MINI Crossover to Seat Only Four in US

Thanks to US regulations governing rear seat width, MINI will be forced to exclude the rear bench seat option for the US market. In its place will be two individual seats (somewhat replicating the front seats as we saw in the Beachcomber concept) that move fore and aft up to 13 inches. The upside is that this gives the MINI crossover one of the most comfortable seat seating layouts on the market. It also standardizes the center rail which we think will be one of the best attributes of the MINI crossover interior. The downside of course is, if you’re in the US market, your limited to a seating capacity of only four.

Of course there is always the hatch.

  • that.guy

    And what do we like so much about the center rail, exactly?

  • JonPD

    No surprise on the news about the 4 seat only arrangement. Still think between a four seat Mini SUV and the 1 series SUV with five seats most small families would likely go with the second. As much as many people have called for four doors think just adding another door isn’t going to be a game changer.

  • a 5th person would’ve been very cramped in the back anyways I think it’s fine but I do hope they bring lots of option with the center rail.

  • Bor

    That could be a deal killer for us. We got 2 small kids and would use the 3rd person seating option for an occasional visiting relative.

  • Gabe, do you have any indication that those rear seats would be able to fold flat, or are they going to be conventional buckets like the fronts?

  • MINIme

    This IS a deal killer for me. MINI and/or aftermarket suppliers listen very carefully… construct a bench seat utilizing OEM fabric options that will be an easy swap. Seating for 5 (no matter how cramped) is essential!!!

  • dr

    seating for 5 adults is mostly irrelevant. What is important, is that there is seating for children. I don’t care if its cramped for 3 adults, I do care about placing 3 or even 4 kids in the backseats. This is a big problem for the potential market of the R60.

    Almost every piece of news makes me less interested in the car. We will be replacing the “family sedan” in the near future. and MINI has given me little indication that the R60 will meet the needs of a family.

  • CraigE
    That could be a deal killer for us. We got 2 small kids and would use the 3rd person seating option for an occasional visiting relative.

    Those two small children would need to be in either safety seats or booster seats. Those are so bulky you would not be able to fit a 3rd person in the back even with a bench.

    While this is a much bigger vehicle than the 2-door MINI hatchback, it is still a tiny vehicle by USA standards, at 4 meters long. The hatch is 3.71 meters long. That’s a difference of about a foot. For comparison the Mazda3 hatchback is 4.5 meters long which is about 20 inches longer than the 4 meter length quoted for the Crossover.

    I’m just hoping to inject a bit of perspective here. People seem to be hearing SUV and thinking that MINI is making something like a CR-V(4.55 Meters) or a Rav4(4.62 Meters). Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Then what are they making? Each “divergence” from the standard market offering in the 4 door small sport ute lops of another group of potential buyers.

    And yes, Minis are shorter than a lot of cars, but they are not a lot narrower than a lot of cars. This seems to me to be a brain faart of massive proportions. Seems that US seating for 5 wasn’t on the requirments list during design…. It really should have been. Bummer, really.


  • I hope those seats can fold flat. Otherwise, the utility of a 4 door hatch is lessened with a novelty seating arrangement. Really, my boys do not need seats that move fore and aft 13 inches.

  • goat

    Dr obnxs calls it right on the critical dzn dimension for rear seats being width not length. This vehicle is very much a CRV and RAV4 competitor, it is shorter but it is same width or wider and as tall or taller. Just like the hatches are shorter than other market entries but still compete with GTI, Mazda3, etc to many shoppers.

    Having said that, a 4 seater is far more appealing and “individual” than a bench seat – it is a crucial way for MINI to differentiate this from competing CUVs and sell it as a premium entry (think Passat CC versus regular Passat). While some wish for a (small, highly compromised) rear bench, a greater number of buyers will be drawn to the “4 buckets” as a sporting design detail that provides equal comfort and status for front and back seat passengers – which is exactly what MINI had in mind, given the brand’s product positioning. I think this decision was a good one for MINI and look forward to seeing the R60 production-release design.

