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Discussion Starter #1
I spoke with one of the MINI people at the Chicago Auto Show, and I got some new news, for what it's worth:

1. MINI will send 15 factory spec'ed Coopers for customer delivery to at least the dealerships opening on time in March, 2002. That includes Patrick MINI in Illinois, for example. After that initial allotment, customer spec'ed Coopers should start in short order.

2. "June" should see the arrival of the first 15 Cooper S factory spec'ed cars at each dealership, again followed by the customer specified cars.

3. These initial allotments are evidently in addition to the dealer demo units.

4. The 16 inch wheels on the Cooper can be specified with either all-season or performance tires.

5. There's not supposed to be any holdup caused by "missing" options. The MINI representative thought they'd all be ready from the factory.
 

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Loves MINI2
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I don't know about those "MINI people" at the Auto Show's because the girl I was talking to said that BMW had nothing to do with the MINI. I didn't feel like getting into an argument so I just left it at that and said "buh bye".
 

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I overheard a lot of people asking the same question at the Chicago Auto Show in various forms: "Is MINI a new automobile company?" for example. The company line seemed to be, "MINI is now part of the BMW Group of companies."

That's only if pressed, though. The one word answer is "No," of course, followed by something about the Rover/Austin heritage.

From the consumer's point of view in the U.S., though, MINI really isn't BMW, except perhaps for the odd coincidence that many of the MINI showrooms are located alongside BMW showrooms. You can't get a MINI serviced at a BMW dealership, for example.

MINI's exhibit area at the Chicago Auto Show is not right next to BMW's, unlike some of the other automaker brands. GM, for example, brought SAAB a lot closer into the "family" exhibit area than I've ever seen before.
 

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While attending the Chicago Auto Show I asked about the Xenon headlight problem and was told that there was no problem that they knew of and cars equipped with this option would not be held up for release in the USA. Three of the MINI specialist I talked to had actually driven the Cooper S last month in South Carolina (that's were the BMW factory is where they build the X5) and all stated that there was a big difference between the Cooper and the Cooper S in the handling department (all said that if they had a choice the Cooper S would surely be the car they would buy). It also looks as if near the end of the year one or two new colors will become available (which colors they're not sure).

All in all, I was very impressed with the car (I'm 6'1 and could fit easily in the front seat and could actually sit in the back seat but would not like to for an extended period). A guy that was 6'6 actually got into the driver's seat with no problem when he adjusted the seat all the way back. The car actually looked alot wider than I remembered also (I saw my first MINI at the Paris Auto Show).;)
 

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The official responses from MINI personnel about questions like "is MINI a new company" and "is it from BMW" are intersting. Clearly they are trying quite hard to allow MINI to have it's own identity, not just to be perceived as the "baby BMW" (which is fine with me as I happen to be into the MINI because I'm a fan of little British cars, not BMWs. Of course someone who comes to the table from a BMW fan perspective may have a different opinion about the efforts to differentiate MINI from BMW ;)).

Reminds me somewhat of Saturn. Although Saturn has now been more or less totally assimilated into the GM mainstream, when they first came out, GM was very careful not to identify them as GM vehicles, whenever there were GM ads which listed all the various divisions, Saturn was conspicuously absent. When pressed on the issue, Saturn would be described as being a GM-owned but independent subsidiary. That's all long past now, of course, and Saturn is on it's way to turning into another "same parts, different badge" GM division...

-Ricardo
 

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rwhite,I was there on the 13th,and am 6' 6 tall so maybe we saw each other.Indeed I did fit,after lowering the seat down w the left handle-if it can "handle" the auto show w/o breaking I will be happy! I made a comment about my friends BMW seat adjustment being similar and the Mini "girl" quickly said it has nothing to do with BMW;) whatever...It will have to be one w/o the intense(big)sunroof as that took a few inches of headroom.All the S's I sat in had a sunroof. :(
 

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I was actually at the show on Feb 8th (an hour after the show opened to the public). I forgot to tell you that I was at the MINI booth for so long that one of the MINI specialist gave me her MINI lapel pin because she said it looked like I was having such a good time---which I was!:D
 
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