By on October 7, 2019

Compared to the original BMC Mini from back in the Sixties, the modern Mini launched at the dawn of the 21st century was a portly affair, expanded in all directions to accommodate modern people with modern lives. And, compared to that first “new” Mini, the most recent generation of the three-door hatch looks positively ginormous. Somewhere along the way, Mini became not all that small.

Mini wants to correct the bloat, but only to a degree.

Speaking to Autocar, Mini head Bernd Körber said design work had begun on the fourth-generation Mini hatch, adding he’d “love to see the core Mini shrink again.” That vehicle should reach production for 2022 or 2023.

At the other end of the Mini range, the brand would like to see something still larger to tempt those not enamored by Mini’s big boy, the Countryman crossover. Reported recently by Autocar, the Mini brand intends to offer a compact crossover built atop whatever replaces the BMW i3. That means a choice of gasoline, plug-in hybrid, or electric powerplant. It also means a further stretching of what it means to be a Mini.

“The Countryman is a very small SUV,” Körber said. “In the U.S. and China, there are certain needs. We will look at a compact SUV in the next generation. There are lots of benefits with a car like that for urban use. For me, it’s a good match.”

While he admits it “would be hard to imagine” a Mini-branded vehicle the size of a BMW X3 or X5, that’s the way the market’s headed. The model could revive the Traveller name of yore.

But back to the entry-level hatch. The general consensus at Mini is that the current-gen hatch boasts a front overhang that’s unbecoming of the model’s heritage, meaning the model’s successor will take pains to slim down, at least in the front end.

“Hopefully in the next generation, we can make it even more compact, back to where Mini comes from,” Körber said.

Mini’s stable of compact offerings makes for an uneasy fit in the SUV-heavy domestic market, with the “large” Countryman unsurprisingly serving as its sales leader. Through September, however, no Mini model shows a volume increase in the U.S.; the brand as a whole is down 18.8 percent since the start of the year.

[Image: BMW Group]

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16 Comments on “Too Big? Mini Boss Thinks So, Aims to Pare Down Brand’s Smallest Model...”

  • avatar

    I’ve had *three different MINI cars in my driveway: the fun and cheerful 2003 Cooper S, the bucket of bolts 2009 Clubman S, and the boring but competent 2012 Countryman S. The bigger they got, the less fun they were to drive.

    *It was a temporary insanity but no more MINI products for this family. Reliability was all over the place and repair costs were always high. The last time I got some minor work done on the Mustang I was happy to pay $250 for a new tumbler/key part and installation. It was a bargain compared to the repair costs I was paying for a MINI.

  • avatar

    They are big. Last week I saw an original Mini (the first one I’d seen in years, and RHD, to boot) and it reminded me just how “mini” the originals were.

  • avatar

    I know everything is relative, but they are hardly “ginormous”. A 76 Coupe DeVille is ginormous.

    • 0 avatar

      The author provided you with the exact relation for comparison: “compared to that first ‘new’ Mini”. So, you’re correct that it is relative, but they literally spelled out what it is relative to in this context.

  • avatar

    Make it a new model alongside the “normal” Mini, size it really close to the original, and call it the Submini.

  • avatar

    So, instead of a radically overpriced compact, it’ll be a radically overpriced smaller compact? Yeah, that’ll fix it.

    Get a clue, guys…you’re charging upwards of $30,000 for a car with a three-banger. It’s no mystery why sales are down. THAT is the problem.

  • avatar

    I remember looking UP at a Mini from my Audi A3. I think it was the Countryman but sill kind of ironic I thought.

  • avatar

    MINI should have been a model, and they should have used BMC, Austin, Leyland, Morris, etc. as a brand.

  • avatar

    Smart Car II?

  • avatar

    For me, Mini is a big problem. It is very hard to work on them – small bay, everything is packed. And at the same time, they need work often. It is either one or another. Can’t have both

    • 0 avatar

      Ha, R57 Cooper S (N18) here. Changing the broken, leaking chain tensioner (at 40k miles …) was a PITA (you can’t see that it leaks because you have to disassemble so much parts to see the head of the tensioner; so you after you start hearing a rattling noise after starting the engine you know it’s time to fix it); at the same mileage, the blow off valve was also broken (cheap cheap).
      The engine is made from cheap parts, optimzed for cheap assembly, not for maintenance and for more than a 3 years lease.
      Plus, deep distrust for the dealer (e.g. after one service they were too stupid to put on the air filter cover correctly).
      Still a brillant car with far more usable space than e.g. a F-Type, Z4.

  • avatar

    The 2005 Mini Cooper S (R53) I had was sized just right: adequate room in front as long as you’re not in the XXL or bigger category, usable rear seats for up to medium length journeys.

    The equivalent Mini today looks bloated and unattractive, like a high school athlete gone to seed.

  • avatar

    Daughter has a 2018 MINI JCW. She has wanted a MINI ever since she was a young girl. But when the lease is up she’ll get something else because it is just too expensive for what you get.

  • avatar

    I have a current model Mini which I like, but it’s definitely too big; it’s the same width as my 3 series that it replaced, and packaging is terrible compared to, say, the similarly sized Honda Fit, which is ironic given the packaging miracle the original BMC one was marketed as.

    Given the near death of the small car market in the US (what’s this rumor of the next Fit not making it here??), if Mini goes smaller, it would probably help outside the US, but maybe just get left out of the US lineup altogether.

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