It's well known that BMW and Peugeot will be developing the next generation of MINI engines. But the news from this month's Roundel (the BMW Car Club of America” monthly magazine) eludes to more collaboration:
“Insiders say that PSA (Peugeot/Citreon) could provide the platform for the next MINI. BMW was forced to completely re-engineer the current “shoebox” when it discovered, about 18 months before it's promised intro date, that the car is had entrusted to Rover to develop was a total disaster. The final result was possibly the best enthusiast's car for the money ever built-but because of the comprehensive emergency surgery required to revive it, the MINI is possibly the least profitable car BMW has built in recent history. Borrowing a chassis would be a tremendous savings in development costs and help insure that the next-generation MINI generates the returns for which the company is famous.” (The Roundel)
I think BMW is walking down a risky path if it is indeed planning on borrowing a chassis from Peugoet & Citreon for the next MINI. When you talk about what sets the MINI apart from other small sports cars the conversation inevitably leads to the amazing chassis. Sure the current MINI shouldn't have been made so well. Sure it's over engineered for even a $30,000 car. But it's resulted in a rare situation in automobiles and marketing where something not only lives up to it's branding and enthusiast hype – but surpasses it. BMW needs to only look at the current VW Beetle to see what happens when a highend small car with no real engineering prowess starts to age… sales fall flat.
I've heard this rumor before. BMW basically gave up on this generation of the MINI in terms of making a profit. They figured a car so spectacular would help build a brand and a loyal following. They were 100% correct with that assumption. But I think if they cheapen the car and get rid of the wonderful chassis or the z-link rear suspension they will lose more than a predetermined percent of the customers. They will lose the respect of the auto public at large.
That being said the Roundel doesn't have a perfect track record and isn't always spot on with their info… so I wouldn't place any bets at this point.