The MINI lineup is due for an overhaul and that is exactly what the premium compact brand has in store for its 2011 lineup. The company is giving its coupe, convertible and wagon offerings not only a cosmetic refresh but also introducing a number of different features inside and out. Furthermore, every vehicle produced by MINI will have access to a new range of engines that promise to improve on horsepower without sacrificing the efficiency that MINI owners have come to expect.
For fans of the brand, spotting the 2011 MINI models (which are slated to arrive in the United States this coming September) means keeping an eye out for detail. Most apparent is the new front bumper and grille arrangement that has been retooled to not only better meet pedestrian safety standards but also give the vehicle a sportier look. This is amplified when examining the new 2011 MINI Cooper S and MINI Cooper John Cooper Works models, which feature more aggressive air ducts than the entry-level editions of the car. Out back, new LED taillights and brake lights add an up-market touch to the compact vehicle, not only making a noticeable difference in brightness compared to the older model but also lighting up fractionally faster in order to provide an additional degree of warning to motorists following along behind. Further lighting upgrades consist of available adaptive HID headlights.
MINI has rounded out the changes made to the appearance of its lineup by offering a new set of exterior 'design worlds' that are meant to provide a fresh range of roof, wheel and paint color combinations. Falling under 'Rally,' 'Classic' and 'Scene' designations, these packages have been put together by MINI designers and tie-in with specific interior trim choices and colors. For those who prefer to personalize their vehicles, MINI allows for each design world to serve as a basis upon which additional options can be added or subtracted at the whim of the buyer. Most of the features available inside the refreshed MINIs will be familiar to those who have been inside a MINI Cooper or MINI Clubman before, with the exception of the new multimedia and navigation systems now on offer. The former integrates an auxiliary input suitable for lining in an MP3 player, and when combined with navigation it also offers a new high resolution display that can be used to view video files sourced from an iPod. Bluetooth and USB compatibility are also available.
All base editions of the 2011 MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper Convertible and MINI Cooper Clubman will come with a revised 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that has been rated at 121 horsepower - a three horsepower upgrade over the 2010 model year. Mileage is expected to remain in the 28-mpg city and 37-mpg highway range currently found on the 2010 MINI Cooper. Cooper S version of the MINI also see a power bump, with a turbocharger helping to produce 181 horsepower (versus 172 for 2010) from the 1.6-liter unit.
MINI is in an interesting position as a company whose retro-inspired designs do not allow for radical retooling without risking a dilution of what the brand represents to its very loyal customer base. That the styling changes made to the 2011 MINI lineup are evolutionary in nature is not surprising, but in general the automaker has done well curating its flock of rapid fans while maintaining the sleek looks that have made its vehicles so popular amongst entry-level buyers. Combined with the latest engine updates, the 2011 MINI Cooper, Clubman and Cooper S appear poised to retain their positions as sought-after compact commodities.