No brand is immune from putting out special editions to honor its heritage, and so it is with Mini. The company is launching two – the 2021 Mini Cooper 1499 GT and 2021 Mini Countryman Oxford Edition.
The former is meant to be a homage to the classic Mini 1275 GT, while the latter does not, as far as we know, come with a tweed blazer with elbow patches.
Considering the insanity our consumer markets have seen over the past few weeks, I’m kicking myself for having let my warehouse club membership lapse a year or so ago. I reasoned that there was absolutely no need for me to buy staple foods (or paper products) in bulk quantities. There would be no circumstance short of the apocalypse where my regular supermarket could not adequately fill the needs of my family.
Yeah, I’m kicking myself.
Anyhow, that got me thinking about other things that one could buy in larger packages than normal. Looking at the photos of the 2020 Mini Cooper S Countryman I drove a few weeks ago, it clicked – this is the bulk package Mini Cooper. A fair bit more Mini than the standard three-door hatchback, the Countryman is the Mini for families.
Mini’s Clubman, a vehicle the B&B won’t stop talking about, could undergo significant changes for its next iteration — not just in terms of style, but perhaps in terms of size. If word out of Britain is anything to go on, the Clubman wagon could morph into something larger and more palatable to American audiences.
It could become a crossover.
Like most brands focused on smaller vehicles, Mini is not faring particularly well in the United States and dealers have grown annoyed. Some have even decided to take BMW to court over its handling of the brand, including one owned by former Mini dealer council chair David Peterson.
The allegations? BMW of North America breached its dealership agreement by failing to effectively promote and develop the Mini brand as promised.
Deciding whether or not BMW is truly at fault should prove exceedingly difficult. But Mini is clearly struggling. Over a third of its annual volume goes to the Countryman — its only crossover model. The rest of its sales are broken up between the numerous variations of its iconic small car, which isn’t occupying the “hot segment” at present. With a not-so-diverse lineup and MSRPs better suited to larger vehicles, Mini’s annual sales have been dwindling since 2013 and failed to surpass 45,000 U.S. deliveries in 2018. Unfortunately, 2019 is already on track to be markedly worse.
Mini plans to launch updated versions of its two most commodious models this summer. While many of the refinements are incredibly boring (like a new particulate filter that adheres to new European emission mandates), there are tastier aspects to cherry pick. For example, the Clubman and Countryman gain receive upgraded transmissions in Europe — which hopefully carries over North America, as well.
The change replaces the standard automatic with a seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission. Tragically, that unit has already made its way into the smaller Cooper hatchback and has proven excruciatingly slow in making its way across the ocean. Still, why you would buy a Mini 2-door and not option it with a contrasting roof and manual transmission is beyond us. The impractical little car’s saving grace is its fun factor and visual appeal, and you should probably lean into both if thinking of buying one.
In fact, you can’t thank any of Mini’s vehicles for the brand’s 3.9 percent year-to-date U.S. sales gain, as that figures comes with an asterisk.
Mini’s compact Countryman crossover gets glowing praise in Mini USA’s May sales report, and well it should. The crossover, enlarged for the 2017 model year, pulled in 1,691 sales last month. That’s slightly more than 40 percent of Mini’s total volume in the United States. The model’s sales rose more than 29 percent, year over year, but its year-to-date increase (a whopping 61.9 percent) hides an inconvenient truth. A little math reveals a troubling trend that places the brand’s future in question.
This in’t an unfamiliar place for Mini.
If you’ve come here to read a Mini Cooper S review, I suggest you look elsewhere. What we have here is a vehicle that has very little to do with the small, lightweight and simplistic design of Sir Alec Issigonis’ original Morris Mini concept.
This is nothing more than a disguised BMW X1.
But if you’re currently in the market for a subcompact luxury crossover that blends style with practicality, all while remaining somewhat fun to drive, then the 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman should serve you well.
Notwithstanding the model’s status as a travesty of platform sharing, this vehicle isn’t all that bad to drive.
