Exclusive: MINI to Introduce Next Generation Five Door Hatch


The MINI has faced one consistent criticism here in its largest market for ten years. Despite it being a core brand attribute, many people in North America can’t get past the size of the standard MINI hatch. It’s seen as unsafe, uncomfortable and most of all simply not practical. The first two can quickly be disproven by simply experiencing the car in person and reading about its impressive safety certifications. But getting someone who is used to four door sedans to believe that a MINI hatch can be practical for them is harder to do. So MINI is developing a secret weapon for the next generation hardtop aimed squarely at markets such as the US. The internal code-name is F55 and, if it is received as hoped, it could make a MINI seem practical for an entirely new group of potential owners.

The solution is simple. According to sources familiar with the situation, MINI will create a version of the next generation hatch with 5-doors. Using the next generation hardtop 2-door (internally knowing as the F56) as its basis, MINI will shorten the front doors and add two small, conventionally opening doors behind them. This will be much like the Countryman’s layout, but in a smaller package. Those rear doors will be on the small side, but still more usable then you might expect. Sources are telling us that the rear doors will extend from the trailing edge of the front doors all the way into the rear wheel arches and up to the gas cap on the right side of the car. The F55 will have four sets of standard door handles opening everything up.

Speaking of those door handles, we can also expect a redesign of the pull handles that have been around since 2001. Stylistically they will be similar, but instead of an internally pivoting latch, the entire handle will pivot outward from the front end, much like the mechanism found on newer BMWs. So no more door handles freezing solid and useless in the dead of winter.

Inside we’ve been told to expect rear legroom to increase about 5 cm as compared to the next generation hardtop (which will be roughly the same as the current generation). F55 will offer a three person bench seat (like the Countryman and Clubman in some markets) likely as standard.

Stylistically the front of the car will be identical to the new F56. However the rear will be slightly raked as the extra 5 cm of legroom will push the boot out slightly. Think of shape as almost a fast-back. In total the F55 will likely be at least 5 cm longer than the F56 hatch which will be approximately the same size in length (give or two a cm or two). On the roof the R55 will feature a more subtle version of the Clubman’s “dune-line” roof profile to further distinguish the three and five door hatches.

So how should we picture this car? Think of the F55 as a four-door MINI hardtop similar to how VW offers both a two and four-door Golf. MINI will even likely market the R55 simply as “the four-door MINI.” It won’t be taking the place of the iconic two door hardtop, but it will be offered for those who want a small MINI with just a bit more practicality. A little practicality wouldn’t hurt the hardtop for many. Have you ever tried to get a child seat in the back of the hatch or perhaps a dog in and out? Then you’ll know why the four-door F55 may go along way in helping Americans overcome their fears of impracticality. For the rest, the original hatchback form factor of the two door MINI will remain as well.

Or thought of another way, it’ll bring some of the Countryman’s gains in practicality, but with fewer of its SUV-bred performance compromises. Imagine being able to more easily haul passengers, kids or pets, but retaining all of the smaller MINI’s handling and lightweight efficiency. That’s a package we can get excited about.

What about the Clubman? Don’t worry MINI still has plans for the “other” MINI. But expect some tweaks to the formula in an effort to make the next generation Clubman (dubbed internally as the F54) a bit more dynamic.

  • McRaven

    So in 2014, consumers will have a choice between a 2-door and a 4-door hatchback?

  • Rakey

    So MINI won’t be so mini.

    I get whole it’s a brand thing, I’ve been preaching this since launch too. But the hatch getting bigger, more conventional, just takes it out of its unique spot in the market.

    If I wanted a Golf, I’d buy a Golf

    • lavardera

      Go back and read – no bigger. Just 4 doors.

  • JonPD

    I have no issues at all with this, fits the brand much better than the R60 does.  

  • Heiko Schroeder

    theres one obvios reason why only americans have such a problem: In the study, “The Fat of the Land” the following was found. Mr. Fumento took the measure in all five continents and concluded: “The Americans are now the fattest people in the industrial world.” They lie at an average weight of their adult population of 162 pounds at the top – from the southern Europeans (156 pounds), Central Europeans (147), Africans (137) and Asians (128).

