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MINI Needs the Countryman

It’s no secret that we weren’t crazy about the idea of the MINI Countryman when we first heard about it. The very thought of a MINI SUV was repugnant to most enthusiasts, and still is to some. However, now that we’ve driven it, the Countryman has more than won us over. Regardless of where you stand on the fan/hater continuum, there’s one thing we’ve said many times here and on WhiteRoofRadio: MINI needs the Countryman for long-term financial health, and this previous month’s record-breaking sales figures prove it. This Countryman-powered growth is what makes more enthusiast-oriented cars like the MINI Coupé possible. So we were delighted to read that we’re not alone in this opinion.

New Countryman owner and obvious MINI enthusiast Aaron has been chronicling his Countryman ownership experience from order to current motoring adventures. The old guard here at MotoringFile should recognize this enthusiasm, as it’s exactly what many of us did back in the day when we ordered our R50s an R53s. Recently, he pointed to a post by automotive commentary and analysis site Good Car Bad Car, going in-depth along the same lines as our long held opinion that the Countryman is critical to MINI’s long-term growth and success. They do a great job diving into the numbers.

Don’t go confusing the Countryman with the Honda CR-V or even the Volkswagen Tiguan. VW, for instance, sold nearly twice as many Tiguans as MINI sold Countrymen/Countrymans in May. And for every MINI Countryman sold, Honda sold 9.5 CR-Vs last month, and it was a bad month for the CR-V.

But that’s beside the point. MINI doesn’t introduce models intending to take over mass market segments. Anyhow, we’re studying the Countryman’s impact on the MINI fleet. This leads us to discover that, without the Countryman in May, MINI would’ve been down 3.4%. So far this year, the Countryman has helped MINI post an 18.7% improvement. But without the Countryman, MINI’s year-over-year jump is just 6.3%, not nearly as healthy as the overall new vehicle market’s 14% improvement.

The full post is definitely worth a read. Particularly interesting is their breakdown of how the Countryman and the Hardtop models are essentially carrying MINI sales at present, as Convertible and Clubman sales decline. Furthermore, they go on to explore the Countryman’s impact in Canada, where it has to go up against the BMW X1. Big thanks to Aaron for pointing this out and kudos on sharing your enthusiasm with all of us through your blog.

[Source: Good Car Bad Car via Countryman Motoring

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Written By: Nathaniel Salzman

  • BBmykal

    SOLD! ALL4 Cozmic Blue Baby!

  • Edgedc

    Further signs that the Clubman will end up being a “Gen 2 only” model.  I don’t personally consider this a good thing nor a bad thing, as I am not particularly interested in a Clubman nor a Countryman… but I will indeed be shocked if they end up building a new Clubman!

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Get ready to be shocked in 2015.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Get ready to be shocked in 2015.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Get ready to be shocked in 2015.

      • Hoover

        It is interesting how the future of the Clubman has evolved over time.  We knew that they were going to add another Club Door pretty early on, but we also thought it would be built on the R60 platform.  Now we hear that it will be based on the F56, but that they will still be able to add the additional Club Door (slight increase in length?); that they will retain the rear barn doors;  and that they will change the roofline.  I will be interested to see what eventually happens, with it and the R60 based Paceman.  I do not care for the lines (mostly the roof) of the current Clubman, so if I had to choose right now between the two (if the Paceman concept were currently available, that is)  I would go with the Paceman.  That may change once we see the revised roof of the Clubman, as well as the rumored addition of the two Club Doors on the Paceman, which will alter the concept’s clean lines.  Because the Clubman will be based on the F56, I now see a reason to retain both the Pacemen and the Clubman, especially if the Clubman tranforms into model that would compete with some of the station wagons out there.  The US market may not respond in a way that we would hope it would to such a model, but I’m guessing that the global market would eat it up.

      • Aurel

        Is there no Clubman redesign scheduled before then?

        • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

          Actually it should be 2014.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Get ready to be shocked in 2015.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Get ready to be shocked in 2015.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      Get ready to be shocked in 2015.

  • JonPD

    Will never bash anybody for buying a R60, just still will never accept them personally as a MINI. To each their own though.

    • bee1000

      I agree. The Countryman is to MINI Hardtops as the Jeep Compass is to the Wrangler, or the CX-7 is to the Miata. I just hope the hardtops stay MINI regardless of whatever else has to fill the lots to keep the bean counters happy.

