By on April 30, 2016

2015 Mini 4-door and 2-door

Mini needs a fifth core model that stays true to the brand’s heritage while drawing in more customers, but the man in charge of the brand doesn’t like sedans.

Unless a previously unknown model crawls out of Mini’s history, one side of the dilemma will have to give up ground.

Ralph Mahler, Mini’s vice-president of product development, sparked sedan rumors earlier this month when he said a conventional four-door makes good business sense, especially in the U.S. and Asia. His boss doesn’t disagree, but hates the idea.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW Group board member in charge of the brand, told Automotive News Europe that a compact sedan doesn’t fit the brand.

“I can’t rule it out completely because we are running a business here, and from that point of view it’s an interesting segment,” Schwarzenbauer said. “But from a brand perspective, I just don’t see a fit. I can’t envision a sedan that could come close to something that is authentically Mini.”

The Mini boss admitted a sedan was among the proposals drawn up for the brand’s final core model (or “superhero,” in Mini parlance).

Schwarzenbauer loves the Superleggera roadster concept, but said the volume would be too small. At the very least, he said, the model should be a plug-in hybrid, not a full EV. A smaller Mini hardtop is off the table because the automaker doesn’t have the proper architecture.

Mini’s mystery model, whatever it ends up being, joins the Cooper hardtop, convertible, newly lengthened Clubman, and the upcoming Countryman.

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40 Comments on “Mini Boss Doesn’t Want to Sully the Brand With an Icky Sedan...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I saw a Countryman going down my street the other day. Mini has already shat all over its brand. May as well bring a sedan too.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I was thinking the same thing. How does the countryman fit the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Jgwag1985

        Ridiculous. So Ford should never produced anything but a variant of the Model T? VW should only build Beetle’s? Mercedes should only build 3 wheel vehicles? Jeep should only make 2 seat convertibles. Lamborghini should only build tractors?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I know people love disagreeing in this manner regarding Mini. But Mini was ONE car and very similar variances, for its entire UK original run.

          None of your other examples were.

          • 0 avatar
            Jgwag1985

            So why do you think BMW bought the Mini brand? To build one model? Comment about original Mini the same with variances, obviously you did not understand my comment…..since you didn’t get it, but brought it up, how many variants of the model T were there during it’s production run? Same vehicle with variances just like the original Mini.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The Countryman fits the brand because it’s still small. It’s the size of a 1987 Civic Wagon for gods sake. Maybe you should talk to Honda, which was sort of a Japanese Mini, and ask them about how they’ve managed to tack on 42 inches over the original Civic. It’s about 64 inches if you want to go back to the N600. The current 2016 Civic Sedan is about the same length as a 1996 Ford Bronco.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          Maybe internally, but it’s huge on the outside. Remember that comparison article here on TTAC a few years ago where one dwarfed an old legacy outback parked next to it.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            I’m only talking external measurements. Not sure what “it’s” refers to. A Countryman is 161.8 inches long. A 1987 Honda Civic Wagon was 161.6 inches long according to the specs I found. A 2016 Civic Sedan is 182.3 inches long and a 1996 Bronco is 183.6. I’m wondering how long it will take for the Civic to grow the remaining 2 1/2 feet to catch up with a 1962 Continental.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      True on the countryman. But building a boring sedan with be the true dump on the brand.

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Mini should name their next model the Cartman.

  • avatar
    brn

    Mini needs to be a niche brand. They’ve already damaged that somewhat with the Countryman. They don’t need to damage it further with a sedan.

    Sure that means they won’t get sedan sales. They’re not getting motorcycle sales either. Let the parent company get those sales.

    To try and go mainstream will likely cause long term damage to Mini.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Yep, brn. Couldn’t agree more. You and Schwarzenbauer, IMO, are absolutely correct.

      It drives me nuts when brands try to be all things to all people. BMW has other brands and models for the sedan audience. To market a Mini sedan would be nothing more than BMW management abdicating their responsibility to maximize the success of the company as a whole by letting a division head do what’s in his own selfish best interests.

