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Why Are MINI’s Sales Down in the US?

F56_Cooper_0010

MINI USA’s sales are off pace by over 25% for the year and 18% for the month of June. However if you look at the figures the problem isn’t as simple as it might seem.

Looking at June sales figures for the F56 are off only by 50 vehicles. Considering the incentives MINI was running this time last year and that the F56 isn’t quite as fully stocked as it normally would be, that’s a pretty good figure.

However the main culprit for the year over year plunge is the R56/F56 model change over – MINI’s bread and butter product. And it was a changeover filled with unfortunate timing and production problems that led to dealers having little or no new inventory of the brand’s best selling product.

For June however it’s a different story that looks more like death by a thousand cuts. The Paceman is off by 41% (with only 182 vehicles sold) and the Coupe and Roadster are down by 71% and 66% respectively. For Roadster, a car we’ve called one of the best MINI’s ever made, it’s particularly surprising. Then there’s the aging R57 Convertible which is down almost 40% for the month – a month it should be selling like gangbusters.

What does all of it mean? For one there are many good small cars out there with excellent fuel efficiency and plenty of cash on the hood. Then there are a plethora of aging models in the line-up that, while still compelling, don’t have the MPG figures many rivals do.

So what’s the plan to turn it around? A complete model change over will be taking place with the five door, Clubman, JCW and convertible (in that order) over the next two years. Then there’s the next generation Countryman coming in 2017. Finally MINI will be introducing plugin hybrid and diesel models on both the Clubman and Countryman to help drive interest in showrooms. Will it work? Only time will tell.

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Written By: Gabe

  • agre_gator

    maybe… just maybe… it is because the car looks like s h i t and has so many bad feedback from current MINI users… have you conisdered that, Gabe?

    • fishbert

      Or the uncomfortable seats folks looking at the Cooper S are stuck with. (that’s what’s keeping me away)

      • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

        You mean the most supportive sport seats ever offered in a MINI? The first with real side bolstering and leg extensions? You prefer the cheap and uncomfortable R53/R56 seats? Really?

        • fishbert

          No, I prefer the comfortable lounge leather R56 seats that don’t have aggressive “side” bolsters that poke me in the back and prevent my normal-sized passenger from having their arms at their sides.

          The problem isn’t the sport seats; the problem is that you’re stuck with them. Not everyone is “average size” (especially not in the North American market) and not everyone has their arms up holding a steering wheel.

          For a make that prides itself on “you-ification”, it’s astonishing that there’s no way to option something different… something less aggressive. Hell, I would pay $1000 more to “downgrade” the Cooper S to the standard seat available in the Cooper (especially that cloth/leather one they show on the miniusa site).

        • oldsbear

          Agreed; except there should not be a $1000 premium on the alternative seat.

        • Don’t Drink The Haterade

          …..Seriously? Never and I mean never have I ever heard someone complain about my F56 sport seats. Maybe because my passengers (and myself included) understand that a performance car has performance-oriented seats?

          Here’s my suggestion. Since those ‘annoying’ bolsters are such a problem for you, I would look at other options from Kia, maybe Mitsubishi? The kind of car a cheap salesman will love to tell you doesn’t have those ‘terrible seats’ that performance cars have.

          God, I would love to hear what you would say about my father’s Lamborghini seats. I’m sure you would cringe just looking at them and tell me how ‘you would never buy one’ as if that was an option for you. LOL

        • fishbert

          Did you really just liken a Cooper S to a Lambo? That’s funny. Thanks for the laugh. =)

        • Don’tDrinkTheBMWKool-Aid

          The GTI and R56 S have fantastic seats. Not too heavily bolstered, but very supportive and they definitely hold you in place. In fact, Car and Driver just said that the 2015 GTI has the best seats of any car, period. They are highly adjustable, very comfortable, heavily bolstered but not uncomfortably so, and they have wonderful thigh support. If you are talking about Mitsubishi as an alternative to the MCS, I’m guessing you’re referring to the Evo – which is on a whole different level of performance.

