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Discussion Starter #1
Based on the cars at the 2002 Chicago Auto Show, MINI does not yet have any direct competition in the North American market. However, there are some possible threats on the horizon, and there are a few cars that attempt to compete in various ways. Examples include the Mazda Miata, the new Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX, Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe, and Volkswagen GTI.

Here are some photos, taken February 13, 2002, of both production and concept cars at the Chicago Auto Show which might compete with MINI. The first nominee is Volkswagen's Turbo Beetle...
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The Lotus Elise comes to North America for the first time as a 2003 model, priced attractively at $38,500. Way more than a loaded MINI, though.
 

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Ford introduces the SVT Focus in a few months. This car is trouble for the MINI, but it looks like Ford got the styling wrong on the SVT version.
 

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SAAB's concept car really impressed me. Although it's much larger than a MINI, it's much smaller than any production SAAB. If SAAB ever produces the car, it should compete more directly against BMW's Z3 hardtop.
 

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This Chrysler Crossfire two seater will be introduced as a 2003 model. Of all the cars I saw at the Chicago Auto Show, this one borrows (steals?) the most design cues from the new MINI, almost entirely inside the car. I don't mean to overemphasize this point, however. The Crossfire will really go after the BMW Z3 hardtop anyway.
 

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Here's that Crossfire interior view. Note the dual color upholstery and round rod-style door elements.
 

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I think the SVT is by far the toughest competition. It will have very S-like performance at Cooper prices. Some people really dislike the Focus styling, and that might hurt it, but I find it very attractive, and will definitely take a test-drive.
My understanding is that it has the same Getrag 6-speed as the S. The big four has more hp, good torque, good interior room. For less than $20,000 it is a very nice package.
 

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The Crossfire is based on the Merc SLk & will be gunning after the Audi TT :) Hey, its even been designed by a Brit :D :D :D
 

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RickB said:
I think the SVT is by far the toughest competition. It will have very S-like performance at Cooper prices. Some people really dislike the Focus styling, and that might hurt it, but I find it very attractive, and will definitely take a test-drive.
My understanding is that it has the same Getrag 6-speed as the S. The big four has more hp, good torque, good interior room. For less than $20,000 it is a very nice package.
The new Car and Driver has a very interesting article
comparing the VW GTI 1.8T, the Civic R, and the SVT.
The SVT placed first, with ratings primarily based on
"fun to drive," with the VW last (due to rubbery shifter
and body lean). In the article they mentioned that they
would have liked to have a Cooper S to round out the
field. :cool:

The acceleration on the SVT didn't look that much better
than the Cooper, and not nearly as good as the Cooper S.

--Will
 

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Let's wait 'til we see a S tested. Based on the latest weight figures, the S has a 50-pound advantage on the SVT, but the SVT has five more horsepower. If the S is really still a 2500lb car, with the recently-added weight merely to take the driver into account, then it has a considerable weight advantage and should be a bit quicker.
 
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