Friday, September 7, 2018

It’s a little late to announce back-to-school specials, but for a college kid with around $20K to spend, the 2019 MINI Oxford Edition is a pretty cool idea

2019 MINI Oxford Edition 2-Door and 4-Door versions
Photo: BMW Group Press Club.
Cars that are relatively inexpensive when new but still offer some level of an enthusiast-oriented driving experience aren’t exactly plentiful on the market these days.

And now that the industry—in the U.S., at least—seems to think everyone wants a crossover, “cheap sports cars” might become even harder to come by.

But there are a few around, like the Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ twins and, of course, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

And then there is MINI.

Especially for the young, single crowd, MINIs have a lot to offer. Now, let’s face it: they’re not exactly overpowered. But they do offer a sporty look and feel and a nice exhaust tone, all packed into a lightweight, low-slung format that gives you a lot of room to chuck around on the road and hone your cornering skills.

The popularity today of the hot-hatch look certainly helps their cause as well.

With a relatively low price by today’s standards, and a range of trim variants and special editions to choose from, MINI fits quite nicely into the accessible sports car category.

And on Thursday, the BMW Group , the parent company of the MINI brand, also announced a new initiative that could make a MINI even more accessible a specific set of related market segments. MINI USA is offering the 2019 MINI Oxford Edition, at a price starting under $20,000, to college students, recent graduates, and those continuing their education in graduate or professional school programs, as well as recent graduates.

The 2019 MINI Oxford edition starts at an MSRP of $19,750 for a two-door version and $20,750 for a 4-door (destination and handling fees additional). To qualify for these prices, the purchaser must be currently enrolled as a full- or part-time student in any two- or four-year accredited college or university, or must have graduated from a qualifying institution within the past 12 months.

Also eligible are students enrolled in post-bachelor’s degree programs, such as graduate school, law school, or medical school.

According to a press release from the BMW Group, the 2019 MINI Oxford Edition comes standard with nearly $7,000 in optional equipment. Among the standard goodies are a MINI Connected Infotainment System with a 6.5-inch high resolution screen, a rear-view camera, park distance control, MINI Teleservices, and emergency calling capability.

Also standard with the 2019 MINI Oxford Edition are upgraded 17” wheels in silver or black, automatic or manual transmission, a dual-pane panoramic moonroof, heated seats, and a choice of six exterior body colors. Not a bad package at all for around $20K.

“The MINI Oxford Edition represents a tremendous value for college students and recent graduates who are looking for a fun, stylish car that won’t break the bank,” said Randy Clements, Department Head, Product Planning & Aftersales, MINI USA. “Eligible students and graduates can save thousands on a well-equipped MINI that is ideal to get them to get to campus or their first job out of school in style.”

Granted, not every college student or parent of a collegian has the cash lying around to fund a $20,000 new-car purchase—nor even necessarily the means to qualify for a loan of that amount.

But for those who do have it, why not?

You’re only young once, so seize the day. Everyone should have the experience at least for a short time of owning a peppy, sporty, lightweight vehicle that, even if somewhat underpowered, can teach you some things you might otherwise never be exposed to about just how vibrant and energizing a driving experience can really be.

Frankly, if you look at the big picture, it also seems like a pretty smart marketing move for the BMW Group to make.

Sure, there are other choices on the market for a new car under $20,000—like, um, the Nissan Versa, the Ford Ecosport, or VW Jetta. But do any of those cars offer anything comparing to the cool factor and driving experience of a MINI? Nope.

So it’s a nice value proposition, and it’s also a chance to bring buyers with a promising future customer profile into the BMW Group fold at an early age. Those who as college students are already able to spend $20,000 on a car are probably good bets to be on a path toward long-term success.

And even if Mom and Dad are the ones actually writing the checks, parents with the means to do that are also more likely to have the kinds of social and professional connections to help their kids land a decent first gig right out of school.

It’s a smart strategy. Get kids of that profile into a BMW Group brand while they’re young, creating an opportunity to continue upselling them as they progress in their careers and mature in their automotive tastes.

Who knows? Today’s 2019 MINI Oxford Edition buyer might be tomorrow’s Rolls-Royce buyer. And one sale a couple of decades down the line of the BMW Group’s top-of-the line brand will certainly be enough to cover any discounts built into the price of numerous MINI Oxford Editions.

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