MINI is about to make it big in the US – and Auto Express has the details.
According to our sources, bosses are set to announce that the hotly anticipated off-road evolution of the new MINI will be built in the States.
This is the brand’s first foray into US car production, but it could lead to sales doubling for the British legend. While the news is still top secret, it’s thought MINI will join BMW at its factory in Spartanburg, North Carolina, where the X5 SUV is built. Production of the macho MINI has been confirmed for late 2008, and it could be on sale in the UK the following year. The newcomer, due to be called the Monte, will use the MINI’s front-wheel-drive layout. To improve its off-road credentials, though, it will have a raised ride height and wider track.
These changes should enhance the car’s versatility and ride quality significantly. And by repositioning the suspension mounting points, there should be more room inside as well.
Power will come from a range of 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, including the 175bhp turbo unit from the Cooper S. BMW has hinted there could be a new 1.4-litre oil-burner, too. Buyers will get a choice of manual and automatic transmissions, while the Efficient Dynamics package seen elsewhere in the range will feature, to cut emissions and boost economy.
All this comes at a price, with the Monte set to cost £2,000 more than the Clubman. As a result, base models are likely to start from about £16,500, with flagships as much as £20,000.
While the news that the MINI is heading Stateside is a boost for US fans, it isn’t so great for the BMW Group Plant Oxford at Cowley, which would not be developed to build the third model if the plans go ahead.