The 2014 MINI Cooper Hardtop will be released this spring to much fanfare. The third generation of “modern” MINI models (not including the original, which dated back to the 1950s) has grown in nearly every dimension, but maintains its plucky personality and go-cart like handling. Most importantly, it remains heaps of fun behind the wheel.
The 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop is a thoroughly reworked specimen, with a choice of two new engines, significant changes to the chassis that have yielded significantly more rigidity without adding weight, updated braking and suspension systems, and a few new comfort and convenience items. Let’s start with the engines. Out goes the venerable 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder unit, replaced by a twin-scroll turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder (pushing 134 horsepower) as the base engine.
Fuel efficiency is further enhanced by a start-stop feature that shuts down the engine when out of use, such as when stuck in traffic. The transmissions are updated, too, with a choice of six-speed automatic (which automatically rev-matches when downshifting) or the more enthusiast-focused manual transmission which so well befits this vehicle.
Inside, the brilliance of MINI engineers comes through in the subtle touches. The instrument cluster is now mounted directly to the steering column, and has a high-tech yet still familiar look to it. The biggest improvement, though, is the more than four inches of length the car has gained, which translate directly into improved legroom, both front and back. The height and width have also increased, and while the MINI is, er, still mini, even rear seat passengers can pass the miles in relative comfort.
The base 2014 MINI Hardtop comes well-equipped with manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows and locks, and audio system. As is typical of the brand, the list of options and option packages is nearly as long as your arm, offering enough optional color schemes, electronic goodies and performance options (inside and out) to appease even the most discerning of MINI aficionados.
On the road, the car accelerates eagerly and is more than willing to turn on a dime. The brakes have a progressive bite to them without being overly touchy, and the feeling of the steering wheel, switchgear, and pedal spacing comes together harmoniously. Each time I had to put it away for the evening was accompanied by a feeling of melancholy–it’s just that rewarding to drive.
With the low starting price, excellent fuel economy, and personality, the new MINI Hardtop is likely to woo car buyers from more pedestrian offerings. We invite you to come in and be among the first to test drive one this spring. For updates on timing, special offers and other important Mini news, sign up here.
Image: MINI USA
Act quickly to prevent rust and undercarriage damage
Each year, drivers face the same challenge in the aftermath of wintry weather: potential rusting and other vehicle damage due to the buildup of road salt, ice, and grime. Road salt serves an important function by actively melting snow and ice that may have formed on the surface of the highway in addition to preventing snow and ice from settling in the first place, improving traction for road users and helping to keep the traffic flowing more safely. The main disadvantage of road salt is that, if left unchecked, it can potentially cause damage to your car.
When road salt builds up on your vehicle, don’t wait to get your vehicle thoroughly cleaned as soon as possible. This guide from Crown MINI of Richmond illustrates just how damaging road salt can be—and how easy it is to prevent with our professional cleaning services.
Prevention is key to avoid long-term damage
Many experts recommend applying a coat of protective wax, followed by a coat of wax sealant, before road salt buildup, since it is far more difficult to prevent damage to the car after the fact. These products help protect the paint work from the corrosive effects of road salt.
But it’s not just the paint work that requires protection. Your brake and fuel lines are very susceptible to damage from corrosion. Therefore, road salt can not only have damaging aesthetic implications—it can have a significant impact on your vehicle’s safety as well.
Get salty deposits removed quickly
When you have been driving on salted roads, it is important to remove salt deposits as soon as possible. A simple car wash may not always be the most effective option. With professional detailing services at Crown MINI of Richmond, you can count on getting a thorough cleaning which will help protect your vehicle against possible damage. Additional services like steam cleaning and undercarriage cleaning offer even more peace of mind.
Professional detailing services may be more affordable than you think, especially when you consider the long-term damage that can result if road salt is left unchecked. After the cleaning, we recommend getting your vehicle re-waxed and sealed to protect your vehicle against any future wintry conditions during the season.
To learn more about our detailing services at Crown MINI of Richmond, contact our service department today.
What happens when MINI engineers added the fun of a go-kart to a practical vehicle? A one-of-a-kind innovation, such as the MINI John Cooper Works Concept. Lucky auto enthusiasts got a sneak peek at the latest JCW Concept at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Read on to learn what sets the all-new Concept apart from the standard version of the John Cooper Works model.
The John Cooper Works Concept gives a glimpse into the future of MINI vehicles. Despite its striking, aerodynamic, grey exterior, red accents and 18-inch John Cooper Works alloy wheels, the stylish design is only the tip of the iceberg. The concept is complete with a high-performance powertrain, innovative chassis technology and precise handling inherent to the MINI brand. Additional features include LED headlights and a black grille frame.
Though the John Cooper Works Concept is not available at our dealership, you can visit us to check out other all-new vehicles from the MINI lineup. To learn more about available John Cooper Works models, click here to visit the official MINI USA website.
