By Andrew Ganz
Monday, Jun 28th, 2010 @ 9:12 am
 
Still essentially unchallenged in the character-packed small premium car segment, MINI's lineup was nonetheless due for a light refresh - and that's exactly what the British-German automaker has delivered for the 2011 model year.

Set to launch globally on September 18, the existing MINI lineup gains new exterior touches, added interior convenience and, for some markets, all-new diesel powertrains.

The changes apply to MINI's standard Cooper, extended Clubman and droptop Convertible models.

Mildly revised styling
MINI owner BMW has preserved the classic Sir Alec Issigonis-penned body lines while adding new styling elements and upgrading the front bumper to better work with increasingly stringent pedestrian safety standards in Europe.

All models now come with LED rear brake and stop lights and BMW's dynamic brake light, which lights up brighter when the brakes are pushed harder.

New wheel designs make a line-wide appearance.

All three models will be available with more personalization options, but MINI is touting its "design worlds," three factory-recommended themes that contain various "recommended" trim combinations marketed under the Rally, Classic and Scene categories. MINI promises that each category offers many choices that have been selected for an "extremely coherent character."

Upgraded within
Again retaining its basic retro-inspired interior theme, the MINI gets new radio and climate controls and some upgraded interior materials. New seat fabrics also make an appearance.

The Clubman adds a retractable roller-type cargo cover, too.

Diesel punch
MINI isn't expected to offer a diesel in North America, where emissions standards make it difficult for the automaker to compete. But for other markets, two new diesel engines will be on offer, starting with the base MINI One D, which comes with a new 90 horsepower motor. Step up to the MINI Cooper D for 112 horsepower and an impressive 62 mpg (U.S.) on the combined cycle and just 99 g/km of CO2 emissions.

MINI has not detailed mechanical changes ore specifications for North American models yet, but we expect to hear more closer to their release in the fall. Look for prices to mostly stay the same.