Sub Model: clubman
Exterior Color: Yellow
Model: Classic Mini
Interior Color: Black
Number of Cylinders: 4
Drive Type: RWD
Berwick, Maine, United States
Aside from the general lack of snow in the Midwest earlier this year that hampered our ability to properly play with our Blizzak-equipped Mini Contryman long-term test vehicle, the biggest problem we had with this crossover during the year we spent with it was the transmission. On four different monthly updates (September, October, November and June), all in the hands of different Autoblog editors, the Countryman's clutch was called out for being too finicky, leading to many stall outs. Apparently, we weren't alone in our assessment of the Countryman's clutch woes.
According to MotoringFile, Mini has updated the Countryman with a different clutch material and improved software. This much-needed change is being implemented starting this month, but Mini hasn't said what it is doing about existing 2011 and 2012 Countryman models that are afflicted with this problem.
Head over to MotoringFile to see the full official statement from Mini USA on this issue.
UPDATE: Information on US availability, specification and nomenclature added to the updated text below.
Few automakers have managed to spin off as many variants of essentially one vehicle as Mini has. The second generation produced even more versions than the first, and now that the third generation is upon us, the process is starting all over again. The jury may still be out on whether parent company BMW will roll out as many body-styles of this latest Mini as it did with the last, but here's our first indication.
Following the introduction of the new three-door Mini hatchback at the LA Auto Show, the Anglo-Saxon marque has introduced a new five-door model. Or four-door, depending on which Mini office you're speaking to: while this new model - an addition to the lineup and not a direct replacement for anything previously offered - is called the Mini 5 door by the factory, here in the US it's called the Mini Hardtop 4 door. Whatever you call it, though, this new Mini is essentially the same as the three-door model (or two-door model with a tailgate), only with - you guessed it - two extra doors. The new Clubman will be a separate model altogether.
Mini sold 301,526 cars in 2012; BMW sold 1.54 million of its own models. According to a piece in Autocar, analysts say the coming UKL1 platform that will form the skeleton of the third-generation Mini Cooper and coming front-wheel drive BMW 1 Series could be responsible for "more than 900,000 cars per year" all by itself.
That sale fire is fueled by the UKL1 wearing up to twenty-three bodies in total between the two brands, 11 for Mini and 12 for BMW, rendering hatchbacks, sedans, coupes, convertibles, wagons, crossovers and people-haulers from about 12.5 feet to 14.5 feet. In April the VP of Mini USA said we might find some current models don't make it to a next generation, but a graphic accompanying the Autocar story has them all there. If it's correct, then those 23 models will only base model lines and don't account for different engines and four-wheel-drive options for each model.
The big changes that would perhaps mean big sales for the Mini line are a five-door hatch with two smaller rear doors for children, the sedan talked about last year for Asian markets and an MPV perhaps wearing the "Traveler" name that could send the Countryman in a more SUV-like direction.