The easy answer to what happens to car engines as they age is that they wear out. The much more complicated answer is exactly what begins to wear in an engine and when it does. The standard everyday vehicle engine is a reciprocating engine. This means that a series of pistons push down on a crankshaft, which changes the pushing and pulling motions of the pistons into a rotating motion that is passed on to the gearbox and then to the car’s wheels.
A lot of engine components either reciprocate or rotate at very high speeds and high temperatures, but modern-day engines are well built to handle this as parts that will wear out are usually easy to replace. The first thing likely to happen is the camshaft drive belt failing, and this can certainly damage your engine if the pistons smash into the valves, resulting in a big repair bill. All carmakers have a preset mileage at which the camshaft drive belt should be replaced, and some cars even have maintenance-free chain drives that do not have to be replaced.
Spark plugs are another thing that need to be replaced at a set interval, as the plugs themselves can burn out or become too dirty to work properly. These usually just screw in and out of the engine and are an easy fix.
The main wear inside the engine comes from all the moving parts. When correctly maintained, the oil in a car’s engine fills the tiny spaces between the moving parts so the parts themselves are not actually touching. Some wear does occur, especially in the early days, when the engine is “breaking in.” This is merely the process where all the different parts wear ever so slightly so that they all work smoothly together. That is why most automakers suggest that you not treat the engine too harshly or run it to extreme speeds for the first 1,000 miles or so.
In the long run, the cylinder bores will wear out the piston rings. These rings keep the oil in the engine from getting into the top of the cylinders where the fuel is being burned. That’s one of the main reasons why old or poorly maintained cars have a dark smoky exhaust – it is oil that has gone through the cylinder heads and out the exhaust.
The engine’s bearings can also wear out. These are metal inserts in the rods that connect the pistons to the crankshaft. If they begin to wear out, it’s easier and cheaper to replace the bearings and not the entire rod.
These last two types of engine wear should occur over a very long time period, unless there is some sort of manufacturing defect or a lack of maintenance, such as not changing the oil and oil filter at the prescribed intervals. Oil collects all the tiny bits of metal that can wear away in an engine and the filter removes those bits from the oil flow. So not only does oil keep your engine running smoothly, it also keeps it clean and free of stuff that can increase the wear rates.
Engines do wear out, but unlike in the old days, modern ones can last for a significant length of time if proper maintenance is carried out.
5 ways to help you protect the environment when washing your car
Washing the car is often a bit of a chore, but it can be much nicer during the summer when the sun is shining and the temperature is warm. Indeed, many people find washing the car to be a relaxing weekend pastime, and it can also ensure that your car stays in top condition. Of course, everyone is under increasing pressure to act in a more environmentally-friendly manner, and washing the car is no different. Here are some ways to be "green" when you wash the car.
Wash the Car on a Permeable Surface
Try not to wash the car on the pavement or on a driveway. Concrete surfaces repel water, forcing the excess water into the storm drains. This means that any oil or cleaning fluid in the water runs straight into the water system. Washing the car on a permeable surface like grass or dirt will allow natural microbes in the soil or sand to break down some of the chemicals.
Use a Bucket Instead of a Hose
Using a hose may be simple and efficient, but it also uses a lot more water than you need. If you want to save water and energy, revert to a traditional bucket. This will reduce the amount of water that you use enormously, even if you change the water a couple of times. A quick rinse with a hose may be a good way to remove excess detergent, but use sparingly. If you must use a hose, always choose one with an adjustable nozzle so that you can reduce the amount of spray to a minimum.
The Right Time to Wash
Choose the right time to wash your car. During the summer, for example, it really isn't necessary to clean the car daily or even more than once a month. A good cleaning once a month will help protect the paint and keep the car gleaming while reducing water and detergent consumption. As much as you may like the look of a freshly cleaned car, it really doesn't need to be done that often.
Reduce the Usage of Detergents
You should also aim to reduce the usage of detergents. Generally speaking, clean, warm water and a good cloth will be able to shift normal dirt and dust and will reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that you are sending into the environment. If need be, use a small amount of detergent on particularly stubborn stains or marks.
Look for Natural Alternatives
Try and look for natural alternatives to detergents and cleaning chemicals. For example, a cloth soaked in vinegar can be used to remove dead bugs from the front of the car. Denatured alcohol may be used to remove tree sap. Sprinkle baking soda on the car seats and then allow it to rest for thirty minutes before vacuum cleaning to freshen up the upholstery too.
Cleaning the car may be satisfying but it can also take its toll on the environment too. Use these simple tips for a greener, cleaner experience.
Standard gasoline is a finite resource, which has scientists and drivers starting to pay attention to the alternative fuels of the future.
Solar recharging is one alternative to internal combustion that has been around for a long time. Solar-powered cars have been in development for decades, but solar batteries have not so far proved efficient or powerful enough to power a modern car at a significant speed for any great distance under normal weather conditions. Efficiency of solar cells is being improved all the time, however, and solar power could still have its “day in the sun” as an alternative fuel of the future.
