Mini USA general manager Jack Pitney has admitted that the new Mini's performance in the May 6 JD Power and Associates Initial Quality Study was surprising but gave an interesting insight into US buyers' priorities as the reason, according to The Car Connection (TCC) website.

TCC said the Mini scored 166, far below the industry average of 133.

"We hadn't anticipated it," TCC quoted Pitney as saying with a note of resignation. "We monitor our quality closely. Yes, we've had some quality issues with cars coming to the US [but] most have nothing to do with vehicles coming from the factory."

TCC said the chief complaint among owners — JD Power solicits responses during the first 90 days of ownership — is that tall travel mugs don't fit into the Mini's minuscule cup holder.

The solution, TCC added, was for Mini USA to send a specially designed travel mug to every owner with a signed apology from Pitney.

TCC also cited Pitney as saying that owners also complained about the centre-mounted speedo - a design cue the company wouldn't dream of changing -as well as a harsh ride. A more robust oil in the shocks should cushion sensitive Yankee backsides, Pitney reportedly said, but winning the initial quality battle is tough for new brands.

"And we're British, so we already have a lot of baggage," he added with a laugh, according to TCC.

Another report said that some US buyers wanted a rear foglight. That is coming, according to Mini USA, which shouldn't have much difficulty getting the factory to add a device already fitted for most other markets.