      • http://about.me/jasonrwilliams Jason Williams

        I’m a 6′ tall American male, and I adore the bolstering in the F56. They are the first MINI seats that hold me in the even better than the R5x Recaros. The adjustable thigh bolsters will also make the seats much more comfortable on a long trip for the larger/taller amongst us!

        • fishbert

          Well, being tall isn’t really what causes the problem. Glad they work well for you, though; quite jealous. =)

        • http://about.me/jasonrwilliams Jason Williams

          Any car manufacturer makes engineering decisions based upon market research and their target market (which shifts) so inevitably somebody isn’t going to be “comfortable” with a decision. Although I think sport seats should be a standard included feature on a sports model, perhaps if enough people bring up the mater, the non-sport seats could be a no-cost future option. Local markets do have some power in what packages and features to allow to be spec’d. So although venting on an internet forum may be cathartic, the best thing to do would be to tell the guys that have any power over this in the US: http://www.miniusa.com/content/miniusa/en/contact-us.html

    • SPICYJCWCOUPE

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Did you even look at the breakdown of the NA sales figures? the F56 model that you say looks like s–t is the one outside of the Countryman which has sold very close to the R56 in June 2013!! The main reason for lower sales of the F56 in its year-to-date is due to the rollout delayed until April & beyond in some cases!

      It’s the other R series (except the Countryman) that are taking a nosedive! My view is the huge update in technology in the F56 & upcoming F55, F54, etc later this year & early 2015 will be a driving force in the sales of those models as the other R series are still ‘stuck’ in their own tech era for another 2-3 years! To me that’s a big issue & I expect many others probably feel the same way.

      The front end look of the S model of the F56 (and F55) will turn off some buyers, but my guess is sales will be as good or better than expected as the other R series models wait for their next generations.

      • afrank

        agreed and this coming from someone not brand loyal just visiting the dealer to give the minis a spin. Best smiles per mile is the 2014 mini cooper s, suffice to say theres one less for sale at the dealership…. and really the front end is hardly that much different nothing to worry about and as more are seen on the road it will become even less of a sticking point…

    • lawrothegreat

      Practically every single F56 owner I’ve read messages by through forums love the F56.

      • TotesKewl

        What about R53 and R56 owners that have driven the F56? Not so much. I know, because I have looked. Let me guess. Do you have a Grey S Hatch? Are you the one that has posted the same post on every single MINI forum?

        • lawrothegreat

          Yes I used to drive a dark silver R56S as well as a black R50. I loved them. Now I have a PW F56S. And yes I actively use three forums using the same name (not exactly every forum). Why? I’m honest and consistent about what I say and don’t feel the need to hide. The third generation has more strengths and less weaknesses than either of the two previous generations. I’ll repeat my first comment that practically every person who has taken delivery of an F56 and posts online (several trading in R56 JCWs) love them. Journalists, on the whole, are also very complimentary. There are people out there who don’t like the F56 and they fall into two camps. First those who don’t like the looks and I get that. Second those who think their current R5x models are the bees knees and it wouldn’t have mattered what MINI produced, it would never compare. Guess what? I think my F56 surpasses my R56 for fun and matches my R50. Shock horror!

        • TotesKewl

          Your summation is incorrect. The reason people don’t like the F56 is due to it’s performance. It’s overly soft suspension, quiet engine and exhaust, light steering without any feel, and it’s obvious departure from drivers car to pedestrian commuter. I’ve spoken to more prior or current owners of R50/53/56 owners that dislike the F56 due to those reasons, than I’ve spoken to supporters of the change. The unfortunate look of the vehicle is just another strike on top of the performance that keeps me and numerous others from liking it. Your reference to journalists liking it is another error. Yes, some people like the new package for the added comfort, but 9/10 mention how much softer and less peppy it feels. They also say that it pales in comparison to the Fiesta ST’s drive, and the Golf GTI in every aspect.

