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Auto blogWed, 03 Sep 2014 17:00:00 EST
Mini is continuing to update its models onto its latest UKL front-wheel-drive platform that it shares with parent BMW. Here, our spies caught an early glimpse of the next-gen Countryman testing on the new chassis.
Like the rest of the updated Mini lineup, the latest Countryman doesn't exactly show a huge shift in styling from the current version. The front end appears to be slightly more blunt, and the headlights have a redesigned shape. However, behind the A-pillar the differences seem to be pretty subtle. At the rear, the new Countryman also looks to adopt the brand's rounded rectangle taillights protruding into the hatch like on the standard Cooper Hardtop range. While not shown here, our spies claim that Mini is also aiming for a roomier interior for the upcoming crossover so that it can be more competitive in its class.
At least for now, the Countryman is going to be the largest vehicle in the Mini range, according to an earlier statement from chief designer Anders Warming. The CUV is rumored to debut around 2016 with some assembly possibly done at Mini's plant in the Netherlands. Until then, have a look at these spy shots and tell us what you think.
With the next-gen Mini Cooper hardtop set for its big debut next week at the LA Auto Show, we're getting a good look at what will be coming next for the BMW brand. Mini will follow up the introduction of the Mini Cooper with the new convertible model, but our spy shooters have proof that a plus-sized model (rumored to be called Traveller or Spacebox) is coming along quite well.
There still isn't much information about the Traveller (shown above), which will be longer and wider than the Countryman, but we can tell that it takes dimensional cues from both the Countryman and Clubman to maximize passenger and cargo space. The face of this new model will definitely be closer to the 2015 Cooper, and it will have a split rear door setup like the Clubman. Like the more recent Countryman and Paceman designs, though, the Traveller will have horizontally positioned taillights instead of the Cooper's vertical lights. We have no indication as to when we'll be seeing the Traveller in production form, but this prototype seems to be in the final stages of development.
As for the Cooper, we've already spied the hardtop completely uncovered, and just recently we spotted the sportier Cooper S Convertible being transported on a flatbed. The dual center-outlet exhaust is the key tell that model was the S, which likely means that the droptop spotted here the base model.
BMW is planning a fairly extensive overhaul in a bid to recoup some its annual costs, with CEO Norbert Reithofer (pictured above) aiming to save three to four billion euro ($4 to $5.4 billion) per year to help keep the company's profit margins between eight and 10 percent, while also maintaining investments in production expansion and new tech. BMW's profit margins sat at 9.4 percent in 2013.
According to Automotive News Europe, Reithofer is none too pleased about costs at Mini and on the 1 Series, although neither AN nor its source story, from Germany's Manager Magazin, elaborate on what steps could be taken to improve losses on either project. That makes it hard to figure out just where the fat will be trimmed from.
What may happen, though, is that BMW attempts to trim 100 million euros ($135 million) from its German labor costs each year; a solution hinted at a few weeks ago by Germany newspaper Muenchner Merkur. While a dramatic cost reduction, 100 million euros still doesn't begin to even approach the savings envisioned by Reithofer.