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The MINI Traveller: MINI’s Swiss-Army Knife

The following report is brought to you via several sources – some of them public and some of them not. The most influential however, Herr26, is an avid commenter on MF and BF and is a well known insider at BMW. Also note that the image is an old rendering based on old information and is likely not entirely accurate.

MINI was born out of many ideologies. One of the most important (and influential) is the idea of being bigger on the inside than the outside. With the upcoming Traveller. MINI intends to take this idea to the max.

Code-named “Spacebox” and known as the Traveller (or even the MINI Activity Tourer) the car will be based on the front wheel drive BMW Compactive Sport Tourer or ‘FAST’. The idea (for both but especially the Traveller) is all about increasing practicality and flexibility for a customer who would have had to to move to another brand because they’ve simply run out of space. Both but especially the Traveller will be the most utility oriented of all of BMW or MINI’s upcoming products based off of the UKL1 platform.

In order to show how the MINI brand can be accomodated with a concept that is less van in appearance – The MINI Traveller will be shown as a Concept car in the not-so-distant future to showcase how innovation is achieved not only from the outside but also from the inside.

The theme for the Traveller is very much “Access all areas” and uses the typical MINI solutions to passenger access such as rear-hinged doors and barn doors which could be configured Clubman style or in a 60/40 opening allowing smaller bags to be stored via a smaller door and vice versa.

BMW believe that MINI, with it’s innovative approach to access, furthers and distinguishes it’s identity from its forthcoming BMW siblings.

As expected the overall look of the Traveller will be very much MINI. The dimensions are compact and the front overhang is kept short. In essence the MINI Traveller is very much like a larger Clubman. It’s internal term “Spacebox” is derived from the spacious interior and also the expanse of glass which gives the MINI Traveller an abundance of light including a larger panoramic roof which allows the interior to look larger than it is. The appearance of the MINI Traveller is very much MINI III (The F56) – raked headlights and larger grille determines the facial features, whilst at the rear they are experimenting with high level taillamps in the C-pillars.

The MINI interior though expands on practicality with additional storage points increasing flexibility but in a unique MINI way. So you will have reverse-hinged storage compartments in some parts of the car.

Look for the Traveller (again the name is not confirmed) to join the MINI family in 2014 or 2015.

Written By: Gabe

  • Dr Obnxs

    I’m just not understanding the micro-fragmentation of all the MINIs out there. But that’s pretty much a guaratee that it will sell very well.

    • Anonymous

      Fragmentation yes. Micro-fragmentation?  With the exception of the new Coupe and Roadster, ironically there doesn’t seem to be much left to suggest anything “micro” about MINI. MINI seems to be breaking with tradition at breakneck speed by becoming less micro and more macro. It has heretofore been, and should remain, a simple, sporty, efficient, niche vehicle and not seek to become a road-going “Swiss Army Knife.”

      Is there a John Deere edition hiding in the wings replete with snow blade, post hole digger, and heavy-duty winch? Perhaps not probable, but from the looks of things looming on the horizon entirely possible, heaven forbid. Each episode of the MINI drama is regrettably becoming less delightfully evocative and more melancholy and pedestrian — if not tragic.

  • Fillmore6

    This concept image offers a visually more pleasing design than the current Countryman. Assuming this could be a replacement for the Clubman, it could be a popular choice. Otherwise, if it would be produced along with a Clubman and Countryman I also don’t see the “micro-fragmentation” of an extended Cooper Hatch. 

    • Rfritz

      +1.

      Much better looking in the concept drawing presented than the Countryman.

      • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

        Don’t fall in love too much. It’s just a rendering.

      • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

        Don’t fall in love too much. It’s just a rendering.

        • Rfritz

          Hey Gabe….

          But a very nice rendering!  :)Hopefully MINI can keep the ugly stick away from it prior to production.

  • Fillmore6

    This concept image offers a visually more pleasing design than the current Countryman. Assuming this could be a replacement for the Clubman, it could be a popular choice. Otherwise, if it would be produced along with a Clubman and Countryman I also don’t see the “micro-fragmentation” of an extended Cooper Hatch. 