  • Tristan

    Countryman is to mini to cayenne is to porshe. Haters are gonna hate but porsche would not be where they are if it wasn’t for the cayenne. Btw, it took a countryman to bring mini back to it’s racing roots. Im a r53 owner who bought it brand new even before the refresh and I even know mini needs the countryman.

    • bee1000

      MINI just as easily have gone racing with the R56. Look at the other cars in the WRC: The Citroen DS3 and Ford Fiesta are based on front-drive hot hatches, not AWD crossovers. Prodrive could have put just about any body in the world on that same chassis.

      • Tristan

        It wasn’t because because it has awd available, the hatches did not meet the size requirements to particapate. Bmw wanted this since the r53 and the r56 is too similiar in size.

        • Tristan

          For referance, the polo in which vw is entering wrc in is 13.02ft and the countryman is 13.48ft

        • Tristan

          The r60 chassis is too long for the hatch “bodies” and prodrive was actually surprise how durable the r60′s are (there’s an article not too long ago on this site).

        • bee1000

          I didn’t know that the R56 wasn’t big enough for WRC. That’s a shame.

  • SFRed MCc

    Although I still prefer the overall design of the MINI Hatch over my MINI Clubman; the more “practical” size and features of the Clubman won me over.  I love the larger “flat” cargo area, and always keep the rear seats folded forward, unless I have extra passengers.  It also increases rear visibility with the headrests out of the way; plus I added a black felt “curtain” (attached by velcro) to conceal the trunk space.

    Wasn’t there talk about the Clubman being replaced by the “Paceman”; which is sort of a Countryman Coupe?  I would consider it if the Clubman was no longer made.

  • bsidon

    I’d love a hi-res copy of that lead image….what a great wallpaper that would be.

  • Anonymous

    The White one looks like it could be the JCW Countryman (note the side skirts and wheels).  That’s the best one I’ve seen yet!

  • Dr Obnxs

    Of course they need it! That’s a given. Doesn’t mean we all have to like it. I was considering one as an upgrade to our clubman, but after driving one for a while, it wasn’t a big enough improvement to justify the change. And I have two kids….

    Anyway, MINI needs more sales, and lower costs. I don’t really think that will take root until the next generation (platform sharing and the like). For some reason, MINI seems to not have paid as much attention to cost containment as they should have for the R series models.

  • Anonymous

    It has proven to make financial sense, and that is most often the pivotal determinant. It nonetheless, arguably adds another straw to the house that MINI built with diminished regard for cultivating its roots by producing a successor to the ’06 GP. Eventually the house may burn down and among the ashes may be a properly scaled, charming hatchback exhibiting the classic design of the progenitor.

    • Tristan

      R60= r&d money… maybe going to that white r56 hatch prototype that has challenge parts. There’s more than meets the eye on that puppy. I do not know if its the truth, but if anything that will be a spiritual successor to the gp

  • Gerarddm

    I must be in the minority, I hate the Clubman barn doors and the reduction in rear visibility. If the door were more like the rear hatch on the old Volvo P1800 ES sportwagon, I’d buy a JCW Clubman in an instant.

    • Aurel

      that rear visibility is just fine if you spend more than 10 minutes in it.

      • b-

        I must agree!  The visibility is just fine out the back of the Clubman!  Try driving an R52 and  tell me about visibility out the back!  I removed my rear view mirror because it was useless.

  • Nick Dawson

    MINI needs Countryman but more importantly BMW needs MINI. BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer estimates that, by 2020, the average CO2 emissions of its new car fleet will be just 117g/km.

    Autocar’s exclusive rendering of the production R61 Countryman Coupe by the way (see photo) is described by BMW insiders to be “remarkably accurate”. R61 will be the last model to be launched using the old R-series platform, before the all new F-series UKL1 platform MINIs go on sale, beginning with F56, in 2013.

  • Les

    MINI Needs the Countryman. MINI also needs to bring the Countryman SD to the states. I know we have talked about why MINI has decided not to in the past, but I felt it needed to be said. I’m sure there are a lot of people that feel the same way.

    • Les

      There is also something very special about one of the Countrymans in the picture. JCW? It has red air intakes on the front. I must have missed something.