    • Bob Hayhurst

      Thank you for your opinion (backed up by a “study”, no less) Mr. Schroeder. While Mr. Fumento may conclude what he may in his study, your bringing his opinion to this forum, on the subject of a 5 door MINI, is disingenuous. Your comment is distinguishable from a simple statement of fact (many Americans are obese) in that it is tinged with malice. I find your comment small and hateful…

    • I seem to account for 1.2 Americans.

    • Hoq1

      well… I won’t argue with generalization that Americans are getting “heftier”… but isn’t that cost of prosperity?  On a positive note, Americans have a better chance of surviving a famine!

      • VanMINI

        or being herded into work camps.

        • oldsbear

          WHAT?? Let’s get back to Gabe’s tease.

    • Aurel

       with that rationale MINI needs to build a wider car not a longer one …

    • Chris Underwood

      Yeah, that 6 pound difference from the southern Europeans makes a HUGE difference in how one fits into a car.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Mr. Schroeder- Your commentary is interesting considering that the data that BMW has collected shows that Europeans are actually “growing” as fast as those in the US. In the past 30 years every developed population has increased in size and weight. The avg. increase europe is about 3 cm in height. 

      The BMW Group has an entire department dedicated to researching biometrics. They conduct their own lab research, publish journal articles and conduct surveys of other CURRENT research. There is a reason all cars are increasing in size, clothing and everything else as well- people are growing. What brand has not “grown”?

      The easier access to food, better hygiene, and genetics all contribute to the growth of a population. 

      If you visit a house or building from the early 1900’s or earlier you will note that the doors are smaller, the chairs and tables are lower- people were smaller. 

      The trend will continue and all brands will “grow” or they will no longer meet the needs of the population. It is not a “US” problem- cars that are not even sold in the US have gotten larger. 

  • b-

    At 6’3″ I couldn’t imagine trying to get into this car with shorter doors. I have trouble getting into a 530 wagon, and X3 and the Countryman. I understand why and for who they are doing this but this is not the car that people will see 6′ + people refueling and ask, “you fit into that little car?”

    • JbkONE

      You should have seen my 6’2″ 240lb friend getting out of the back seat in my car!  Good picture.  He lost the paper-scissors-rock contest for the front seat: my 5’8″ brother got it.  

      Anyway, I’m sure the smaller door might make it a bit “different” getting into/out of the car, but the seat and roof will likely be the same, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much until it comes out and you can check.  A lot of people say the coupe roof is too low.  That’s only if you don’t want to learn how to get in the car.  I’m sure after a couple of weeks, it’ll be fine.

      A friend of mine gets in cars head-first.  You heard that right, he leans in, grabs the wheel and then gets his leg and butt in.  He refuses to do it any other way.  He needs a big car

    • oldsbear

      Agreed on size of doors. My big, stiff Baby-Boomer body likes the door openings on the R56 very much. 

      • Thing is, what makes the current MINI hardtop easy to get in and out of isn’t the length of the door, it’s the angle of the windshield. The Coupe, for example, has the same length doors, but is trickier to get into because of the deeper rake on the windshield. Likewise, anytime I try to get into a 3-series or any other conventional sedan, it’s always the rake of the windshield I’m fighting, not the swing of the door.

        • oldsbear

          It’s both. Or all three if you add the Countryman’s sill height.

  • Jay

    I really am not liking this trend. First, the 3rd generation MINI is noticeably bigger than the current generation, because it’s basically a re-skinned 1 series, now we’re getting an even bigger Clubman? Feels like MINI is getting ahead of itself and putting sales projections and cost over what made them so appealing to begin with.

    Even when they do have a 4 door hatch, it will still be more expensive than the competition. Most buyers will opt for the Golf, Yaris, Fit, Accent, Versa, Fiesta, 4-door Fiat, etc. 

    • The 3rd generation will not be noticeably bigger. And think of the FWD 1 Series as sharing a platform – not re-skinning. 

      • oldsbear

        Wondering where “platform” ends. Probably at the skin….

    • Lemelou

      Let’s wait and see what the F series boils down too before making any conclusion.

      And sorry, but there is NO competition whatsoever between a Mini and a Yaris, Fit, Versa or Fiesta. That would be called downscaling, like going from a motorcycle to a scooter.

  • Aurel

    Very exciting … looking forward to this and the F54! So the F55 will be released at the same time as the F56?