  • KLF23

    Please say that those swept back headlights aren’t accurate or indicative of future MINIs!

    • minipuma

      my feelings exactly

  • Nick Dawson

    Gabe – Just to clarify a couple of points, the MINI ‘MAT’ (MINI Activity Tourer) is codenamed F62 not R65. All forthcoming front-drive BMWs and MINIs using the UKL1 platform have a codename beginning with F. The MINI MAT, most likely to be called ‘Traveller’, is based on its BMW sister the BMW ‘FAST’ (Family Activity Tourer). The BMW ‘Compactive Sports Tourer’ you refer to is in fact the BMW ‘CAT’ (Compact Activity Tourer) and sister to the F55 Clubman 2, Both the MAT and the FAST are tall MPV style vehicles, whereas the BMW CAT and the MINI Clubman are low sleek sporting vehicles.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      The first was a typo on our part. Some of the nomenclature really depends on who you talk to. But in general I can offer a big ‘yes’ to everything above. Look for something tomorrow giving a the full rundown on all new MINI products (including the Clubman II).

      • Nick Dawson

        Thank you Gabe, I shall look forward to reading that tomorrow.

        In the meantime, more information is seeping out of Munich about the engines to be used in the new new F-series. We know already that the majority will use the new modular three-cylinder 1.5 litre diesel and petrol engines codenamed N37, and that the maximum power of that engine is said to be around 160bhp. We speculated recently that for the more powerful versions, the Prince II four cylinder 1.6 engine would be used, but that now looks unlikely. Instead, it now seems more likely that the new modular four cylinder N20 2.0 litre engine will used, with the most powerful versions eventually giving out 240bhp and hooked up to four-wheel drive.

        Using the 2.0 litre engine makes a lot of sense, not only because it is built on the same modular construction as the 1.5 litre, but also because the forthcoming larger and heavier MINIs desperately need more torque. Autocar has found in its long term ownership of the Countryman ‘S’ All4, that it seriosly lacks low-end torque.

        • Brian

          Would that mean that the next gen S hatch would come with less power than today, or would the S use the 2.0l 4 along with the JCW ?

        • Nick Dawson

          Almost certainly the N20 2.0 litre four will be used. MINI has already opened the door by introducing the 2.0 litre diesel in the current range of ‘SD’ MINIs, including the R56, for the UK and other European markets.

        • Brian

          Well that’s certainly news. Thanks.

        • IowaM1N1

          Interesting comment on AutoWeek today about MINI 3cyl turbo…

          http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110725/CARNEWS/110729929

          “A BorgWarner turbocharger will be used on a three-cylinder gasoline engine to be installed in BMW’s Mini, said BorgWarner spokeswoman Erica Nielsen in an e-mailed statement.”

  • JAB 67

    I don’t understand why the article claims the rear passenger doors will be ‘rear-hinged,’ i.e., ‘suicide’ doors.  This picture clearly shows rear doors that wil slide, like in a minivan.

    • http://BimmerFile.com Gabriel Bridger

      The image is an old rendering based on old information.

  • JAB 67

    I don’t understand why the article claims the rear passenger doors will be ‘rear-hinged,’ i.e., ‘suicide’ doors.  This picture clearly shows rear doors that wil slide, like in a minivan.

  • Flatlander_48

    Not a bad shape, if it turns out something like this. Definitely sleeker looking that the Countryman. However, are the headlights part of the hood?!?!?! Not that, again?!?!?!

  • Anonymous

    A pickup truck may be just around the corner as MINI appears to be determined to cover all bases and be all things to all people. And although the stated “ideology” rationale may obtain in the Traveller, I do not think spinning off myriad permutations (perhaps mutations is more accurate) of the original Issigonis hatchback is the answer. Sir Alec was a minimalist, thus his designs were simple and straight forward. The inherent complexity of the Swiss Army Knife/”multi-tool” premise is therefore misguided. I don’t think he would have approved of the most recent “growth hormone” generated derivatives. 

