MINI picks Korea to introduce its newest Countryman
MINI introduced a partially revamped, or face-lifted, version of its second-generation Countryman SUV — the first time the MINI brand, well-known for its quirky designs and go-kart driving experience, has held a world premier in Korea since it started its business here 15 years ago.
The move was a continuation of an effort by BMW, MINI's parent company, to show its dedication to Korea, which is rapidly becoming a major market for the German luxury automaker.
Just last month, its bigger affiliate BMW held world premiers for new models of the 5 Series and 6 Series in Korea, also a first not only for the brand, but also among all imported carmakers selling cars in Korea.
“Korea is a country deeply rooted in tradition yet open for modernism and suits perfectly with our 60-year-old brand, MINI,” said Bernd Korber, head of MINI, through a recorded video.
“People are vibrant and active and are in my opinion a perfect match for our biggest and most versatile model, the new MINI Countryman.”
The Countryman, which was first introduced in 2011, is the only model within the MINI lineup that comes with four doors. It accounts for 30 percent of sales at MINI, according to the brand.
The partially revamped crossover SUV came with a redesigned front grille and taillight. The front grille sports a hexagonal pattern and the taillight has MINI’s signature Union Jack design. It is first time the Countryman has featured the Union Jack design, which points to the brand's British roots.
The Countryman is available with seven different engines, three of which will be petrol and three diesel. The last variety is a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The Countryman is the first model within the MINI lineup to come with the eco-friendly engine option, according to the brand.
The hybrid version, which will come to Korea next year at the earliest, will have a maximum 220 horsepower and will be able to drive 61 kilometers (38 miles) on electric mode.
The other two engine types will start sales here in the fourth quarter.
The internal combustion engine versions’ maximum horsepower will vary from 102 to 190 depending on the type.
MINI has been showing solid growth since it first came to Korea in 2005.
Last year, it sold 10,222 units, recording an 11.2 percent year-on-year jump.
As of May this year, it has sold 4,177 units, 9.8 percent more than the same period last year when it sold 3,804 units.
Korea is MINI's eighth biggest market, the brand said Wednesday.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [email@example.com]
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