  • Rhawth99

    Will the F55 have door frames like the Countryman? 

  • D.

    As long as it isn’t a variant of the Countryman (and it appears that it isn’t), I’m OK. I own an R55 and I do wish that it had the suicide doors on both sides. Makes for a much cleaner looking design than 4 regular doors.

  • Gokartride

    If they can keep the MINI quite small and just find clever ways of getting additional access, I think that will be a logical innovation. 

  • matthewwanderer

    Ugh. I think I need to see a shrink.

    Ultimately, it’s quite off-putting to realize that MINI/Mini’s secret sauce is now going to look like an distant memory on the lot.  Like I said, it’s me. The brand is going to be fine, BMW is going to sell lots of MINIs.

    …and don’t get me started about the (alleged) sheet metal creases. They look indescribably “correct” on BMW’s designs, but not on MINI, imho.

    • JbkONE

       That’s where you and I differ.  The creases don’t look “correct” on BMWs either.  The last “correct” BMW, IMHO, was the early 2001 7 series.  Of course we’ve had 10 years to get used to them.  In 10 years maybe a crease on a MINI wouldn’t be as awful.

      • matthewwanderer

        Perhaps our opinions don’t differ all that much.  Creases might be a relative term, as I view even the sheet metal treatment on the E21 as featuring ceases more severe than anything on the R50/53.  

        It took me a long time to warm to the BMW creases I assume you’re referring to.

        • JbkONE

          Exactly.  Though I’m still not “warm” on the look.  I like the Z4, but still wish it was less “creasey” 😛

    • The creases will be minor and are there to help better define the arches and wheels as the belt-line grows a bit taller and the front becomes less sloping. Look at the creases on the Rocketman, soften them and then lower them. That’s what you’ll see.

  • ulrichd

    As a Mini and a car enthusiast the “this car is not for everyone” is part of the appeal. Once you loose that, and become more mainstream, a core portion of your customers will look elsewhere. I will have a good hard look at the 3rd gen design before deciding, but the 500 Abarth will get a six speed next year and that’s likely where I will go.

    • VanMINI

      And the GP will still smoke the Abarth.

      • ulrichd

        With a $15K higher price tag it damn well should.

      • I don’t have the numbers in front of me for the Hardtop, but Motor Trend reported recently that a stock Cooper S Coupe is already faster than the US-spec 500 Abarth. Not the JCW or the GP, just the Cooper S.

      • robblef

         The regular S smokes the Abarth.

        • ulrichd

          The Abarth is priced closer to the Cooper not the S.

        • faster, Tobias!

          Drive the Fiat, and you’ll know why they can price it lower. It doesn’t feel half as solid as a MINI.

        • r53tuning

          The JCW or GP will compare with the Abarth SS

  • Mysticeti


    Four doors might also mean power seats become an option, no? 

    I think a lot of people would welcome shorter doors on the Coupe and the Roadster.  I’m assuming the current doors for the coupe/roadster are the same doors as on the convertible making them needlessly larger/heavier for the average person.

    • McRaven

      I think those a really good points, especially the evaluating of the door size of the 58/59.

  • I think this is an interesting way to go – but flawed. Americans do not like hatchbacks, whether they be 3- or 5-door cars. Look at the Fiesta and the Focus, which you can’t even get as hatches in this country (some weird short US-only sedan). And look at sales of the Jetta vs. sales of the Golf (once Europe’s top-selling car).

    I just hope they keep the car small. (something else Americans don’t like)

    • Me

       The Fiesta and Focus are offered as two versions in the US. Each is available as a hatchback or as a sedan. Check out Ford.com if you need to.

    • JbkONE

       I think that’s because until fairly recently hatch meant cheap.  You couldn’t get a “nice” hatch, you got an economy hatch with not many options.  That’s changing and I think the perception is changing a bit too, albeit slowly.  MINI has helped pave that road.

  • Johndarema

    I like this idea.  The smaller doors will have an effective larger opening in parking lots (at least in the MidAtlantic area of the us) becuase the door will be able to open further. The doors on my r50 remind me of an old Camaro.  They are very long. Longer than my 78 Jeep station wagon.  I understand that they need to be long to access the back seat so never complained.  The parking spots here are so narrow it is rare I can open the doors very far.  Instead I move the seat all the way back in the tracks to take advantage of the space that is there.  I hope the car does not get longer.