    • Iain Brown

      Ok then. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • howardpoint

    Well, maybe agre_gator seems a bit harsh, but in fact that may be a large portion of the truth. I own a classic, and a 2006 MCS. I would buy a new Clubman, but now it is essentially defunct. The newer cars are out of proportion in my “classic” leaning mind and if I am going to buy a BMW, well then, I will just buy one….I don’t need a “starter” BMW, I want a Mini…So I will either a/ upgrade, slightly mod the 06 and keep it another 5+ years, or b/ move on to another car. Like you said, there are many more choices than there were 10 years ago. And although I love to watch the countryman on the Dakar, which really isn’t a countryman at all….it just doesn’t cut the mustard in real life fun driving in the suburbs. Oh, and although I dearly love my MCS…it has not been all fun and games-but then none of them are as the more complexity enters the designs.

    • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

      The new MINI better retains the drivingg characteristics of the R53 than the R56 ever did. So calling a starter BMW is missing the point. Yes it has a tom of tech associated with more expensive BMWs but that’s a huge value add in my book considering they managed to create a more engaging car than what came before.

      • NotTrue

        Ugh no. It’s not even close.

        • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

          Apparently every review seems to be wrong. Imagine that.

        • Lmao

          I don’t know what “every review” you are talking about. Maybe the ones that BMW pays you to write.

        • lawrothegreat

          I’ve not seen a review in the UK which gives the F56 less than four out of five stars.

      • Kev50027

        Not sure what car you drove, but the one I drove had less steering feel, no clutch feel, a suspension that made it feel like every other small hatch, and an interior that looked like they stopped designing it half way down, and forgot it needs a radio and tachometer until the last second. In a word, it was horrendous, but it was exactly what sensible, boring hatch drivers want in a car.

        • fishbert

          I test-drove a Roadster a while back and its clutch feel was completely absent as well (relative to a pre-LTI R56 Cooper S).

        • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

          You’re entitled to any opinion you have but for some reference… I’ve driven five different F56. Two manuals and three autos. Three MCS and two MC. And I’ve written on this site extensively about the experience if you want to go in depth.

          Further I’ve driven and reviewed almost every modern MINI in almost every conceivable variation. And my opinions are based on everything from the driving experience to the engineering details that I’ve learned from the engineers that have created them all. So yes we drove the same car and I came away (independently) with largely the same conclusions that other auto writers have had. It’s a huge improvement over what came before it.

          Yes the nose has grown thanks to pedestrian impact standards and it’s a shame. But so as every other FWD car. MINI has managed to great something excellent in both dynamics, design and technology for a price that’s about the same as last years R56. That’s success in my book.

        • MINIplzdial911

          We have all done the same thing. You’re not special. I’ve driven every MINI made since the relaunch… Just more time in the R56 S Manual than the others. My personal favorite is the good ol’ hatch. It’s the most original, best thought out model. It is lighter than the other variants, and it’s still a decent daily driver. The F56 can’t touch the R53 or R56. It’s steering is too light, it’s suspension has too much roll, it’s engine has been noted by at least 5 different magazines for its lackadaisical approach to performance, it doesn’t sound as good, unless you cough up extra you get flimsy plastic/rubber pedals, it’s the worst model to look at, it’s not faster than the previous R56 S hatch, and it consumes more fuel in the city. No, I’m not impressed by it. It’s the F30 of MINI’s. The R5x was like the E9x of 3′s. Fantastic, driver focused automobiles. The F30 has been softened up to Toyota levels. The F56 is the same way.

        • lawrothegreat

          And you’re entitled to your view. I’ve now put more than 5,000 miles on my F56S (probably ahead of other owners) and to associate words like flimsy with the F56 when comparing it to previous generations isn’t a true reflection of the car at all. I’ve found it to be quicker, have tons more front end lateral grip, far less torque steer and be more economical than my previous R56S.