    If MINI keeps getting fatter it will need to change its name to MACRO. And if BMW truly wants to preserve the integrity of the original iconic vehicle it should refocus its paradigm or consider creating another brand — the MICRO — to faithfully perpetuate a worthy legend. The MINI micro and the MINI macro. Of course, such fragmentation could irreparably dilute brand identity and undermine its long-term viability. This regrettably appears to be MINI’s travel plan with the Traveller. Simply affixing a MINI nameplate on the bonnet of an Escalade does not make it a MINI. It’s more about scale and simplicity. (see below)

    • Dr Obnxs

      I always wanted a classic Mini pick up. I’m not too tall and I hear legroom is not for the very tall. But Harry, you’re falling into the same trap lots do. While many of the newer MINIs are larger than the R50/R53, they are smaller than the competition for most of the segments served, so it’s more a matter of perspective.

      • Anonymous

        I would wager that your pickup truck wish will be granted soon, Dr. O.  I would also wager that its scale will be at least commensurate with the Countryman.  And yes, appreciation of the “bigger is better” precept is absolutely a matter of perspective and personal preference.  It is also a matter of preserving the authenticity of the brand and as most know MINI is famous for being “mini” while providing relatively remarkable interior space largely because of the transverse engine and no transmission hump.  I recall the BMC Austin America with hydrolastic suspension.  The ad media of the era underscored the attributes just mentioned.  Size is one essential characteristic that should continue to differentiate MINI.  Like VW once did, MINI should continue to “THINK SMALL” and not get swept away by expedient/conventional mediocrity. Be original. Be real. Be true to its roots. That’s all need to do to — Be special.

    • Anonymous

      Havent you seen the miriad of varieties of the original mini? The mini van, mini pickup, mini coupe (made by a different company, but still). The original mini was not alone in the marketplace, they took what they knew worked and tried to milk it for all it was worth with different versions. How is what MINI doing now any different?

      • Anonymous

        Of course I am thoroughly aware of MINI precedents many of which were Austin rather than MINI. And of course it generally behooves manufacturers to spin off as many models as the marketplace can absorb. This is not unusual or necessarily detrimental. It is not variations on a theme that is inherently misguided. It is variations that inexorably fail to communicate the trademark MINI DNA. And that trademark DNA must be immediately and unequivocally evident. In MINI’s case, scale constitutes the definitive evidence. After all, unlike “giant shrimp,” MINI is not an oxymoron. I do not object to model diversity. I’d love to see the MOKE return, but if it grew 50% larger than its progenitor it would not be a MOKE anymore than a row boat is a yacht.

        The other concern I have is to foster concerted evolution of the hatchback, particularly a high-performance motorsport derivative hatchback, before it becomes a permanent resident of the green room. It should remain the shinning star of the the MINI cast and not be upstaged by new spin off models. It should be sufficiently refined and made increasingly more desirable. Nothing is more valuable than an original. MINI is an original. Let’s keep it that way and not allow it to become a latter-day Aztec or Pacer.

      • Anonymous

        Of course I am thoroughly aware of MINI precedents many of which were Austin rather than MINI. And of course it generally behooves manufacturers to spin off as many models as the marketplace can absorb. This is not unusual or necessarily detrimental. It is not variations on a theme that is inherently misguided. It is variations that inexorably fail to communicate the trademark MINI DNA. And that trademark DNA must be immediately and unequivocally evident. In MINI’s case, scale constitutes the definitive evidence. After all, unlike “giant shrimp,” MINI is not an oxymoron. I do not object to model diversity. I’d love to see the MOKE return, but if it grew 50% larger than its progenitor it would not be a MOKE anymore than a row boat is a yacht.

        The other concern I have is to foster concerted evolution of the hatchback, particularly a high-performance motorsport derivative hatchback, before it becomes a permanent resident of the green room. It should remain the shinning star of the the MINI cast and not be upstaged by new spin off models. It should be sufficiently refined and made increasingly more desirable. Nothing is more valuable than an original. MINI is an original. Let’s keep it that way and not allow it to become a latter-day Aztec or Pacer.