  • Sigh.

  • Mills

    Sounds to me like BMW is the lead here, and since they will have both 3 and 5 door 1-series, that MINI will have them as well, whether they want it or not. Now Gabe is saying the new F-series cars will have a higher belt line as well, and it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Sounds like this new car is going to be ungainly looking, like the Fiat 500.

    • Slightly higher. Not worth worrying about.

    • karen

       They already have both.  And have for a while in Europe.  the 120d is a hot hatch

  • lavardera

    What a bunch of babies.

  • I get a child seat in and out of my R53 all the time with no problems.  I actually find two doors easier to deal with than four doors as far as buckling in my son.  With my R53, I just slide in facing the back of the car and kind of sit on the back of the drivers seat that’s pushed forward.  I have yet to find a four door that lets me do that. That’s one of the reasons the Countryman Coupe interests me more than the Countryman in the event I have to go larger.

    I would be all for it if they were going with the Clubman-style suicide doors.  I’ll hold judgement till I get in one, but I’m not sure the extra doors are going to do that much for utility.

    I really want to see the next Clubman too before I decide on my next purchase.

  • 80 Spitfire

    I don’t get it. People buy a car called a “MINI” and complain it’s too small. Keep the hardtop the way it is. If you require something bigger get a Clubman or a Countryman. Neither of which are “Mini” enough for me!

    • Hoq1

      hahaha… “People buy a car called a “MINI” and complain it’s too small”…. that’s sad but its true… and BMW will cater to them by making this car larger and larger (safety regulations aside of course)

  • Jac Cottrell

    Just to get EVERYONE riled up – i’ll take my F55 with ALL4! 🙂

  • personally, I cant wait to see what happens to the next Clubbie.  I luv mine as my “practical” replacement to my original hardtop.  it’s been a good compromise in space while remaining quite Mini. Though, I always thought that it could look a bit sportier…

  • Nervous

    Will this be available as a retro-fit?

    • oldsbear

      Yes, the four-door option will be listed in the accessories section of the online MINI store. (Installation required, at extra cost.)

  • Dilligent8910

    I have loathed this “Biggest Loser” trend since it began and have urged MINI and its adherents to celebrate, recognize, and preserve that one of the most significant MINI attributes has been (and should remain) the brands mini-scale lest the name MINI become an oxymoron or mutate into a grotesque iteration known as MAXI.

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    Same old complaints just a different day.. “MINI isn’t going to be mini…”

    The 3 door hatch is staying the same (period). Everything else is needed so that MINI can still make the hatch and remain a brand. 

    Does anyone really think BMW wants to build a FWD version in brand? NO, it goes against everything the brand has stood for but in order to reach economies of scale and to make sure they can stay independent and to make MINI acceptable for profitability it must do it.

    MINI’s are expensive to build (now) and thus are expensive to buy- they need to make it cheaper to buy so that profit can actually be built in. MINI is operating on a tight budget and is eking out profits that are not inline with the rest of the group. Why else would they be building the “Clubvan” seriously; How many can they really hope to sell? 

    • matthewwanderer

      “ To reach economies of scale and to make sure they can stay independent and to make MINI acceptable for profitability it must do it “


      Does that also mean that if Rolls Royce isn’t profitable, they should go downmarket?

      I’ve seen viability mentioned several times when there’s a debate like this: “It’s about profitability and survival of the brand.”

      BMW’s a publicly traded company, so their finances are fairly transparent.  In 2011, BMW reported record vehicle sales, record revenue and profit.  

      All of this is to say that perhaps MINI as a division is suffering (I recall hearing that at one point, and I don’t know if those numbers are broken out for shareholders), which would support your argument. But the BMW Group appears to be on a robust trajectory.

      As far as “the same old complaints” about the size of MINIs, the trend is indisputable. MINI models are growing rather than shrinking.  Some of us are simply adamant, and vocal, about seeing something from MINI that goes in the other direction.  Perhaps we’re in the minority, as BMW’s investment is obviously pursuing the trend mentioned above. 

      Looking forward to the WRR beat down on ridiculous commenters next week 😉 Different opinions give us all something to discuss.