        • MINIplzDial911

          It doesn’t have any more power btw. You can check out NAM for a dyno comparison of the N18 and B48. The N18 actually produced more power throughout the rev’s except for at one point where the B48 peaked 4hp more, but quickly goes back below the N18′s output. They quote higher numbers, but the N18 was very underrated in typical BMW fashion. It put out very high numbers at the wheels, and was a very consistent and free-revving engine.

        • MINIplzdial911

          Why do VW, GM, and Mazda all have short overhangs on their new FWD models, but the F56 is like a whole extra original Mini in the front?

        • http://about.me/jasonrwilliams Jason Williams

          The F56 has a shorter overhand than either a current gen VW Golf/GTI or a Mazda 3, two cars which it may be cross-shopped with. It may look longer given the shorter wheelbase of the car, but it is not.

        • Henry Wu

          Don’t feed the troll.

      • howardpoint

        Gabriel I wouldn’t argue with you aggressively on your point and I could even like some of the new but the general discussion concerned degrading sales and maybe WHY.

    • Reality check

      In June, more customers selected the F56 than any other model. I’m not a fan of the new car in general and agree with your points about classic proportion and the BMW-ness of the new hardtop. However these sales figure don’t support the notion that customers aren’t buying the new car. It’s the Rxx cars with sales in the tank.

      • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

        agree – that’s absolutely proven in the numbers.

        • fishbert

          The brand new shiny model is only just reaching monthly sales figures of the dying model in its last year of life… I suspect BMW/MINI were hoping for something a bit better by now (especially with pent-up demand from when folks couldn’t order anything during the production line changeover).

        • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

          As mentioned above:

          1. They aren’t offering the blowout incentives that helped move the R56 over the last fee years
          2. The F56 isn’t fully stocked (or hardly stocked at all) at most dealerships
        • fishbert

          I’ll grant #1 probably has some effect, but #2 has been true for years.

        • JustBeingHonest

          What blowout incentives? They most certainly weren’t offering anything until maybe the beginning of the year. Last year this time, they might give you a few hundred off – if that – but they were still adding on $3000 in dealer installed parts. My dealer has at least 30 F56′s on the lot. They aren’t moving like wildfire.

      • JustBeingHonest

        Toyota Camry’s fly off lots. Doesn’t mean it’s a good drivers car.

    • lawrothegreat

      I love the F56 tech; it’s a modern hot hatch. Look at the supercar and hypercar market – arguably representing some of most exciting cars made. They’re not 600hp rear wheel drive manuals anymore, they’re 800hp 4WD hybrids complete with touchscreens and more electronics than you can imagine. Also a hot hatch is not supposed to be a second car, it’s your every day driver that’s also fast. I want the grown up tech in my MCS.

      • fishbert

        The F56 tech is what keeps me from buying a Roadster instead. Absolutely do want!!

      • ROFLMAO

        It’s not the modern hot hatch. Try VW GTI or Megane RS for that. Even Fiesta ST. The F56 is a great hatch-tourer. It’s a new segment that BMW just invented. It’s kinda like the “4-door Coupe”, or Sports Activity Coupe.

        • lawrothegreat

          I said “a” modern hot hatch. I actually think the Fiesta ST is a great car, but it’s not modern in the same sense. What makes the Fiesta ST so good is because it’s not modern in many ways – it’s not weighed down by tons of electronics. It’s simple and light and as a result is extremely good and effective at what it does. The Volkswagen Golf GTi is a great all rounder and great to drive, possibly one of the best. Unfortunately it looks exactly the same as the last Golf and the one before that, and whilst the interior is well screwed together it’s also rather dull to look at. It’s the mature choice.

