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6 Years ago
News

jeep
mini
mini cooper
Long Term Update 3: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Associate online editor Benson Kong recently requisitioned the keys to the Grand Cherokee for a quick off-road adventure in the nearby Santa Ana Mountains, finding himself a trail off state route 74, better known to us locals as the Ortega Highway. The trail was rated according to The Internet and Kong generally agreed, though he said that the trip did have its moments. I'll let him describe it in his own words:

"What started as a decently sized road soon narrowed considerably. Ideal off-road vehicles are supposed to be short, stout, and not too wide -- the last characteristic being particularly useful when you realize that the passenger-side wheels are pretty close to a dropoff. The Grand...

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6 Years ago
News

nissan
nissan versa
seat
bmw 5
hyundai
First Drive: 2012 Nissan Versa Sedan
At 6 feet, 6 inches tall, my half-Norwegian, half-Swedish co-pilot is no small gentleman. At 175.4 inches long, 66.7 inches wide, and 59.6 inches tall, the 2012 Nissan Versa is a relatively small five-passenger sedan. Yet surprisingly, the two work well together. He fits inside the popular B-segment car and his neck isn't kinked at nearly 90 degrees. We're both quite comfortable in the new Nissan.

Comfort was one of four main areas Nissan engineers fast-tracked for improvement on the new Versa. Efficiency, style, and value were the other three as the Versa's engineers built an all-new car from the ground up.

 Producing a spacious cabin and significantly smoother ride that felt more like a...

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6 Years ago
News

aston martin
mini
mini cooper
mini cooper s
smart
First Drive: 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet (European Spec)
For Aston Martin to build a city car is quite a step. For Aston Martin to re-skin the Toyota iQ is a galactic leap. In Britain and the United States, the idea stirred up a storm on enthusiast forums. Calm down, everyone -- there's sense to the idea.

In Europe's city centers, congestion has a whole different meaning than in the U.S. It's not just traffic. The streets were laid down centuries before the automobile was invented. They're a narrow maze of tightly angled junctions, lined with obstructions, and awash with pedestrians. A standard delineated parking spot is about 185 inches long, but many unmarked curbside spaces are smaller. So across the Atlantic, owning a small car isn't just a money-saver....

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6 Years ago
News

mini
bmw
mini cooper
porsche
porsche 928
First Look: 2012 Mini Coupe
Not only has Mini's lineup grown since BMW relaunched the brand in 2001, but so have Minis themselves. Each new Mini introduced since then, from the second-generation Cooper to the Clubman and most recently the Countryman, grew progressively bigger. While the 2012 Mini Coupe is roughly the same size as the base Mini Cooper it's spawned from, it looks and feels smaller and nimbler.

 The Mini Coupe (first previewed in concept form at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show) is the first modern two-seat Mini and the first to use a three-box design -- engine compartment, passenger compartment and trunk. The design effectively is carried through and lends the Coupe a handsome look. The Mini Coupe features...

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6 Years ago
News

honda
bmw
mini
First Drive: 2012 Honda Civic
In 2010, Honda sold 260,218 eighth-generation Civics, or more units than BMW sold, well, all told (220,113). In fact, Civic sales were nearly as much as that of the complete BMW group (266,069), which includes Mini and Rolls-Royce. Suffice it to say, many an automaker would love to enjoy entire portfolio sales comparable to that of Honda's Civic.

 So you can imagine the challenges Honda faced when it came time to replace the extraordinarily successful Gen 8, which just happed to win Motor Trend's 2006 Car of the Year award. The ninth generation would have to take the nameplate to the next level, offering improvements in dynamic performance, fuel economy, interior volume, design, and safety....

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6 Years ago
News

mini
mini cooper
nissan
First Drive: 2011 MG6
The MG brand is tentatively - very tentatively - re-entering its "home" market by selling a new car in Britain. But that car is built, except for the very final assembly, in China by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), that nation's biggest automaker.

As such, SAIC's all-new MG6 probably represents the state of the art in terms of Chinese-controlled carmaking for the world stage.

 Western automakers, commence worrying. The MG6 is neatly styled, and more than sanitary to drive. And unlike some other recent Chinese forays into Western markets, SAIC is confident of a strong result when the MG6 formally meets the EuroNCAP crash-test barriers - the European equivalent of the NHTSA's...

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6 Years ago
News

mini
nissan
volkswagen
First Test: 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4
"Oh my god, is that for real? It's like a grown-up Big Wheel." "It's a Mini monster truck." The Mini Countryman elicits all sorts of responses from bystanders. So far, they're only positive, but at the same time you get the feeling no one takes the pint-sized crossover seriously. Other companies might cringe at the thought of their products being compared to toys, but Mini revels in it. A vehicle like the Countryman was never meant to be just another car; it's all fun all the time.

 Like other S model Minis, the Cooper S Countryman is powered by a 181-horspower 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4. Even with the added weight of All4 all-wheel-drive, the little crossover is still relatively quick. The...

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7 Years ago
News

fiat
fiat 500
smart
mini
mini cooper
First Test: 2012 Fiat 500
"Delightful." Thus spoke Kim Reynolds, our handling and ride quality guru, when I asked him how Fiat's ballsy little 500 was to drive around our patented figure eight. Mr. Reynolds' seal of approval is high praise indeed for the diminutive newcomer, as I've seen Kim yawning while climbing out of ultracars worth several hundred thousand dollars. No, really. So why the big love for such a tiny car? Well, in a teensy-weensy Italian nutshell, the 500 deserves it.

Technically speaking, the 500 fits into the A-segment, along with cars like the Smart ForTwo and the upcoming Toyota iQ. But the Fiat's much bigger than the Smart and close to within half a foot of a Mini Cooper in most dimensions, even...

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7 Years ago
News

hyundai
honda
mini
mini cooper
First Look: 2012 Hyundai Veloster
Before the Genesis Coupe, there was the Tiburon. Hyundai's former entry-level sport coupe didn't make a lasting impression here in the U.S., but the Korean automaker is ready to try again with its all-new 2012 Hyundai Veloster. Like the Tiburon was, the Veloster is front drive, compact and sportyish, but the new car features a few significant differences.

We've kept a diligent eye on the Veloster since it first appeared at the 2007 Los Angeles show, back when it was just a wide-eyed concept from a then-marginal brand not yet known for turning out compelling vehicles. A little more than three years later, with the automaker enjoying white-hot brand visibility and record sales here in the U.S.,...

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7 Years ago
News

mini
mini cooper
bmw
First Drive: 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman S ALL4
Two questions: First, why is Mini building a four-door crossover? Second, does the 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman S ALL4 drive like a Mini? While the questions aren't new (just ask Porsche), the answers are.

Our Countryman S test drive begins in Austin, Texas, billed as the live music capital of the world. Twenty minutes after touching down, we're gripping a chunky three-spoke wheel and hustling the Austrian-built, ultra-compact crossover on autobahn-smooth roads, surrounded by green, hilly pastures and 1000-pound purebred longhorns.

 Under the Countryman S' stubby hood lives the 181-horsepower, 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder found in the rest of the Mini lineup. Non-S models employ...

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