Calm Down. MINI Isn’t Building a Minivan.


This morning, Jalopnik’s Ray Wert posted an impassioned plea to BMW and MINI not to follow through with a minivan model rumored by sources here and here. These sources are asserting that the MINI “SpaceBox” R65 model will be some sort of small people carrier, or what we in the states call a minivan. Is this the case? Let’s look deeper.

As we’ve previously reported on MotoringFile, the MINI SpaceBox model is part of a larger strategy within MINI to make the most of its two platforms: the R56 hatch platform and the larger R60 Countryman chassis. Is there a minivan in those plans? Our sources say no. What do we expect? As we’ve reported in the past, MINI could possibly expand the Countryman platform into an off-roader variant, a two-door, and what we’ve known as the SpaceBox. That vehicle will not be minivan. Rather, it will be a taller, 4-door MINI road car without any of the Countryman’s crossover posture. Think of it more like a BMW 5-series GT, or a VW Golf Plus, but with MINI’s iconic mojo.

MINI SpaceBox?

Check out the full MINI SpaceBox section here on MotoringFile for all the details on what we know so far, and stay tuned for developments as we find out more in the coming months.

  • Jon

    Whoa! You guys are scaring us!

  • Caine Langford

    I want those wheels on the bottom image!

  • Paul

    I believe the folks at Mini USA are on record saying they wouldn’t produce anything larger than the Countryman. That would certainly leave room for the SpaceBox concept, though I don’t see how the SpaceBox would offer anything to a buyer over the Countryman (marginally more headroom?), so that would seem like an odd strategy as well.

  • Nathaniel Salzman
    I don’t see how the SpaceBox would offer anything to a buyer over the Countryman

    I think it would offer a lower ground clearance and different suspension setup that would give that kind of car a more car-like personality. That and it would likely have a different enough look to it that some folks might find it more appealing than the Countryman. It’s all speculation at this point, obviously.

  • Crashton

    I think this is the super secret Zeppelin project. ;~)

  • dr

    I just want to use this opportunity to point out that there is no minivan offered in the u.s. market. (except maybe the mazda5) I recently saw the new sienna in person and was stunned at it’s size. It was a full size van!..nothing mini about it….and the same can be said for virtually every other so called “minivan” on the market!

  • grueinthebox

    I’m turned off by the SUV posture of the Countryman, but think I could talk the wife into a Spacebox if it’s available when it comes time to trade in her 2010 Rogue… She’s a sunroof fan and I think the panoramic sunroof might do it for her.

  • robble

    OMG.. I literally screamed a bit when I saw the picture – even after reading the text first.

    Dear god NO.

  • Gabe

    OMG.. I literally screamed a bit when I saw the picture – even after reading the text first.

    I showed this to a MINI designer today and she did the same thing.

  • Matt “Dr Obnxs” Richter

    What’s in a name? So it’s not a minivan… It’s a tall four-door with more room after the rear seat than a normal car. Two things would make it a “minivan”: One door that slides, and removable seating….

    The rest of the world has quite a nice range of really small utility vehicles (I don’t really know what to call them, there is no US equivalent). Could the “Space Box” fit into that? Seems like an odd fit, as those are more business oriented vehicles where a premium offering doesn’t really fit the use case….

    But who’s surprised that MINI is looking for more ways to use the chassis?


  • Herr26

    No way will MINI offer something like that. MINI are investigating new concepts but with MINI it is more about offering a twist on traditional convention. Whilst Spacebox will move to A MINI with more Space, it wont go over 4 meteres in length. That is the MINI brand rule. New concepts that will not extend over 4 metres.

    The Spacebox has taken a bit of a re-direction towards the Clubman. That now the Spacebox and Clubman are being engineered together with the purpose of using the Spacebox as an extended Clubman , in the same way how the Countryman based MINI Activity Coupe is being devised to offer two doors and four doors but using the rear hinged format to give both cars a unique prespective on the market.

    MINI City Concept will be previewed at Next years’s Geneva Autoshow and will showcase the design language for the next generation MINI family. Current R56 based Mules are , in a few weeks about to begin public testing but currently undergoing internal evalaution first. And soon we shall see MINI Coupe prototypes that should be identifiable by their coloured camouflage. MINI coupe teasers will be commencing by Christmas in a global campaign, prior to the World Premiere @ Geneva in March 2011. MINI Activity Concept will be previewed as a Concept at next years Frankfurt IAA. It is aimed at the style conscious segment and aimed to seriously undercut the Range Rover Evoq in terms of market price.

  • Roger

    Hmmm … well quite frankly I think the mini-van concept is not that bad looking – not that I would trade my R53 S for it. But very European and I find it no more offensive than the Clubman whose look I still cannot quite stomach. Yes the Clubman has heritage, but I still cannot get past the lines of that car. Now I do like the 2nd vehicle shown – very nice lines, beautiful wheels and I like its “snout” much more than the Countryman’s.

  • Ian F

    Too bad… I’d be more likely to buy a MINI “minivan” than the totally useless Countryman or the equally uselss SpaceBox concept.

  • CV

    I have to say that I don’t think that the “MINIvan” in the opening photo looks at all bad; the family resemblance to the Countryman is clear. I’m assuming that it would (theoretically) be about the size of a Mazda 5. While most commenters here don’t like it and it probably wouldn’t do well here in North America, I bet it would sell reasonably well in the European market. The one possibility for it to be successful here in the States would be for it to emulate the Honda Element sort of vehicle, and it’s maybe a little late to try to enter that market – except that isn’t that what they’re doing with the Countryman? Just my 2-cents’ worth.

  • Anonymous

    I wish Mini would make trucks again.