        • ROFLMAO

          The new GTI is wider, lower, more aggressive, and an overall huge improvement on the previous GTI. You could also argue the F56 looks just like the last two generations, just different grilles and air intakes and light size. The GTI also is in a whole different league in performance, which is the most important factor in my mind. It’s comfort, quality, and value are just additional extra’s which make the GTI the best all around package of any vehicle made.

  • GoRixter

    Find one single review online that doesn’t hammer the brand for reliability. Perhaps it was more reliable, or just fewer reported problems because the base of customers was relatively small, but pre 2008, Consumer Reports (which is one source many turn to) gave the brand pretty high praise. Since then it’s been all downhill. I love my MCS R56 but it certainly has had its problems. The new F56 front end looks ridiculous IMHO.

    MINi better come up with a strategy rather than just hoping for things to improve.

    • walk0080

      F56 needs a nose job desperately – especially in the lighter colours.

      • lawrothegreat

        It actually looks great in the flesh.

        • Nick

          Great? I disagree. It’s ok but definitely not an improvement.

        • r.burns

          Yes it is an improvement ! Definitely more character than the R56 (that lacked some compared to the R53)

    • RacerX

      I couldn’t agree more about the reliability keeping folks from the brand (or at least giving them pause). I am hoping that with the new Fxx models using more BMW components, engines and tech will improve both quality and reliability justifying the higher price compared to competitors. The new MkVII GTI elevates the playing field and is a FAR better better vehicle than the MkVI, and while the Fiesta ST is a great car, it is still a $25K Ford Fiesta lacking tech and quality that justify the price point.

      • GoRixter

        BMW can’t call MINI a premium car, simply because of the tech, it has to deliver a premium product in all aspects of the car, especially how it handles known problems. The cold-start death rattle and the HPFP issues are two examples of well known problems, which BMW/MINI were/are well aware of, but choose to deal with it by having customers have to battle individually with each dealer, in order to be covered. What a joke.

  • minicooperracer

    If it were just about the looks then how would Subaru be in business? Don’t get me wrong, I love them for many reason but they do not have great lines. In terms of MINI, I owned an 05 convertible, an 06 MCS checkmate and a ’12 JCW Coupe (looks have also been highly up for debate) and while I love my Coupe and it makes a great daily driver and track car, I miss the 06 MCS the most in terms of style and performance. The F56 is a great car. They engineered out the torque steer issues, the interior is refined and phenomenal, and it handles fantastically. Maybe it has too much BMW in it and it shows. It has grown in size just a little too much. The LED headlights are stunning and the technology is impressive but I think all the refinement may push some loyalist away and attract some new customers (not enough).

    The rollout was terrible though and had tons of delays. The launch was at a weird time of year compared to when new cars generally come out.

    You cannot order a clubman right now.. Fail. The Paceman was created to compete with things like the Range Rover but is doesn’t and it misses. The convertible needs a refresh badly. The 7 year changeover and the way MINI has been with model change overs is killing them. Understand that competitors that are high production and have been around for years are used to change overs and do them better.

    • Minicooperracer

      They have not launched the JCW which is another issue and then they are planning the 5 door but it is not out yet either. MINI will have to change over faster and be more complete when they do in order to compete. Stop running out of cars people want and making things that don’t fit. As I said, they Coupe is perfect for me because most tracks do not allow convertibles without full roll cages and that takes away from being a daily driver to me. The reason I bought it quick was because I assumed they would kill it soon. Shocked the roadster does not sell more though. If I were in charge of MINI… I would make the Rocketman be the core car, bring out the 5 door, keep the Countryman and Roadster (in current form or that beautiful concept) and eliminate the rest. Change overs need to be more frequent and done better.

      Hoping the brand stays alive and gets better.

      • walk0080

        I like my R56 JCW but if I were in the market for a future F56 JCW I would probably go look at a BMW m235i instead.

        • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

          The one I just started was more or less optionless and $48k and change. The JCW will start at 30k.

