The new Mini starts to Roar

April sales figures confirm the second-generation Mini is getting traction around the globe. Sales of the Mini brand in April jumped 19.2 percent to 18,263 cars. During the first quarter, BMW was still ramping up the new Mini to full production, and sales of the car were down 5.2 percent compared with Q1 2005. The new-generation Mini, which is little changed in design but boasts a new engine and greater fuel efficiency, hit the U.S. market in February and Japan only in March.

Rolls Royce is also on a roll. In the first four months of the year, BMW sold 165 Rolls-Royce Phantoms — 4.4 percent more than in the same period last year. I’ll be test driving the new Rolls Drophead Phantom Coupe convertible next week — a car designed to be driven by its owner, unlike the classic Rolls which begs a chauffeur. I can’t wait to see how this refrigerator-on-wheels takes a curve and whether it handles like a BMW.

Overall, BMW is still outpacing rival Mercedes in the premium sector. BMW group vehicle sales for April rose 0.8 percent to 451,683 vehicles. By contrast Mercedes’ vehicle sales fell three percent, despite the launch of its new C-Class.

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