MINI is making a comeback on the international rally circuit. From 2011, the brand will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and will go on to contest the entire season from 2012 onwards. This involvement is planned for several years.
The car charged with this task is the MINI Countryman WRC, which is being developed by Prodrive, in close cooperation with MINI, and is based on the production model. At the heart of the racing car is a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport.
Nothing MINIMUM about this car!
A MINI Cooper S at the RAC Rally in 1966
“This is a very exciting new motorsport programme,” said Prodrive Chairman, David Richards. “During the 1960s MINI captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8 powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4000km Monte Carlo rally. I believe our new MINI will become a firm favourite of the latest generation of rally fans, just as it is adored by its millions of owners across the world.
“We already have a significant number of confirmed customer orders for the new MINI rally car with the first deliveries scheduled for the start of the 2011 season.” Prodrive has been working on developing the MINI Countryman WRC since early 2009. The company was formed in 1984 by Richards, who won the World Rally Championship as co-driver to Ari Vatanen (FI) three years earlier.
Built to be loved
From 2011, over 40 years down the line, the MINI Countryman WRC will be charged with adding further chapters to this success story. It bridges the gap between the classic MINI concept and a contemporary Sports Activity Vehicle. The brand’s first model to feature four doors and a wide-opening tailgate, it offers more space – which can be used in a wide variety of ways – to go with its raised seating position and optimised ride comfort.
Plus, the “go-kart” feeling for which MINI is a byword has been preserved and takes on a new dimension with the optional MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. The MINI Countryman expresses the defining virtues of the brand in terms of design, premium quality, handling, efficiency and the scope for customisation – and does so in an absorbingly individual way.
The MINI Countryman
The next step down from the racing version is the MINI Cooper S Countryman. With its 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection now complemented by fully variable valve management. The engine generates 135 kW and allows the MINI Cooper S Countryman to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds.
Furthermore, the MINIMALISM concept sees wide-ranging technology designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions – such as Brake Energy Regeneration, the Auto Start/Stop function, Shift Point Display and the need-based operation of ancillary components – fitted as standard and in model-specific combinations.
The MINI Cooper S Countryman and MINI Cooper D Countryman can be ordered as an option with MINI ALL4 permanent all-wheel drive. In normal driving conditions up to 50 per cent of the drive is sent to the rear wheels, in extreme situations as much as 100 per cent. The result is a new, traction-led expression of the agile handling for which MINI is famed.
The Mini Countryman is due in SA around September 2010.