Mini has modest hopes for freshened small cars

Mini has modest hopes for freshened small cars

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Despite updates to core models, Mini doesn’t “expect growth in the small-car segment.”

Mini isn’t counting on a freshening of its core small cars this spring to boost sales of those models in the U.S., given the weak demand for subcompact vehicles industrywide.

“We don’t expect growth in the small-car segment,” Thomas Felbermair, vice president of Mini Region Americas, told Automotive News late last year.

Mini’s 2019 classic three-door and five-door Hardtops and convertible will get updated design elements, new technology and expanded digital services. Mini will show the three-door Hardtop and convertible this week at the Detroit auto show, while the five-door Hardtop will debut in March at the New York auto show. All three vehicles will go on sale in the U.S. in late March or early April, a company spokesman said. Mini did not announce pricing for the 2019 models.

The updates could help keep sales flat for the freshened Hardtop models, Felbermair said.

Sales of the three-door Hardtop dropped less than 1 percent last year to 11,257 vehicles after a 43 percent drop in 2016. Sales of the five-door Hardtop tumbled 31 percent in 2017, on top of a 26 percent drop the year before. In contrast, sales of the convertible increased 21 percent in 2017, the second straight rise for the open-top model.

The 2019 models get updated headlights, optional LED taillights with a new Union Jack design and Mini’s new flat, two-dimensional logo.

Interior changes include a standard 6.5-inch display and optional 8.8-inch touch-screen display. Mini says the vehicles have a better user interface with Bluetooth mobile phone integration and support for Bluetooth audio streaming.

New digital services include advanced real-time traffic information with 4G LTE connectivity and support for Apple CarPlay. Drivers using the personal mobility assistant feature, available through the Mini Connected smartphone app, can link calendar entries to the car’s navigation system for route planning, including departure alerts using real-time traffic data.

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