Since BMW launched the Mini Cooper in the U.S. back in 2002, over 550,000 various models of the car have been sold, spanning two generations. Now Mini Cooper has unveiled its latest, redesigned 3rd-generation vehicle, just ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens on November 22 at the LA Convention Center.
One of the biggest modifications of the 2015 Mini is the base model’s three-cylinder, direct-injected 1.5-liter engine, which produces 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Mini Cooper joins the ranks of a select group of automakers that offer 3-cylinder cars in North America – Ford Motor Company has a 1.0-liter turbocharged engine set for its Fiesta sub-compact, and the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage will incorporate a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine in all models.
Three-cylinder cars are already popular overseas, and Mini Cooper is curious to how they’ll sell in the U.S. Dave Sullivan, an analyst at AutoPacific, said, “They’re really going to try to test waters here that vehicle. Marketing a fun-to-drive car with a 3-cylinder engine will be a challenge here. A lot will depend a lot on how the engine sounds, as with the Mirage or the Ford Ecoboost.”
When the Mini Cooper first arrived in North America, gas was roughly $1.30 a gallon, and driving a huge SUV wasn’t so costly. Jim McDowell, Mini’s North American vice president, noted, “A 12-foot car was a really hard sell in the U.S. We didn’t have much in the way of competition, except cars that were vastly larger.”
The November 8th world debut of the new models is significant, in that it coincides with the birthday of Sir Alec Issigonis, the creator of the original Mini. The car was commissioned after the 1956 Suez Crisis, and the subsequent fuel shortage experienced in the UK. The front wheel drive Mini had excellent fuel economy, and boosted slumping auto sales at the time of its inception.
Here’s a clip of some classic, if not tiny, Mini Cooper action:
In related news, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C7 was recently named “Automobile of the Year” by Automobile Magazine.
Image via YouTube.