  • MINIme

    I previously owned a 2001 Jeep Wrangler and was able to put 3 kids in the back, including 2 car seats by simply adding a 3rd seat belt. As you may or may not be aware, Jeep is now producing a 4-door version of the Wrangler that has honest-to-goodness seating for five. They listened to their customers!!

    In order to get the most from the Crossover’s utilitarian nature, a 5 seat option is imperative. An option for the bucket seats or a bench in the rear that can be configured when building the car solves the dilemma. Do you hear me MINI??

  • MINIme

    I would have purchased a VW Passat CC if it had the bench seat in the rear. As it is, the car is simply not functional for larger families and doesn’t appeal to enough drivers to warrant its existence.

  • dr
    Having said that, a 4 seater is far more appealing and “individual” than a bench seat – it is a crucial way for MINI to differentiate this from competing CUVs

    they are going to differentiate themselves right out of the market. being different for the sake of being different is just stupid, short term marketing driven focus. being different by bringing unique yet functional innovations is a key to success. the accessory rail for example makes alot of sense as described in the video….its versatile. Bucket seats in the rear is a novelty best left strictly in the beachcomber concept

  • goat

    The functional rail and bucket seats are linked by design. If you like the rail idea, then you need to learn to love the bomb and by bomb I mean bucket seats. 😉

    The 4door wrangler mentioned above – that is a HUGE vehicle. It is larger than all CUVs and essentially a full size SUV masquerading as a Wrangler replacement. I love the previous gen Wranglers but the current model is absurd and could only come from a company as compromised as Chrysler…

  • This really is sad news. Was looking forward to possibly going after the Crossman but the 4 individual seats are a deal breaker for me as well. It is really hard to grow a family AND stay in the MINI family … shame. Why is it that families with kids are forced to buy boring vehicles if they can’t afford more than one car?

  • hardingsan
    Gabe, do you have any indication that those rear seats would be able to fold flat, or are they going to be conventional buckets like the fronts?

    any word on this? i would think it very silly to offer a hatch-type vehicle without fold-flat rear seats, but i’ve never seen a bucket seat that could fold flat.

  • Evan

    This is really dissapointing. The middle seat is perfect for car seats. I’m not looking to transport 5 adults, but an infant, then a toddler and have the option to bring along one more.

    Without 5 seats, I don’t know when I’ll be buying a MINI again…. which is really sad for me. I guess I’ll just hope BMW brings the next gen 3er wagon here or that the X3 is actually atractive and not priced beyond the moon. The X1 is out due to an ugly exterior.

    I’ll always have my 2004 Cooper. But MINI would have liked me to be purchasing a new product and not another BMW in the future….

  • MINIme

    Goat, Pay attention and get your facts straight before posting.

    I wrote that I put 3 kids in the back of a 2-door Wrangler back in 2001. The every bit as capable 4-door Unlimited was not even in production yet. And I can testify that it is NOT a Wrangler poser, but in fact, the real deal.

    In case you haven’t been paying attention, Jeep has survived for decades with various owners by evolving to accommodate its customer base while staying pretty true to the mission of building tough, go-anywhere vehicles. They have listened to the needs/desires of customers and have, therefore, continued to be in demand. Let’s see… diesel option (check), V-8s (check), room for 5 (check), off-road ability (check), appealing styles (check). I am not defending the brand. Hell, I am not even a big fan, but give credit where it is due.

    All I am saying is MINI should take a lesson and listen to the prospective customer. I am not suggesting that the Crossover/Beachcomber grow to gargantuan proportions, only that customers have the OPTION for a rear bench seat. MINI can keep the interior rail system and offer a nice roof rack system as an option.

    If MINI needs 4 bucket seats to differentiate their SAV/CUV offering, then they have missed the point!

    Another thing… I would NOT consider a BMW X1 or X3 or wagon as an option to the Crossover. As a former BMW owner, the line just no longer appeals to me. Even though MINI is owned by BMW, I see the two brands as 100% mutually exclusive. Apples and oranges really.

    MINI, read these posts and listen.


