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MINI enhances driving experience in 3 key ways with ALL4

MINI started out as a supplier of fun, quirky, but not very practical cars. Now that they have hooked us all, they are starting to offer more and more practical, and all-weather vehicles.

The original MINI offered in the US was a tiny car that had fun in mind. Since the first car MINI has been on a march towards all-wheel drive and larger vehicles that are more practical. It all started with the addition of bit more length (about 9 and half inches) to create a little more legroom for the rear seat passengers and little door hidden away on the passenger side of the car. Those two changes opened the door for the MINI to be a vehicle that made sense for customers and wasn’t bound by any preconceived notions of what mini meant.

The MINI Countryman is the big MINI. This is a four door vehicle and it is raised up a bit for a beefier look and possibly bit more all-road capability. However it was the addition of all wheel drive (AWD) that really shook things up in the MINI line-up. AWD has three main uses in passenger cars. First, it is very helpful in launching the car when paved roads are slick, such as in snowy conditions. Second, it can help a vehicle that is built on a front drive platform to handle more neutrally, and put the power down to the ground more effectively. Front drivers tend to under-steer when pushed and they have a little bit of an issue with torque-steer. However, it is when turning and accelerating that a sporty front-driver really feels cheap. Spinning the inside wheel and having the wheel squirm around in ones hands imparts a feeling of economy, not in line with the price tag of a MINI. AWD cures these ills for the most part. The third use is to allow the vehicle to be a soft-road, off-roader. There is no reason a MINI can’t handle dirt roads and gravel parking lots around ski areas and campgrounds just as well as say, a Toyota RAV 4 can. We shouldn’t pretend the vehicle is intended for off road use. So by adding AWD, MINI enhances the vehicle in three key ways customers will appreciate.

MINI will have a total of 8 models that feature AWD when the new 2-door Paceman CUV arrives later this year. These models range from stylish, but tame Countryman, to the quite flashy MINI John Copper Works Paceman. MINI is also one of the few brands that offers both manual and also automatic transmissions in its AWD mini-crossovers.

The AWD drive system MINI uses is called ALL4. Ever since the original Audi Quattro, naming an AWD system has been a German fascination. ALL4 has a good ring to it. ALL4 also has some unusual technology that makes it interesting and functional. The electromagnetic center differential for example. This center Diff. can transfer up to 100% of the power aft when conditions dictate. Normally the power is a 50-50 split front to rear. The system also has all the modern tricks such as the ability to allow a little bit of wheel-spin in slippery conditions such as snow and sand. The traction control can also use the brakes to grab hold of a single spinning wheel as well, thereby eliminating the need for limited slip differentials.

As MINI grows up look for more models with larger dimensions, more doors, and AWD optional.