Nov 18 - A new Mini car is unveiled in the UK 54 years after the first one rolled off the production lines. The model now accounts for one in six cars sold by BMW. Ivor Bennett asks why the Mini has become such an enduring model?
It's one of the most iconic cars in the world. And now it has a new look. British car maker Mini has unveiled its latest model - bigger, better, and more hi-tech. Communications director Graham Biggs. SOUNDBITE (English) GRAHAM BIGGS, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BMW GROUP UK, SAYING: "It's unmistakably a mini from the outside. But under the skin, there are huge changes, New engines, three cylinder and four cylinder engines, a brand new interior design, and a completely new electronic architecture. So it's a familiar looking Mini, still fantastic fun to drive, but it's all new. And very much updated for now." The Mini first came on the road in 1959, and it revolutionised the industry. Seen as the world's first premium small car, it combined luxury interiors with limited dimensions, proving an instant hit. But at 3.8 metres long, the new model is the biggest yet - and a full 80 centimetres longer than the original. So does it matter the Mini's no longer mini? Auto Express Magazine's Luke Madden. SOUNDBITE (English) LUKE MADDEN, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR, AUTO EXPRESS, SAYING: "It's still got the wheel in each corner stance, it's got short overhangs, it's got round headlights, it's got a similarly shaped grill. So it still is in essence a mini." It may be mini by name, but by nature, this car is big business. Sales topped 300-thousand last year, accounting for 1 in 6 of parent group BMW's total sales. The company now exports to 108 countries - the US its biggest market, China a fast-growing 4th. SOUNDBITE (English) LUKE MADDEN, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR, AUTO EXPRESS, SAYING: "Well it's been successful just because, first of all, it's cool. And people want cool cars. It's got an image thoughout the industry, through all age groups... the older generation remember the previous mini, and the younger generation, they like the way it drives, they like the way it looks, and they like the way they can make it their own." But looking cool doesn't come cheap. The new Mini will have a starting price of over 15-thousand pounds, coming onto the market next Spring.