

"This is a major development in cross-country rallying and something of which we are very excited," admitted Quandt. "There has been a very short time between the decision to go ahead and the roll out for the next Dakar, but we are confident that the new Mini All4 Racing will be competitive out of the box. Compared to the BMW BMW X3CC, the MINI will be characterized by improved handling as the overall length is shorter and it is lower. We have also been able to improve on many other smaller details, such as the relocation of smaller components to lower the center of gravity."

UPDATE 12/23/10: The MINI Dakar All4 is scheduled to make its dirt-kicking debut at the Rally Dakar in Argentina on the first day of 2011 so you can expect that everybody involved in the team is working extra hard fine-tuning the rally car’s few remaining kinks in time for its debut in a couple of weeks. In this video, the MINI Dakar All4 undergoes some last-minute test runs before making its eagerly anticipated debut. From what we saw, it looks like the vehicle is just about ready to get its tires dirty in Argentina. Check it out after the jump.

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We finally have a price for the 2011 Mini Countryman ; $22,350. Mini USA headman Jim McDowell just announced that figure at the North American launch in Austin Texas.

We have had a chance to see the Mini Countryman up close and it looks better than some might think. This vehicle will split opinions so not everybody is going to like it, but we think it’s the perfect utility Mini.

A Mini Countryman with some good options on it will run you around $30,000, that’s more than the Nissan Juke , Nissan Rogue and the Volkswagen Tiguan . On the road, the Countryman will be able to manage 35 miles per gallon with a manual transmission on the Cooper model, 32 mpg for the Cooper S, and 31 mpg for the All4 Cooper S Countryman.

Buyers needing extra space, but still wanting to carry a Mini badge should love this thing. However, diehard Mini lovers might find it to be sacrilegious. We’ll just have to wait and see.

MINI’s entry to the World Rally Championships certainly caught a lot of people by surprise, not because the brand can’t hack it in rally competitions, but because, well, they’re MINI.

It’s hard to take a company seriously, especially one that prides itself on producing some of the weirdest and most eccentric marketing campaigns of any automaker on the planet.

The thing with this WRC entry, however, is that the company is dead serious on it and if you’re one of the cynical types, this video of the company’s Countryman WRC prototype should quell all of your doubts.

The video, which took place at Ponte de Lima in Portugal, shows the WRC Countryman doing some serious rally testing, and with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo-charged engine courtesy of BMW Motorsport, the Countyman WRC prototype is looking mighty impressive in its test run.

We don’t know how that’s going to translate in an actual competitive race, but the car looks to be in good shape, and if they give more time on their testing and development, then MINI could become a player in the WRC when it starts its run in 2012.

Source: You Tube

The Mini Countryman is quite the popular vehicle these days as Mini is in the middle of their marketing campaign for the crossover. So far, their marketing has consisted of the usual quirky commercials that only Mini can dole out, and well, more of thesame type of commercials. And if those aren’t enough to peak the interest of consumers everywhere, Mini will also be unveiling a new concept in London on September 23rd. This new concept will be presented by BMW BMW ’s Head of Design, Adrian van Hooydonk, just one week before the Paris Motor Show. It will be another version of the current Countryman : a JCW version or a two-door Countryman.

Mini UK posted a teaser image of the future concept on their Facebook page, only to grab the attention of the press. The image was quickly removed and no details were given for the concept. The information that was given, however, is quite promising for those readers living out in the UK. Mini UK is offering them a chance to see the unveiling in person. All they have to do is get on Mini UK’s Facebook page and enter for a chance to win. The subject line needs to read ’MINI Design Concept Event’, and entries must be received by Monday, September 13th. So, if you live in the UK - no entries from other countries will be accepted - then get on Facebook and sign up!

We haven’t heard from MINI in quite some time so forgive us for being a little worried. As the undisputed kings of unconventional marketing, MINI has a special place in our hearts for being, well, a little on the eccentric side.

And just when we were starting to get worried, MINI jumps right on back with a new out-of-the-box commercial just like old times.

In their new 60-second ad, we see the MINI Countryman – actually, a lot of it – running roughshod on a quaint little town, multiplying to the hundreds like ants chasing a delectable sweet. Of course, a real Countryman isn’t capable of the multiplying act – that’s some supposedly new CGI trick at work – and it surely can’t fly from a cliff and down into a dock and make it in one piece.

But in the fantastical world of MINI, anything is possible. And if these guys can think of zany commercials like this, who are we to argue with that.

Source: MINI

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