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.

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