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ed star attached to an upright grille plus enlarged all-LED (Light Emitting Diode) headlamps provide the illu- sion that the SLK is much lower and wider than its predecessor.The SLK’s signature power-retractable hardtop features an optional panoramic glass roof that can be ordered with what’s called Magic Sky Control. With the press of a button, the glass can be adjusted between clear and dark tint, handy if you want to keep the sun’s rays from invading the passenger compartment.A 201-horsepower tur- bo four-cylinder is the new base en- gine; 302-horse V6 is optional;SLK55 AMG runs with a 415-horsepower V8; all use seven-speed automatic transmissions, while a six-speed manual gearbox can only be had on the turbo. Base price (incl. destination): $67,500 (SLK350) Base engine (hp): 1.8-litre DOHC I4, turbocharged (201) Optional engines (hp): 3.5-litre DOHC V6 (302); 5.5-litre DOHC V8 (415)

l/100 km (city/hwy): 10.6/6.9 (V6) Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control

MINI Cooper/Clubman

Both Mini coupe and convertible, plus the extended-length Clubman wagon, are fun fuel sippers that are built in Oxford, England, but contain plenty of DNA supplied by parent BMW of Germany;a new suite of op- tions supply a touch of luxury; John Cooper Works edition adds serious performance along with good looks. The elongated Clubman wagon (23- centimetres longer than a standard Mini) provides entry to its two-place rear-seat by way of a small passen- ger-side half door. As well, the dual rear doors open wide for access to the Clubman’s comparatively cav- ernous stowage area. For the 2012 model year a new group of Mini and Clubman options, called “Mini Yours”, is now available and includes up-lev- el upholstery, a soft-touch stitched leather instrument panel cover, two- tone leather steering wheel, unique 17-inch alloy wheels and other trim pieces.In addition, the base Clubman now comes with a new 15-inch wheel design.

Base price (incl. destination): $23,550 (hatchback); $30,800 (con- vertible); $24,850 (Clubman); $38,500 (John Cooper Works) Base engine (hp): 1.6-litre DOHC I4 (121)

Optional engine (hp): 1.6-litre DOHC I4, turbocharged (181) l/100 km (city/hwy): 7.3/5.4 (base 1.6, MT)

Countryman The Countryman is the first four-

door, all-wheel-drive-optional Mini and also the biggest.Yet, when com- pared to any other funky-grade off- roader on the market (Kia Soul or Nissan Juke, for example), the Countryman remains the smallest of the bunch.The Countryman is about 15 centimetres taller than its siblings and is also 10 centimetres wider for added shoulder and elbow room.The generously proportioned rear doors provide easy access for two adults perched atop flat-folding bucket seats (a three-place rear bench is also of- fered). Opening the big rear hatch gains access to a decent-sized stor- age compartment. With the back seats folded, there’s about 25 per cent more capacity than you’ll find in- side a Mini Clubman. Base price (incl. destination): $29,450

Base engine (hp): 1.6-litre DOHC I4 (121)

Optional engine (hp): 1.6-litre DOHC I4, turbocharged (181) l/100 km (city/hwy): 8.1/6.6 (base

2WD) CAR CARRIERSfrom Cooper Coupé

(New for 2012!) As Minis go, the Coupé is the Mini-

est. In the marque’s storied 50-year- plus history it has never built a two- seat model, much less a car that shuns the squared-off look in favour of a rounded roofline. Still it appears every inch a Mini, especially the low- er body area that looks as if it was lifted from the classic Mini produc- tion line.The only key dimension that

has shrunk is the height, due to a less upright windshield.The Coupe’s sig- nature design piece and easily the most controversial is its “helmet” look roof that, for added emphasis, is painted in a contrasting colour. In place of the squared-off liftgate for regular Minis, the Coupé features a large hatchback that opens very wide and very high to accommodate a rea- sonable amount of cargo.This space can be further extended by a pass- through that extends into the cabin.



Cooper Coupé


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