By on December 4, 2013

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Though MINI’s lineup hasn’t (literally) lived up to its name since its reboot by parent BMW, product boss Pat McKenna would like to see the Rocketman — a MINI that truly is mini — appear in showrooms all over the world.

For that scenario to play out, though, the Rocketman needs a flight partner.

The main issue is one of platform; while the newest MINI hardtop rides on the same platform that will make its way into BMW’s smallest offerings, it’s impossible to scale it down to the size of the Rocketman, and BMW doesn’t want to invest the money in an all-new front-drive architecture of that size, especially if its just for one model. Therefore, BMW is looking for a Toyota-Subaru arrangement where two companies would split the development costs.

Alas, McKenna still hasn’t found what he’s looking for in a suitable partner chassis, due to MINI’s focus on driving performance. That said, he does see potential in the Rocketman in markets near and (especially) far, and would love to sell the fun-size coupe in showrooms all over the world should the right partnership were to be forged.

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22 Comments on “MINI Seeks Partner For Smaller MINI...”

  • avatar

    The answer would seem to be: partner with a Japanese company and use a JDM Kei platform.

    Also, I like how they don’t want to invest to make a MINI-sized MINI model.

    I’m gonna start a pizza restaurant, a very unique one. But pizza ovens are expensive so I’ll just pay Domino’s to use theirs.

    • 0 avatar

      Is there such a thing as FWD kei that can be brought up to MINI standard? Frankly what I saw of keis was decidedly opposite. Most even had engines in the back, the rest go with live axles even now!

      I’m thinking maybe something like Toyota iQ may work. Just stretch it a bit for 2+2.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Yep, that’s the way to go. The iQ has the drivetrain origami that made the original Mini feasible in the first place, and Toyota and BMW are playing footsie already.

  • avatar

    How small is the Suzuki Swift? There are tons of manufacturers on the ropes with little B-segment hatches who would love the infusion. I am thinking Suzuki, Renault, or Mazda.

  • avatar

    Maybe they can buy the next-gen Yaris platform from Toyota. You know, the one Toyota is actually borrowing from the Mazda2?

  • avatar

    Will they call it the MINI-ME?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Whichever platform BMW ends up borrowing, I’ll bet it will be for a car that isn’t sold here in the States. But BMW needs to be careful and make sure that this platform is worthy of the MINI name, and of the price-premiums that MINIs command. We’re pretty much past the days of putting lipstick on pigs.

    As a side note: Even though brands like Bentley and Rolls-Royce are owned by German companies and make extensive use of German parts and engineering, I still think of them as being quintessentially-British. Yet I don’t feel that way about MINI; I’ve thought of it as German ever since the BMW ownership. I wonder why that is…

    • 0 avatar

      Because you don’t drive one?

      The one I drive is absolutely quintessentially British. It’s a year and a half old and it’s already falling apart and has been since day one.

  • avatar

    If they had the guts to build a Mini on the Toyota IQ platform I’m all for it, but instead of the toy sounding “Rocketman”, they should call it the “Honestman”.

    Naturally, they did this after years of CUVs and other embarrassing variants.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I was thinking that myself, but it might be too narrow. If they can stretch it widthwise and lengthwise, it’s not such a bad idea. And it won’t be nearly so much of a crime as the Aston Martin Cygnet.

  • avatar

    Renault already partnered with Mercedes for the new Twingo/Smart. That platform is going to be rear wheel driven.

  • avatar

    “fun-size coupe”? Someone been drinking too much PR Koolaid lately. How about “torture eggshell” or “suicide chamber”?

  • avatar

    I think an opportunity has been missed. Instead of “Rocketman,” it should be called the “Pocketman.”

  • avatar

    I nominate Mazda for the job.

  • avatar

    Mazda looks like it would be a reasonable choice, as would Fiat if they could share a platform with the 500.

    • 0 avatar

      The drooping sales of the 500 in America mean it’s a niche here, and likely better suited for the rest of the world that doesn’t have American butts. The Mini label also means premium pricing, and I would find it striking if a mini Mini were acceptable to the wealthier individuals in world markets. They may not have American-sized butts, but they must have some measure of “bigger is better”, or at least “bigger is more comfortable”. Would Marcelo buy one?

      • 0 avatar

        Is it our butts or the fact we don’t have the same population density as many other places? If I lived in NYC, Boston, or Chicago, I can see the benefit of owning a 500 or similar car. In the Detroit suburbs, with a garage, and free off street parking at work, I have no reason to choose a Fiat 500 as a daily driver. Hell, a Focus or Cruze is just as cheap as any subcompact.

        • 0 avatar
          Rod Panhard

          A lot of Americans are too big. It’s not just our fat asses, but a lot of us tower over the rest of the world.

          As to the population density point. It really doesn’t matter. I live outside New York City and have quite a few friends and acquaintances and associates in NYC. It costs the same to park full-sized car in an NYC parking garage, long term, short term, daily, weekly, etc. as it does a smart car or MINI. I even know a guy who was going to buy a scooter, but when he asked his parking garage how much it is to park it, they told him it was the same as his Audi. So no scooter for him.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The front view reminds me of the Paul Frank monkey.

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