MINI China is going to the upcoming London Olympics with a killer new ride. To commemorate the 2012 Olympic Games, the diminutive BMW-owned marque is set to launch a special edition MINI Cooper hatchback in China next month, sporting a gold track that runs along the top of the car. Based on the standard Cooper and outfitted with a 120 horsepower, 1.6-liter inline-four engine, the special edition vehicle also includes a numbered "MINI China Olympic Special Edition" badge on the grill, as well as mirror caps featuring a grayscale Union Jack flag. Lest anybody think, "that's random," it's important to point out that MINI is the official partner of the Chinese 2012 Olympic delegation.
The China special edition Cooper isn't the only commemorative model that MINI will release this summer, however, with the automaker also creating special-edition cars for the U.K. market, which Motortrend points out will feature "Chilli Red, White Silver, or Lightning Blue paint; Olympic logos; and dashboard graphics reading, 'London 1 of 2012.'"
Looking to stay ahead of lilliputian rival (and recent China entrant), Fiat's 500, while beefing up its image among male drivers, this is only one of MINI China's recent efforts to elevate its status among China's gearheads. Last November, the marque teamed up with the Peninsula Shanghai for the first-ever “Peninsula-MINI Rally,” a two-day racing event attended by 26 hand-picked drivers from Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hubei and Shandong. Also last fall, MINI concluded its second-annual “Chinese Job” driving competition, following a months-long series of contests in 36 cities throughout China.
To outrace subcompact competitors like Smart and Fiat, MINI has also turned more to Chinese digital platforms. The automaker has been quite active on Sina Weibo, where it boasts over 140,000 fans, and in July 2011, MINI announced a new online sales channel on its official website. At the same time, MINI debuted a new China-only “Tattoo” edition MINI Cooper, limited to only 100 units priced at 287,000 yuan (US$44,589), all of which sold out within five months.
Now we'll have to see whether the automaker's Olympic-edition Cooper inspires the same reaction when it hits the market in China next month. Pricing TBA.