The problem with with an iconic and (somewhat) singularly-focused brand like MINI
is that it can never satisfy the breadth of shoppers’ automotive needs. While the model range has expanded to six, all are essentially variations on a common theme.
Even the separate-platform Countryman
, with its available all-wheel-drive and SUV designation, is really just a larger box-on-box variant of the base Cooper. The MINI Coupe
, on the other hand, is a smaller and shorter version of the MINI Cooper
, designed to appeal to those who wear baseball caps backwards. The Roadster chops the Coupe's top, while the Convertible does the same to the standard Cooper. The Clubman's almost a wagon, but only offers 2.5 doors and a small increase in length over the hatchback.
To brand outsiders, all models look more or less alike, which may add to MINI’s funky charm, but it won’t draw new buyers into dealer showrooms. MINI knows this, so the brand is in the midst of a product expansion.
Dr. Kay Segler, MINI’s boss, told reporters at the Detroit Auto Show
that the brand would get three new models by the end of the decade. He didn’t elaborate, and there’s no way of knowing if the upcoming Countryman Coupe, which debuted as the Paceman concept in 2011, will be included in that mix.Automotive News
(subscription required) reports that models under consideration at MINI include a five-door station wagon, a van and even a notchback sedan. Of the three, the sedan is perhaps the most hotly debated, since it represents the biggest deviation from MINI’s tried-and-true styling formula.
The station wagon could benefit from BMW’s new front wheel drive platform, which debuts on the 2014 MINI Cooper hardtop. The larger van model would share a platform with the MINI Countryman, though it’s unclear if the van would also be offered in an all-wheel-drive variant.
Styling concerns aside, the sedan is being considered primarily for the Chinese market, so it’s possible that the car would be launched on a regional basis only. Don’t expect to see the proposed new models at MINI dealers any time soon, since sources have them debuting at decade’s end--if they materialize at all.