      Incidentally the “total quality” guru, W. Edwards Deming, did a lot of insightful writing on this subject as well.

  • avatar

    Can someone more in tune with the current MINI lineup explain to me why a Clubman A) exists and B) costs ~$3000 more than the 4-door MINI?

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      @Flybrian – the clubman, being essentially a wagon, provides extra space inside without the goofy stupid pointless extra ground clearance of the Countryman. It is more desirable than the 4 door mini because of the extra space without compromised driving dynamics, which is probably why its more expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        Richard Chen

        You’ve really got to want to pay the Mini Clubman premium, and guess what? It’s in demand. it outsold the Golf Wagon last month, 1,037 to 967. YTD Q1 the Clubman is behind 1,695 to 2,309.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll refrain from answering A) and B) with stupid comments about Mini drivers.

      It’s their money.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The same reason a Camry is $3k more than a Corolla and an Accord is $3k more than a Civic. They may have the same number of doors and look pretty similar, but they are in two different vehicle classes.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Keep the hatchback, because 1. there are already enough super small sedans that suck and 2. you people will just screw it up anyway.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Translated:

    “We don’t want Mini competing with BMW in the Sedan market.”

  • avatar

    The five-door is already a very dangerous car. Imagine other road users look the other way the moment this Mini stretcho-version shows up… endangering traffic in the process.

  • avatar
    ThisWas

    Mini sedan variants included the Riley Elf and the Wolseley Hornet.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wolseley_Hornet_Biggleswade.JPG

  • avatar
    Feds

    If only there were precedent for a mini sedan…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini#Wolseley_Hornet_and_Riley_Elf_.281961.E2.80.931969.29

    Mini Elf or Mini Wolseley

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      I thought there was a 3 box sedan from mini’s past – Thanks for the link.

      But technically the original mini was a sedan i.e. Separate trunk from the passenger compartment.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Clubman”?

    Based on the way most Minis are driven around here, I think the next model should be called “Jerkman”.

  • avatar

    The next Mini should decide for itself how it wants to be identified without your preconcpetions.

    #NotAllClubman #YNOPACEWOMAN? #Countryperson #Safespace #Jezebel

  • avatar
    Joss

    BMC Farina take on the Mini. They weren’t in production too long or sell too well. A Moke reboot may be a better path.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    A sedan as an entry-level Mini ? A stripper with a lowball sticker ? Doesn’t sound profitable.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Id rather see a shooting brake-style Mini. Longer than the current two door. But, Im no Mini fan anyway, so whatever they do, I dont much care.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    After reading about C&D’s terrible experience with the long-term test Mini in their June issue, they can keep that POS.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Funny that! Everyone else in the whole world, as well as everyone on the MINI North America forum, as well as my own experience with the car (2 years, and counting), seem to have had a great experience with the car, so far, but by all means, trust that single questionable source as the basis for your “ruling” on the brand.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    How about a city car that would slot below the hardtop. You know, something close to size of the original mini?

  • avatar
    Verbal

    After reading Car and Driver’s conclusion to their long-term Mini test, I’d say Mini would be better served by focusing on product quality rather than creating yet another derivative to fill a marketing micro-niche.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It’s interesting they’re immediately talking another model derivative, after they just dropped (2-3?) some.

    The Coupe and whatever the other one was.

  • avatar
    zipper69

    They had a cute little Mini pickup back in the day.

    That would slot in the empty space vacated by the Ranger and S10

  • avatar
    mstover

    My 2014 Countryman has been a great car. I now have 55,000 miles on it with no issues. Some claim that the extra ground clearance is silly, but that clearance and the all wheel drive sure makes it a great snow car here in Colorado. I could never have gotten a MINI prior to this model unless I was willing to let it sit all winter and only drive in the summer. Yeah its quirky, but it’s also a lot of fun to drive and has been very dependable…not to mention 31 mpg. I drove the new Clubman the other day and it was even nicer with the more BMW styled interior and BMW engine/transmission. I do think they could do away with the Paceman as it’s a waste.


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