We know that BMW has grand plans for its smallest brand. MINI has gone from one shape and three models to three cars and well over a dozen models worldwide.
In 2001 BMW debuted the R50 MINI Cooper and MINI One to great acclaim. However tucked away in much of the press coverage of the launch was the fact that BMW didn’t expect to even break even on the development and launch costs over the course of the models life-cycle. The problem were economies of scale and the fact that the MINI was a bespoke platform designed from the ground up to be shared with nothing else on the market (save for the Chrysler developed engine). The writing was on the wall even then. BMW needed multiple variants of the MINI to make the brand stand on its own financially.
Fast forward eight years. MINI has successfully launched it’s second generation hatchback and along the way added a convertible and the long wheel base clubman – all based on the core R56 platform (itself based on the R50). But BMW is just getting started.
The 2010 MINI Countryman Crossover
The next MINI will indeed be the R60 crossover. While the debut has been pushed back slightly we still expect this
car product to appear in the first part of 2010 with European and US sales starting in early spring. Without going into too much detail (you can naturally find that in our R60 section) look for MINI’s first all-wheel drive system, a range of familiar and not-so-familiar engines powering the crossover. Four doors and optional five seats will make this the largest MINI ever produced.
The Countryman, like the original MINI, will feature a relatively bespoke platform. However, even with the R60 sharing components with the R55/R56, BMW intends to maximize the development costs of the new platform but spinning off several variants.
The MINI Moke Concept
The first of these will be shown in concept form sometime in 2010 most likely. However we believe production of this product has been pushed back in favor of the Roadster and CoupÃ© concepts and eventual production cars. When the concept finally does surface (sources are telling us Detroit 2010) we expect it to resurrect the Moke name and feature a stripped down interior and an exterior devoid of a full roof. Imagine a small version of the four door Jeep Wrangler and you have an idea of what’s in store.
The MINI MPV Concept
Also on the drawing board is an R60 derived four door GTI type of vehicle. Lower to the ground and without the faux off-road baggage that the Countryman will be saddled with, the SpaceBox concept (as it is called internally) is intended to move the MINI brand into more mainstream waters and is aimed primarily at the European market (though still should make it to the US).
There are several other concepts sources have told us about (a sedan and a small truck to name two) but we believe what is mentioned above will have the greatest chance of making it to the showroom floor and possibly even production.
The 2012 MINI Roadster/CoupÃ©
As we predicted last spring, MINI is indeed going ahead with production plans for the Roadster and CoupÃ© models. MINI Design is working (through the night we expect) to finalize production versions of the cars that won’t differ outwardly to much from the concepts. Look for MINI to eventually offer Cooper, Cooper S and JCW versions of both.
The 2013 MINI Hatchback
It’s hard to believe but in four years we expect MINI to roll out an entirely new replacement for the R56. Details are very sketchy but we expect engines to generally get more efficient and for some to even lose a cylinder. As we’ve reported BMW is planning on sharing at least one three cylinder petrol powerplant (if not more) with this next generation MINI. It’s much less clear when it comes to the future of the current R56 engine range. Codenamed “Prince” the current engines were designed by BMW but built in cooperation with PSA. As has been recently reported, PSA is keen to continue the partnership and gain more access to BMW’s engine technology. However it’s unclear what BMW would gain from a continued partnership knowing that they have stated that they intend to share as much of the next generation MINI development costs with other BMW models. That of course include engines.
The MINI Vision Concept
Once again here’s where things get a little hazy. We’ve had several sources tell us recently that MINI is in the initial stages of creating their own “Vision Concept” similar to BMW’s in concept but thoroughly different in form. We expect Project i related technology and a smaller form factor but beyond that we don’t know much about this concept.
Here’s what we know in terms of launch dates so far (each links to its section on MF):
- R55 Clubman (2008)
- R56 Hatchback (2007)
- R57 Convertible (2009)
- R60 Crossover (2010)
- R?? Speedster (late 2011)
- R?? CoupÃ© (late 2011)
- R?? Hatchback (late 2013)
Here’s what we don’t know:
- R6? SpaceBox
- R6? Moke
As always stay tuned to MF for more details as we get them.