      • BimmerFile_Michael

        Rolls did go “down market” it’s called the Ghost and they will introduce another “down market” model shortly. The Ghost has made Rolls sell more cars at a greater profit than ever before and cemented the fate of the brand, unlike MB and Maybach.

        • matthewwanderer

          “Rolls did go “down market” it’s called the Ghost”

          I asked “if” RR wasn’t profitable, would the brand stray.  It was intended as hypothetical.  Since the Ghost’s sticker is $250,000 and is still classified as a “luxury saloon”, that’s not what I had in mind.  The Ghost represents subtle differentiation to me, but I certainly understand how the Ghost can be argued to be a significant departure and, yes, “down market”.

          You make the case that MINI’s brand expansion is analog and, in fact, necessary.  But this is your sport: you’re steeped in the auto culture, and I assume, like the staff at MF, you mix with its executives and its designers.  I’m just a MINI owner/fan, and many of the subtleties (to say nothing about the inside information I’ll never be exposed to) that inform MINI’s strategies are entirely lost on me. 

          I just want a very small, sporty, premium, non-deriviative MINI.  Accurately or inaccurately, I’ve been b*tching and moaning as this ideal evaporates.  I embarrass myself here because MF has a comment section.

          To state the obvious, it’s not just MINI fans that have “the same old complaints” about the direction their favorite brand.  MINI’s recent expansion, literally and figuratively, is not unique to MINI.  The industry is littered with examples.  

          MB has had their Geländewagen on hand to fight wars and pile kids into, sure, but to really appeal to moms with means the world got various and objectionable minivans.  Porsche “expanded” by introducing the Cayenne and the Panamera.  VW…well, you know.  Point being, fans always have a lot to b*tch about, and fans do exactly that. 

          “MINI held the group back from being the top company for profits in the auto sector.”

          Like I said above, follow the money.  The problem is, some customers will be left behind.  But that’s not new, that’s business.  And, as I say consistently, it’s my issue, not BMW’s.  I’m just grousing because I see little left to MINI that I identify with: A brand that put all their chips on…a very small, sporty, premium, non-deriviative MINI.

  • Ballandchain410

    I’m going to wait to see and drive it to pass judgement. I don’t mind the idea on paper as I read it…….

  • Eric

    Heiko Schroeder, how exactly does weight automatically equal “fat”. I’m 5’10” but I weigh 215 pounds and it’s all muscle, not much fat at all. The height and frames of Amercians are significantly bigger also.

  • JbkONE

    Look, did the Clubman dilute the brand?  Some might say yes, but I think not.  It’s 9.4 in longer.  Here they’re talking about a 5-door that’s only 5cm longer (2 in): smaller than the Clubman.  I don’t think that’s MAXI at all.  In fact, it’ll probably be the smallest 5-door avail globally.

    We’re talking about 2 inches here folks!

    • ulrichd

      Sure it’s just 2 inches, but it’s exactly that size creep that has people worried. It’s 2 inches this generation, another 2 the next generation, etc, etc. Look at the new 3-series – the thing is huge. Where does it stop?

      • jeff

         it stops with the hatch.  it’s be said in the article and repeated in the comments.  the hatch is staying at the current length and dimensions.  This 4 door “stretched” version is another bodystyle; apparently in between the hatch and the clubman.  if you want/need/desire a small 3 door mini, it still exists.

        • ulrichd

          My mistake. I thought they were making the base hatch bigger to accommodate both 2 and 4-door variants.

  • Sounds like a great idea.  I love the MCS, but have 3 kids and occasionally have to tote them in my car.  4 doors are a necessity and this provides another option for me since the Countryman and Clubman just aren’t my style

  • karen

    I will hold out judgment until I see it.  Lets see how it really looks and what the real function is.  I personally love most of the mini line up. I am not a clubman fan.  And I am also a BMW girl.  In the past 8 years we have had 6 different bmw’s and am now on a second mini.  Also the same company there are differences and although Mini fit and finish has gotten better the BMW has a better fit and finish.  ( the other vehicle we own is a 2011 x5 35d)     What I would love to see from mini is the diesel in the US.  I know that there is cross platforming as well as sharing technology and engines but the cars feel very much different when you are behind the wheel