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Mini exploits Japan

BMW premiered the 163bhp Mini Cooper S at the Tokyo show to capitalise on the Japanese public's enthusiasm for the marque. The model goes on UK sale next June, priced around £15,000.

The Mini, not due for launch in Japan until March, has attracted 25,000 potential buyers to its website since May. Mark Harrison, Mini's media relations executive, said: "While this does not represent hard orders there are 25,000 people registering an interest.

"Choosing Tokyo to debut the Cooper S was a thank you to Japan for its loyalty."

More than 100,000 old Mini models are believed to be in use on Japan's roads.

BMW, which has allocated Japan just 10,000 Minis a year, has ruled out releasing more right-hand drive supplies partly because it plans to raise UK share. The carmaker intends to boost production at its Oxford plant from a planned 10,000 next year to 125,000 units. (November 8, 2001)

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