        • Flatlander_48

          Note Mini and MINI, they are 2 different things born in different times to suit different conditions and needs.

      • goat

        Good point, but short answer: the classic mini variants were all very small on absolute terms, the current/upcoming MINI variants are small on relative terms (the R60 is a bit smaller than other cute-ute’s, but it is not what one would otherwise term small). 

    • Anonymous

      Havent you seen the miriad of varieties of the original mini? The mini van, mini pickup, mini coupe (made by a different company, but still). The original mini was not alone in the marketplace, they took what they knew worked and tried to milk it for all it was worth with different versions. How is what MINI doing now any different?

    • Anonymous

      Havent you seen the miriad of varieties of the original mini? The mini van, mini pickup, mini coupe (made by a different company, but still). The original mini was not alone in the marketplace, they took what they knew worked and tried to milk it for all it was worth with different versions. How is what MINI doing now any different?

    • Flatlander_48

      “Sir Alec was a minimalist, thus his designs were simple and straight forward.”

      Maybe, but remember he was asked to design a small, economical car…

      • Anonymous

        … and his success in designing a small economical car is what made his famous and the MINI an icon.

  • Aurel

    hmm, i can definitely use the extra interior space so this makes me happy. this render reminds me of the Ford Edge for some reason.

  • Anonymous

    Wondering if we would know it’s a MINI if someone changed the name badge to FIAT?

  • MaxMCS

    I’m glad that thing is a concept rendering- it’s hideous. People think this looks better than the Countryman? Seriously?

    I’m very excited about MINI’s ideas with the Spacebox and I look forward to everything that comes out of MINI Design as it’s usually brilliant. So long as it doesn’t look like that.

    • minipuma

      agree fully….

  • Aurel
  • KPH

    “..reverse hinged compartments in some parts of the car.”  Can’t even envision what or why that would be worthy of mention. Even if this depiction is an old rendering of the idea it’s got good dimensions ie. width. length and height.  With that as a hint of things to come, so far it’s not scary or disappointing like the subjective ugliness of the Countryman. Also looking forward to that Clubman II. Not being a Purist to the mark I don’t have a problem separating the Issigonis car from the MINI/ BMW creation or even the business model they are pursuing. Go ahead, be a financial success, really, I don’t mind. Would prefer though, that what is produced continues to be interesting and unique compared to what we are used to in the US. 

  • MINIguest

    Looks a lot like the shape of the BMW i3 rendering to me. The form suggests increased aerodynamics. What are the chances that BMW i concept will manifest itself in a MINI? 

  • Anonymous

    I’d prefer a model that is a surgeons scalpel than a swiss army knife.

  • MiniMonger

    I do hope that rear horizontal grove behind the rear door suggests rear sliding doors.  If they can somehow offer a stretched version of this with 3 rows i can finally have a bonafide replacement for our Maz5 Micro family hauler.  If they can make it AWD we can safely hit the slopes with it.

  • Love my Mini

    I feel like I’m falling out of love with MINI… 

  • Dr Obnxs

    Now I know why this seems so familiar: The Lifan 320!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifan_320

  • Juan

    Next a Mini truck, maybe.

  • Robertcar33

    Seems like they want to get a close as possible to to making a proper four door MINI wagon, without actually getting there. It will either be a sort-of SUV (Countryman), a sort-of minivan (Traveller), or a wagon without enough doors (Clubman). Great, just keep getting us close to something that is truly useful and not compromised, but just don’t let us get all the way there.

    I like the Traveller idea, though, as above, I’d like for it to just be a longer Mini and not a tall minivan-like thing. The sliding real doors would be great, though rear hinged would work too. From a styling standpoint, I think mini needs to stay as close as possible to the two box standard of MINI generally. I’m not to the point where MINI can stand on a design language of grille design and % smaller than the competition. They need to look like MINIs. 

  • Soda44

    Love it and would trade my Clubman for one

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R50: One & MC Hatch
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3rd Gen MINI
F54: Clubman
F55: Five Door Hatch
F56: Hatch
F57: Convertible
F60: MINI Crossover
F58: Traveller

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