Biodiesel is another area where a significant amount of scientific research and development has already been invested. Crops including corn, wheat, and sugar cane can be harvested and converted into “biofuel”—usually ethanol-based. In fact, the enthusiasm for biofuels has created its own problems, as in some areas it has reduced the amount of farming land available to produce food for local populations. Biodiesel also has some of the same environmental implications as gasoline, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (although it contains far less of other polluting chemicals). Thus, while it is certainly a renewable energy source, there is disagreement among scientists and motorists about whether biodiesel is truly an alternative fuel of the future.
But if solar recharging and biodiesel from ground crops don't sound as though they're quite going to replace your unleaded gasoline any time soon, there are other options. Scientists have been excited about algae for a long time. As the world's population grows, and natural resources dwindle, many believe that simple algae, which grows abundantly in our oceans, could point the way both to alternative fuels of the future, and also to potential sources of food for future generations. It could be a practical, if not exactly appetizing, solution.
Hydrogen fuel cells are another potential fuel of the future, and one which is already being taken very seriously indeed. Hydrogen is a “lighter than air gas” which is estimated to make up as much as 75% of all matter in the universe. It's therefore both abundant and fairly simple to derive from both water and air. The widespread uptake of hydrogen fuel cells would, however, require massive investment in transport infrastructure: first, in terms of transporting and storing hydrogen gas, and second, in converting cars to run on the material, which differs from ethanol in that it requires making major changes to cars' engines.
There's also some concern over the safety of hydrogen as a widespread fuel. It is highly explosive when mixed with oxygen, which is why we don't use the gas to power airships anymore! Any new technology will bring its own challenges, and sooner or later we will have to choose one option or the other to replace dwindling reserves of crude oil.
States are going bankrupt. States provide money for schools. It doesn't take an 'A' in math to realize this equation equals zero when it comes to school funding. What, therefore, is a parent to do?
Where government has failed, corporate sponsors and other entities have gotten involved to make sure your child's education doesn't get an ’F’. They can't do it alone. Here's how you can help.
- A Direct Donation - The great thing about donating money to a school is you get to choose what it's used for. Don't think the club your son or daughter wants to join has enough funding? Donate. Think the basketball team needs new uniforms? Buy them. Don't like your daughter's science teacher? Well, there's not much you can (legally) do about that.
- Business Fundraisers - Find stores that contribute a certain percentage of their sales to a particular school. In the past, many nationally prominent retail outlets have designated a portion of money used to buy school supplies toward the school of your choice. Find out which these stores are and patronize them.
- Business Partners - Partner with a local business and ask it to donate a percentage of one day's profits to your school. Here's how it works. Your school, club, or organization distributes fliers to bring to a particular restaurant on a particular day. Anyone bringing in a flier has a certain portion of the money spent that day go to a specific school or club. It's a win-win. The business gets more business and the school or club gets more money.
- Recycling - Earn green by going green. Regardless of which "green" you prefer, schools can raise money by recycling old ink cartridges, cell phones, and other electronics. A simple Internet search will provide numerous organizations that accept used electronics and give money or supplies to any registered school.
- Leading the Charge - A portion of your credit card purchases can be given to the school of your choice. Some stores already have a program in place--Target, for example. Find out which stores in your area have a program, register and shop there. There are also numerous e-shopping outlets that have similar programs.
- Corporate Sponsors - This is similar to teaming up with businesses. Schools can gain sponsorships from computer stores, local TV networks, or home improvement outlets to receive heavily discounted items. The corporate sponsor, in turn, gets good publicity.
- Fundraisers - Children have been raising money for their school for years by selling magazine subscriptions, useless doodads, or buckets of cookie dough. If you really want to help out your child's school, buy some fundraising items.
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MINI is keeping the momentum rolling with another award-winning feat. For the third year in a row, MINI ALL4 Racing has won the 2014 Dakar Rally! Racer Joan “Nani” Roma led the way, finishing what’s considered the “toughest rally challenge in the world” in a mere 5:34 minutes. What’s more, Roma completed the race right in front of his MINI ALL4 Racing teammates, Stéphane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah, who finished in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.
Not only did MINI win the Dakar Rally podium, throughout the duration of the event, MINI vehicles won 11 out of 13 stages. Ironically, eleven MINI ALL4 Racers competed in the 2014 Dakar Rally, too. Each of the vehicles in the rally were inspired by the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman but manufactured for off-road motorsport.
Our team at Crown MINI of Richmond could not be more excited about MINI ALL4 Racing’s recent win at the 2014 Dakar Rally. Though we don’t condone racing your MINI vehicle, we invite you to check out one of the award-worthy vehicles available in our inventory.
2012 MINI COOPER S CLUBMAN
CERTIFIED 2013 MINI COOPER S COUNTRYMAN ALL4
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