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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new Mini Cooper hatch has made simultaneous world debuts at the Los Angeles and Tokyo motor shows, combining evolutionary styling with brand-new engines, transmissions, suspension technology, interior layout and driver assist systems.

The unveiling of the new Mini Cooper hardtop marks the birth of the third generation of new Minis, following the launch of the first-gen in 2001 and the outgoing second-gen in 2006. The new hatch will be the first of up to 10 body styles planned for the third-gen range based on BMW’s new front-wheel-drive UKL archtiecture, with Cabrio, Countryman, Coupe, Roadster, five-door hatch, and others due to roll out over the coming years.

The new Mini Cooper hatch has grown in all directions, measuring 98mm longer (3821mm), 44mm wider (1727mm) and 7mm taller (1414mm) than its predecessor. The wheelbase is also 28mm longer (2495mm) and the front and rear tracks have increased 42mm and 34mm respectively. Mini says its larger dimensions create more cabin space for occupants and an extra 51 litres of boot space (now 211L).

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As revealed in September, the third-generation Mini Cooper will launch with three new stop-start-equipped turbocharged engines: a petrol and a diesel in 1.5-litre three-cylinder configurations, and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol.

The entry-level petrol engine produces 100kW and 220Nm, launching the hatch from 0-100km/h in a claimed 7.8 seconds while consuming 4.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

The diesel produces 85kW and 270Nm, and consumes a claimed 3.5L/100km, making it one of the most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicles on the market.

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The sporty 2.0-litre petrol in the Mini Cooper S pumps out 141kW and 280Nm (up 6kW/40Nm on its 1.6-litre predecessor), sprints to triple figures in as little as 6.7 seconds and consumes a claimed 6.7L/100km combined.

All engines are available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

The new Mini Cooper hatch debuts Driving Modes as an option, allowing drivers to select between Green, Mid and Sport modes, each of which influence the characteristics of the accelerator and steering, as well as the auto transmission shift properties and set-up of the adjustable dampers (another first) where applicable.

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Inheriting know-how from parent company BMW, the third-gen Mini Cooper gains a host of driver assist features, with a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, road sign detection, high-beam assistant, auto reversing parking and a rear-view camera all available for the first time.

It also adds dual-zone climate control, heated seats, panoramic glass roof, auto headlights and wipers, and new Harman Kardon audio options over the old model.

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Mini’s new Connected and Connected XL infotainment systems offer extensive smartphone integration, allowing access to internet-based media, information, navigation, communication and driver experience functions through a range of apps.

The third-generation Mini Cooper hatch will arrive in Australian showrooms from March.

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