Mini Makes a Name Misnomer With Larger Countryman

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mini continues to inflate the size of its vehicles, and the redesigned Countryman is expected to be the biggest yet.

The company’s global head, Sebastian Mackensen, tells Automotive News Europe that the new vehicle will grow in the same way as the second-generation Clubman. He also claims the next Countryman will be more SUV-like, and for a very specific reason.

“The passenger car segment over the last two years is not growing like the truck segment but actually shrinking, and that is where we compete,” Mackensen explained.

The prominent factor here is size. Mini initially stretched the Cooper by 9.4 inches to create the Clubman, accommodating people who may want to sit in the back without breaking their legs off. But the car eventually grew by an additional foot in length, adding rear doors, 4.6 inches of girth, and 356 pounds in its second generation. A similar increase in volume would place the Countryman in Ford Escape territory — which wouldn’t exactly make it a petite vehicle.

But the reasoning here is sound.

The Escape was the second-best selling Ford in America last year. Competing in the crowded, growing crossover market has everything to do with why Mini is plumping up the Countryman. Sales of the Cooper have improved since the Clubman variant grew in size. North American sales for the car were up by 11,008 units in 2015 from a slump in the previous year. During the same period, Countryman sales dropped by 6,565 vehicles.

But the Ford Escape sold extremely well last year — 290,362 more than both Mini models. Mini wants its Countryman to soak up sales in that segment as soon as possible.

The next-generation Countryman is expected to debut next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A plug-in-hybrid version follows soon after, with the possibility of a future John Cooper Works performance variant.

[Image: BMW Group]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Oct 14, 2016

    Since BLMH had The Maxi as well as The Mini it's not too big a stretch (odds are it's copyrighted by some sleazebag). Whole range could be: MINI - MIDI - MAXI

  • 05lgt 05lgt on Oct 14, 2016

    This makes sense if you think of Mini as a separate entity from BMW. Since they're not a separate maker, but rather a sub mark/branding/marketing/sales channel thing there's no need for a brand that owes it's existence and success to smallish (looking) cars to chase sales across the whole spectrum of personal vehicles. Maybe they should make a full size pickup too? Ford sells even more of those. Nonsense. Someone wants to grow his own fiefdom and bonus package and doesn't care what it does to shareholder value.

  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.
  • Lou_BC Jay Leno had said that EV's would be good since they could allow the continued existence of ICE cars for enthusiasts. That sentiment makes sense. Many buyers see vehicles as a necessary appliance.
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