MINI has released pricing for its 2011 lineup, including the initial pricing for the all-new 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman crossover. The premium compact automaker has elected to introduce small increases across the board for each of its existing models, riding on a wave of popularity that has seen the brand weather the current recession quite well despite the falling sales of some of its competitors. While the price increases are not enormous - each bump in MSRP falls in the $600 to $750 range - their effect stretches beyond mere numbers for the BMW-owned subsidiary and points to the philosophy now guiding the MINI brand.
Perhaps most important is the fact that buyers purchasing a base 2011 MINI Cooper hardtop coupe buyers must now shell out $20,100. The MINI Cooper has finally crested the $20,000 barrier, and after starting at an MSRP of $19,500 for 2010 this pushes the pint-sized compact car into another universe for cost-conscious new car shoppers. Driving home in the 2011 MINI Cooper Clubman wagon demands a payment of $21,800, while the 2011 MINI Cooper convertible checks in with an MSRP of $25,550.
MINI also makes high performance S editions of each of these vehicles available for an additional charge, introducing sport-spec suspensions and more powerful engines to entice buyers to part with additional hard-earned dollars. The price of admission to the MINI Cooper S experience is a $3,000 to $3,600 premium for those interested in the 2011 MINI Cooper S convertible (MSRP $28,550) and the 2011 MINI Cooper S hardtop (MSRP $23,700). The MINI Cooper S Clubman extracts an extra $100, costing more than $3,700 over the base MINI Cooper Clubman (MSRP $25,550).
The 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman offers the greatest range of potential pricing thanks to the availability of both an S edition and an all-wheel drive configuration. According to Inside Line, the base 2011 MINI Cooper Countryman MSRP is $22,350, which puts the crossover just above the entry-level Clubman. Upgrading to the 2011 MINI Cooper S Countryman brings with it a new price tag of $25,950, while the top of the line MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 (featuring all-wheel drive) boasts an MSRP of $27,650.
The decision to push the MINI brand further up-market is evident not just from the lack of a sub-$20k model in the 2011 lineup, but also by taking a look at the options and packages available on most MINI vehicles. For S models in particular, it is not difficult to add items such as navigation, a Premium package bundling together a sunroof, automatic climate control and an upgraded stereo system, or an automatic transmission and eventually arrive at a $30,000 sticker price. This is rarefied air for any compact car, even one backed by MINI's cachet, and at this price point potentials buyers could begin to cross-shop the vehicle against some more competitive luxury or sporty options from a wide variety of automakers.
MINI has managed to find its niche and dominate it for the past decade, taking on all premium compact car comers and emerging the victor at the end of each model year in terms of sales and profits. This new trend of moving prices on up into territory staked out by well-established brands could result in a wake-up call for the car company that might convince the powers that be to once again focus on the entry-level premium segment that has served the company so well for so long.