It’s can be difficult to wipe the smug look of a home field advantage off your face.
Yet in its home English market, the all-new second-generation 2017 Mini Countryman is failing to find favor with British car critics. evo Magazine, never one to pull its punches, published a review of the 2017 Mini Countryman chock full of significant objections.
“Mini’s new SUV has grown up, but it’s lost the Mini fun factor along the way,” Antony Ingram writes. evo says it expects “the BMW-owned company to turn out cars that are fun to drive and show up their rivals as sloppy, dull and character-free.” Yet, Ingram says, “the latest Mini Countryman doesn’t manage that.”
Citing poor value, disappointing acceleration in the hi-po S model, un-Mini-like dynamics, a cabin too twee, and a design that continues “to look ever more contrived,” evo suggests you may prefer — get this — a Toyota C-HR.
Mini’s largest model is about to get the most powerful engine currently available to the brand from its parent company, BMW. The company will offer up its 2018 Countryman as the latest John Cooper Works model, adorned with polarizing paint jobs and a powerful 2.0-liter turbo.
While the idea of a performance crossover might seem like an oxymoron, as well as being a bit impractical — especially considering Mini already makes a quicker and more nimble JCW Cooper with the same engine — there’s a precedent of the concept working.
General Motors is teaming up with IBM to implement Watson’s artificial intelligence so that it can advertise while you are trying to drive. Your dashboard is about to become a billboard.
That, Uber delivers a truckload of beer using a self-driving vehicle, Mini’s Countryman gains size and compatibility with electricity, and Hyundai’s earnings tank… after the break!
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.
Executives at Mini are busy mulling what to introduce next, and it’s increasingly looking like that model will have a trunk.
Unlike a car modeled after a young man wearing a backward ballcap, a sedan is a logical addition to the brand’s future lineup, and comments made to Autocar by Ralph Mahler, vice-president of product development, make it clear there’s a serious business case for a three-box Mini.
When is a BMW not a BMW? Some would say: when it has four wheels. Others will say: when it’s front wheel drive. But here we are. BMW’s smallest crossover has ditched its BMW 3-Series roots for underpinnings shared with the Mini Countryman.
Americans may be surprised to hear that the X1 is not BMW’s first front driver. Neither is it the last BMW with a transverse engine. Our European friends will soon be seeing the 2 Series Gran Tourer — a small 7-seat … minivan. Yes, a BMW minivan. What’s that sound, you ask? Minds blowing.
For purists, the notion of a trio of transverse-engined BMWs prowling around the countryside is an abomination; an affront to everything E46 M3 owners holds sacred.
For the rest of you? It’s no big deal. Seriously.
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- MrIcky Worrying about mileage is for poors.
- ToolGuy A 'true' Volvo (pre Ford Motor Company). I would buy this and drive it for 3 years until I can get one of them 'Chinese' EV things. But I'm offering $1,850 against your $3,700 because you couldn't be bothered to pull it outside for pictures. 😉 And I will stick close to home with this one -- no road trips.In related news (Relevant and Connected!!): My new dishwasher is Swedish -- little outfit called Frigidaire, you may have heard of them. (On order, should be here in March)
- CKNSLS Sierra SLT Let me get this straight-It's OK for GM to make cars in China and ship them here-under a Buick name. But for the Chinese to directly do it is not OK.If the Big 3 had not a deserted sedans/low end of the market they wouldn't have anything to worry about.Yea...makes perfect sense.
- Analoggrotto This must look great in your Tellurides
- Dukeisduke Meanwhile in the EU, they're inviting Chinese manufacturers to build assembly plants there, especially in Italy. FIAT cut back production in Italy from one million vehicles a year, to 750,000, so the Italian government wants the Chinese plants for the jobs they'll create. They've contacted BYD about building a plant, but so far, BYD has only committed to building a plant in Hungary. A second plant in the EU will depend on demand for vehicles.