    Has nyone read the caption underneath the picture? “Thanks to US regulations governing rear seat width, MINI will be forced to exclude the rear bench seat option for the US market.” We are all somewhat to blame here in the U.S. because we asked for safer cars and these are they types of regulations we get. You cannot blame MINI necessarily. This will be offered with the ability to carry three in the back just not in the U.S. Its too bad though as Europe will have this option like the Clubman does.

  • goat

    Hi MINIme, or – based on your curt tone – should I call you “Teach”? ;). That’s great that some customers like yourself are clamoring for bigger and more practical MINIs. Just remember that other just-as-legitimate MINI customers are asking for different emphasis from the brand’s models. Is your request for a 4 door Wrangler more legitimate than mine to keep the cars as small as is possible, and as sporting to drive as possible? Incidentally, must all your vehicle shopping needs be done at the MINI “department store” so BMW should create vehicles that meet every permutation of customer needs – even ones entirely at odds with the brand?

  • lavardera

    I wonder of the X1 is going to be physically bigger to have enough width for a rear bench?

  • MINIme

    All I am saying is if MINI is going to produce a less than mini MINI then at least make it practical. If they are going to stray away from what makes a MINI mini in the first place (they did when they introduced the new MINI…) then give us something to work with. Is that too much to ask?

    With regard to my request… First of all I am not requesting a 4-door Wrangler. If that’s what I wanted I could go buy one from a company who listened to its customers (the ones who wanted to enjoy open air driving with a couple of extra passengers). Sounds practical to me.

    Don’t forget, I was a MINI customer, myself, who purchased an R53(S) and have regretted every single day since I sold it. The fact is, I would like to have another one, as well as a classic Mini. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like to be able to allow my entire family to have a “motoring” experience with me. It is a real drag to have kids whining because we can’t take the MINI across town because they won’t safely or legally fit!

    My apologies for the “tone”. I just want folks who enter a debate to be educated on the subject matter, as I am.

    Your wants/needs/requests are just as legitimate as mine, but MINI already has already produced small, sporting cars for your consumption and will continue to do so. With the Coupe and the Roadster, aficionados of small sporting cars are getting an extra rush. Why can’t I get mine?

    If companies don’t evolve, they die. MINI is evolving. Deal with it or move on. With regard to the “brand”, MINI decides what the brand includes and in the minds of folks much more astute than you or me, they have concluded their is room under the umbrella for a Crossover. I just hope they don’t screw it up…

    By the way, who said a drive in an SUV/SAV/CUV, etc., can’t be “sporting”? Some of my best driving experiences were in vehicles designed for off-road use traveling at speeds less than 5 MPH. Buy what you want and drive what you want and allow me to do the same. And those needs can change, as they always do.

    Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

  • goat

    Understood MINIme… thanks for clarifying and I think you and I are actually pretty close in what we want to see from MINI. 🙂

    By the way, I agree that a CUV can be sporting… I just want to avoid sliding down the slippery size slope any further than we already have in just a few short years since the brand relaunched in 2002. In other words, we are getting the R60, no doubt about it, but let’s keep it focused and sporting. I can already foresee that some will complain it doesn’t have a larger trunk, or more legroom, or is expensive vis a vis the Japanese CUV or a Dodge Nitro, etc. These people want to cross-shop on equal footing against larger and much more “traditional” (i.e., for the most part, very “non-sporting”) CUVs and even SUVs… I counter that these people need to be told “sorry, go to Toyota / Honda / Dodge and buy what you crave so badly, we don’t do it that way at this company.” In other words, BMW at some point, while respecting customer input, needs to say “thank you for your suggestions, but we know better because we have a clear idea of the brand’s values and this particular model’s mission”.

    Hope you get back into a MINI soon… as an ex-R53 owner it must evn tougher seeing all this exciting / frustrating MINI news coming thick and fast!

  • illegalhunter

    Them fat assed Americans , lol

  • Nomad5326

    Why can’t they just put in a 2 person bench then with a folding center console? Just don’t call it a 3 person rear bench. The bench is so much more pactical and would still allow someone to put a carseat in the middle w/a added seatbelt (self install). Mini is missing the mark here.