Let’s Get Small: New Mini Cooper Debuts in January

On Dec. 21, BMW and Mini announced that the second-generation Mini Cooper and Cooper S hardtops would make their official North American debut at the North American International Auto Show, to be held in Detroit in early January. In addition, the Mini Convertible Sidewalk will make its world debut at the autoshow.

We say this is an “official” announcement, but details of the new Minis have been available for awhile. The cars will in showrooms in February, but if you can’t wait until then, you can place your order for one now at the automaker’s website at www.miniusa.com.

Among the updates will be two new, more powerful aluminum-alloy four-cylinder engines, which should keep the Minis moving zippily along the highways of America. The Mini Cooper will be powered by a new 118-horsepower, 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, while under the hood of the Cooper S will be a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that will generate 172 horsepower, propelling the car from 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds. Top speed will be 139 miles per hour.

Mini notes that despite the more powerful engines, they will actually be more fuel efficient, with the Mini Cooper getting up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway with a manual transmission.

The new Minis have been completely redesigned from the ground up, according to the automaker, and are about 2 inches longer than their predecessors. In addition to new engines, the Minis will receive redesigned interiors. New options, including ambient interior illumination, which can be varied in color from warm orange to cool blue, depending on the driver’s preferences, will also be available.

The Convertible Sidewalk package will be offered as an add-on to either the Cooper or Cooper S packages. In addition to the drop-top itself, the Convertible Sidewalk package will include special light-alloy wheels, English leather sport seats, a Harmon/Kardon sound system, and special interior surfaces and graphics. It will be available in the spring of 2007 at a cost of $4,000.

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