For the 2011 model year, Mini is introducing the new Countryman crossover to its diminutive lineup (both in quantity and in stature). Not wanting to be leave any out of the party, Mini will give updates its remaining three models--Cooper, Clubman, and Cooper convertible--exteriors, engine bays, and cabin controls and technology packages.
Starting in the cabin, the Mini's center stack will retain its familiarly weird configuration. But if you look closely, you'll notice that 2011 models' volume knob is located on the face of the stereo system. (Whoa!) One of the things that has always annoyed us about previous Mini vehicles is the oddball placement of the volume knob--which was halfway down the center stack, far away from the rest of the audio controls. Hopefully, this new configuration will put an end to our frustrations.
Mini's changes to the cars' exteriors are subtle. The company will give all models updated headlamps and side indicator lights, standard LED taillights, and a more pedestrian-friendly front bumper. Also, they will get new wheel designs and a handful of new paint colors also serve to differentiate the 2011 models.
In markets where diesel variants of Mini models are available (translated: not the U.S. market), an all-new 1.6-liter diesel engine will find its way under the hood of the hatchback and, for the first time, convertible models. This engine uses the same variable turbine geometry turbocharging and common rail direct injection technologies as BMW's diesel units and will be available in two tunes: the 90-horsepower One D and the 112-horsepower Cooper D.
We have something of a love/hate relationship with Mini vehicles. Our editors' almost universally love Mini's design, fit, and finish; and there's no denying their excellent handling. However, there are always tiny details that seem to annoy us to no end (see the aforementioned volume knob). So, will a handful of small changes add up to a huge difference for Mini? We won't know for sure until the 2011 Cooper, Clubman, and Cooper convertible models hit dealerships in September.