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Five door MINI Finally Captured in Photos

20121101-084425.jpgWe broke details of the five door F55 MINI early this year going into detail around the size and detailing of the car. And our BimmerFile correspondent in Germany has given us first hand reports on the test mules he’s seen. Now we finally have photo proof (courtesy of gmotors.co.uk – follow the link for the full photo gallery) that it not only exists but is coming just months after the F56 launch next fall. But what does a five door really give MINI and its customers?

The F55 five door will allow MINI to compete in the four door market without buyers giving up the typically MINI attributes. Despite it being a core brand attribute, many potential buyers 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.

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. Opening those four doors will be completely redesigned door handles, while stylistically they will be similar to the current car, will pivot outward from the front end similar to the mechanism found on newer BMWs.

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. As these photos almost let you make out, 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.

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.

Top photo courtesy of Gmotors

20121101-084512.jpg

Written By: Gabe

  • les

    It sounds like what VW has done with the current Golf. The 2 door has longer doors, and the 4 door has smaller ones.

  • http://www.mynameisjay.com/ Jay

    I love how you don’t even notice the extra doors at first. This will REALLY help MINI sell some cars.

  • Evan

    I really like this car. The extra two doors go miles for a touch more practicality. And 2inches more in the wheelbase isn’t much at all but will feel great in the backseat. The four doors are all framed, which is great for noise/refinement. You can also tell about some surface changes to the design, especially at the base of the doors just above what will be the standard black trim. The boot appears to stick out a bit more or the roof ends a little earlier- this is what must give the eluded “fastback” look. I’m also assuming that the front is still carrying extra material at this stage as the F56 is expected to have a more upright front for pedestrian-crash reasons. Final judgement reserved of course, but this is looking very good indeed. Great news day!

    • Hemisedan

      Gabe and Nathaniel can correct me if I’m wrong, but Evan I don’t think that the rear door windows will be framed, let alone the front doors. No auto sylist in this day and age would ever think of doing that, strictly on cosmetics. Also, I think that there would be more wind noise with the framed windows. I remember back in the days of framed door windows, lots of wind noise and really screws up the aero dynamics as well. Just what I see in looking at the UK site that has more pictures available. Should be a winner for most people. Just two of us, so I think we’ll pass on the four door models.

      • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

        They will all be framed like that vast majority of four doors (and the Countryman) in the marketplace.

        • Hemisedan

          Stand corrected. Does this mean that the hatch will also have framed door windows too? The current coupe is looking better and better. First it is the gas door on the wrong side, then they take the speedometer out of the center and now the framed Buick doors. What next in the name of going modern?

        • lavardera

          will the two door hatch remain with frameless windows? I hope so, I really like them this way.

        • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

          Yes.

  • Mark Smith “MINIBro”

    I hope they come up with a cool name for the bodystyle. 4 Door Hardtop just has no real pizazz to it.

  • AD

    5 doors and 5 lug wheels!

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      All MINIs will be five lug from the F56 moving forward. Also note the gas cap position.

  • Bor

    yep, that’s what I’m gonna buy trading my 07 S in.

  • Jac Cottrell

    Very cool… We have a CM ALL4, and while I love it, I much prefer the engagement from our R53. I love the Clubman, looks like this might be another great option…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Eaves/100002517570191 Scott Eaves

    Nothing wrong with MINI doing what it needs to in order to become more financially stable and strong. Give people more models and it should attract more buyers. I know extra doors would have been a huge help getting a baby seat in and out of the car. Heck, I usually ended up going through the boot of my R53 with the baby seat!

    • Aaron

      I also put my daughter into her rear-facing car seat through the boot . It seems unconventional, but it worked really well. Thankfully now she can climb in to the forward-facing seat herself, but we’ve also now got an infant seat on the other side…which means I’m now often a passenger while my wife drives (boring!). The extra 5 cm of legroom is a plus, but that wouldn’t be enough to make it more comfortable for me to drive with the infant seat back there. But it might be enough for us to have moved the child seat to the driver’s side (until my oldest switches to a booster seat).

  • Aaron

    Is this essentially the new generation of Clubman? As someone who currently has a Britax child safety seat as well as a Graco Infant car seat in the rear of my R53 at the moment, I am one who would have really appreciated a couple more useful doors. My guess is that when these become available, they’ll make up the bulk of the hatchback sales.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      No, this is a separate car. Our info is that the Clubman will remain its own model. We’re expecting dual suicide club doors and more of a sport wagon, shooting brake kind of rear end. Latest info is that it’s F56-based.

      • Aurel

        I am really looking forward to the new Clubman … I hope they make it really radical looking. But is this 4 door F56 AND the new 4 door Clubman necessary at the same time?

    • http://bridger.us/ Gabriel Bridger

      No. The new F54 Clubman will come out 12-18 months later.

  • bluzeke

    Another nail in the Clubman coffin.

  • BimmerFile_Michael

    The camo on this car is different than those I have seen before in 5 door guise. Don’t put much stock into the roofline or the rear door gaps as that is all cladding…

  • VanMINI

    THE HORROR…..

  • Dylan

    The f*ck is this? Let’s make a MINI for EVERY occasion.

  • Chase

    I’m not a fan of the fact that they are going to be using framed doors. I sure hope that they do them right, as most look sloppy. My biggest pet peeve is being able to see the vehicle’s paint color inside the vehicle. THAT looks cheap. I noticed visible paint in a video on the most recent 3-series, hopefully BMW isn’t THAT complacent with the 4-door MINI.

  • that.guy

    And the brand-killing dilution of Mini’s core attributes continues apace. They lost me when they decided to offer an auto option on the Cooper S.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      And yet here you are ;-)

      • that.guy

        Touché. Hope springs eternal? Waiting around for that light-weight AWD mid-engined 300hp model to be announced. It’s definitely going to happen tomorrow. I can feel it.

        • jeff

          speaking of diluting core attributes.

          since when has mini been known for awd, mid engine, or high hp?

        • that.guy

          If that’s dilution, then… water that mutha down good!

  • ulrichd

    Good grief at this pace I expect them to announce a MINI pick-up truck soon – Der Kamino anyone?

    • nick dawson

      Why not, they did it before in the 60’s. Check out the one below

  • slap

    Hopefully, the weight increase won’t be too large. The 4 door GTI is ~ 80 lbs heavier than the 2 door model. And lengthening the MINI will add even more weight.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      All indications are that the F56 will be lighter than the R56, which was lighter than the R53. So this slightly longer F-series MINI, like the Clubman, will likely not add significant amounts of weight to the car.

      • BimmerFile_Michael

        Oh its definitely lighter :)

  • http://twitter.com/TheCondolenceCo The Condolence Co

    next is a 5 door Countryman Cabrio

  • Hoover

    I think this would be more successful if they extended the wheelbase a bit more and just had a proper wagon. But I have beat that drum for too many years now. I’m not keen on the “dune-line” roof profile.

    • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

      Stay tuned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adrianmannion Adrian Mannion

    Why not leave the hatch as a 3 door and add the 4th door to the Clubman and have them opening the normal way rather than suicide. Perhaps then following Fords sliding door system on the new B-Max that does away with the b pillar!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/UntitledFolder Ryan Frey

    I want this so badly. I love my current MINI. Even my giant dog loves the hatch. But the few times I have company to drive it’s always a huge pain and an exercise in contortionism. Even just having the two small doors on the rear while maintaining nearly the same length dimensions will get me in the next model perhaps even year one… if I don’t go Countryman.


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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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