Is MINI About to Shrink its Model Lineup? (Hint – Don’t Bet on it)

Since the debut of the new MINI more than ten years ago, the line-up has grown from one to seven distinct models. As we look toward the next generation MINI hatch, the F56, we can’t help but wonder about the next generation of all those other MINIs as well. What will the next Clubman be like? Will the Coupe and Roadster merge into one product? What about the next Countryman?

In a recent interview with Edmunds at the New York Auto Show, MINI USA VP Jim McDowell had this to say regarding the next generation MINI lineup:

“When we start to replace models, I think you will see that we won’t replace every model exactly. When I joined MINI, we knew that we would have two models. Ultimately, we (now) have seven. We are starting the next generation a year from now. We know that we will have a pretty broad lineup. You may actually put your chess pieces on the board differently if you know that you can have seven.””

Now before anyone has a panic attack, it should be noted that all of this conversation happened in the context of the MINI Hardtop Hatch (and increasingly the Countryman) being at the center of the brand. Those models aren’t going anywhere. There will always, always, always be a traditional MINI Cooper hardtop hatch. The topic at hand is what about all the other model variations?

The Edmonds piece goes on to speculate JM’s meaning in terms of the brand’s future model lineup, saying that some models we currently have will be cut in favor of alternatives. We think that might be a bit of a stretch. (There’s also this poorly considered Jalopnik article, based on the Edmonds piece, making some rather imaginative leaps that the MINI brand is faltering and scaling back despite continued record sales. We don’t believe that for a second. In fact, our sources have confirmed over and over again that we’re going to see more MINI models in the future, not fewer.) What we can know from these statements is that there are going to be some changes, but for regular readers of MotoringFile, this should actually be old news.

Let’s start with one MINI model we do know is changing: the Clubman. Our sources tell us that the next version of the Clubman will include a second, left-side club door and that its rear profile will be more sloped, bringing forward the classic “shooting brake” sports car silhouette. Those are significant changes over the current car.

We’ve also been told to expect a 4-door crossover/people hauler so far code-named the Spacebox and/or Traveller.

As for a little wild speculation of our own, we’re laying a side bet on a combined Roadster/Coupe model with a lightweight retractable hard top. Two separate cars that are so niche may be a tough argument to make in the coming the years. But one car that combines the best of both could be more viable.

What about you though, what would you change for the next version of your favorite MINI variant? Which cars would you cut from the lineup? (And nice try, don’t waste your time saying the Countryman. It’s selling far too well and bringing tons of people into the brand.)