      • CraigE

        Those are accessories.  That Countryman appears to have the JCW aero kit.  I’ve seen that on an all black Countryman with the pure red color line and pure red cloth/leather seats.  That is a hot combination.

  • Anonymous

    I fear that one day MINI may decide to hatchet the hatchback entirely from the model lineup given the possibility that the Coupe, Roadster, and Countryman perform better in the marketplace. Granted. MINI/BMW must seek to increase profit one way or another. If MINI decided to make “mini” Sprinter delivery vehicles, pickup trucks, and flying cars I would have no objection as long as it keeps its eye on the iconic ball that made the company. The hatchback should always be revered, preserved, and refined to make it “the” most desirable, sought-after, and best selling model. I don’t see that happening. The MINI D and MINI D JCW along with a street version Challenge car could have positive impact on aggregate sales while perpetuating the priceless identity of the brand.

  • Anonymous

    I fear that one day MINI may decide to hatchet the hatchback entirely from the model lineup given the possibility that the Coupe, Roadster, and Countryman perform better in the marketplace. Granted. MINI/BMW must seek to increase profit one way or another. If MINI decided to make “mini” Sprinter delivery vehicles, pickup trucks, and flying cars I would have no objection as long as it keeps its eye on the iconic ball that made the company. The hatchback should always be revered, preserved, and refined to make it “the” most desirable, sought-after, and best selling model. I don’t see that happening. The MINI D and MINI D JCW along with a street version Challenge car could have positive impact on aggregate sales while perpetuating the priceless identity of the brand.

  • Nick Dawson

    MINI needs the Countryman but, more importantly, BMW needs MINI. EU economy regs and the downsizing trend are pushing the market towards smaller cars. BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer estimates that, by 2020, the average CO2 emissions for the entire BMW Group new car fleet will be just 117g/km.

  • Dr Obnxs

    MINI is not going to the past. The 2 door 4 seat coupe will never go away, but I’m sure that we’ll see lots of variants over time (much like BMW has a gazillion versions, but the 3 series is still there….)

    Those that just want some form of the R50/R53 as the “core mini, true to it’s roots” and think that cars like this can make a brand and anything else is an automotive sin, are sniffing glue. the best one can hope for is that as the brand evolves, that they always offer SOMETHING that is in the form of the 2 door/4 seat format that has been the mainstay of MINI-ness through time.

    I really don’t care what they offer, as long as they increase the focus on quality, value, and cost-effective sportiness.

    I know it’s overused, but the Porsche comparison cannot be overstated. Thier SUV sells like hotcakes, performes really well, and allows them to make things like the Boxter Spyder, as sublime a driving experience as any I’ve ever had! Panamera is the same type of “automotive sin” to the Porsche purists, but they sell, they perform, and they ARE part of Porsche.

  • Dr Obnxs

    MINI is not going to the past. The 2 door 4 seat coupe will never go away, but I’m sure that we’ll see lots of variants over time (much like BMW has a gazillion versions, but the 3 series is still there….)

    Those that just want some form of the R50/R53 as the “core mini, true to it’s roots” and think that cars like this can make a brand and anything else is an automotive sin, are sniffing glue. the best one can hope for is that as the brand evolves, that they always offer SOMETHING that is in the form of the 2 door/4 seat format that has been the mainstay of MINI-ness through time.

    I really don’t care what they offer, as long as they increase the focus on quality, value, and cost-effective sportiness.

    I know it’s overused, but the Porsche comparison cannot be overstated. Thier SUV sells like hotcakes, performes really well, and allows them to make things like the Boxter Spyder, as sublime a driving experience as any I’ve ever had! Panamera is the same type of “automotive sin” to the Porsche purists, but they sell, they perform, and they ARE part of Porsche.

  • Chilly

    Hi Nick,

    I hope so because I just LOVE that rendering.  Fingers crossed!  :-)


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MINI Model Cheat Sheet

1st Gen MINI
R50: One & MC Hatch
R52: All 1st Gen MINI Convt.
R53: MCS Hatch
2nd Gen MINI
R55: Clubman
R56: Hatch
R57: Convertible
R58: Coupe
R59: Roadster
R60: MINI Crossover
R61: MINI Crossover Coupe
3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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