        • OKGPT

          Uh, my m235i build on TrueCar.com with metallic paint, premium pkg., cold pkg., MSRP $48,875, Invoice $45,590, TrueCar price $44,863.

        • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

          That’s similar to the spec I had – which is fairly stripped down as compared to my loaded 1M that was $52k. I loved the car but I cringe at the price creep over the past few years. That said its clearly a value as compared to the 135is.

        • TellinItLikeItIz

          Start at 30K. Plus destination, plus a few options packs and you are at $44K. Plus, if it’s on dealer lots, they will throw the first place finish, paint protection – which is the same thing – but nobody asks what they are paying for so they charge you twice – some fancy $1900 wheels, a carbon fiber looking sticker to go over the gas tank, and some dealer installed suspension kit that doesn’t do anything but make you worried the moron techs installed it wrong. So now we are at around $48K for the JCW. For that money, I would just buy 1 GTI, ST, or even a Golf R. That way I have loads more money left over, much more aftermarket tuning support, a longer warranty, and most importantly on the GTI and GOLF R – A REAL LSD.

        • r.burns

          Real but the calibration of these LSD are not so sport-oriented… These are efficient cars but not so fun to drive than any smaller hot hatches like… Cooper S

        • walk0080

          I wasn’t trying to do a 1:1 price comparison, just pointing out that the new MINI so far is not a hot hatch I want – I might go for a coupe instead someday for more performance and RWD.

          Looks are very important IMO for hot hatches and taking away the short overhangs, changes to windshield, etc. takes away from the more classic look that I like.

  • Nick Dawson

    I am very surprised at the negativity towards MINI from US enthusiasts. The problem is not that the F56 is not selling. On the contrary, the problem is that MINI has become a victim of the F56′s SUCCESS!

    When a journalist from CAR magazine drove a variety of F56′s at the launch in Puerto Rico, he came away mightily impressed. However, when he was given a lift back to the airport in a new Countryman, he was absolutely appalled at how bad the Countryman felt by comparison, and he reported that it was at that point that he realised just how far F56 had moved the game on. We can only speculate as to what he would have thought, had he have been given a lift back to the airport in a Paceman or a Coupe.

    And therein lies the problem. F56 has rendered the remaining R-series MINIs redundant. Worry not, I confidently predict that F55, now in production, and F54, coming next spring, will more than compensate for the loss of interest in the remaining R-series models.

    • Cone Assassin

      I completely agree. In comparison, the R56 is a turd compared to the amount of technology, quality interior, and new drivetrain. I would personally feel like I am purchasing last years model if looking at a coupe, roadster, or convertible, just based on how much better the F56 is.

      If that doesn’t make sense, think about the Fiat 500 from a drivers perspective, since us MF readers tend to be more of the “power and performance” type. It has a 5 speed, and a twist beam rear axle. That is a 2014 car with tech that died with the MK4 Golf. Hell even the GTI got a 6 speed towards the end of its life in the MK4 era.

      That’s an extreme example, but from a quality and driving standpoint, that is how extreme the F56 has actually evolved over the R56 cars.

      (I currently drive a mix of Mini/MINI’s from each generation, please don’t bash me, I do still like the supercharger whine and compensating for 45 oil leaks as much as any real enthusiast).

      • r_k_w

        If that doesn’t make sense, think about the Fiat 500 from a drivers perspective, since us MF readers tend to be more of the “power and performance” type. It has a 5 speed, and a twist beam rear axle. That is a 2014 car with tech that died with the MK4 Golf.

        And yet, Fiat achieves what MINI couldn’t…http://media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do;jsessionid=F6FA6CCF4B7F51F2C5FA57E9030FCEC4?&id=15771&mid=1

        FIAT brand sales were up 11 percent in June, the brand’s best ever sales in the month of June. It was the brand’s seventh-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains. Sales of the Fiat 500L were up 113 percent in June compared with sales in June 2013, the 500L’s first month on sale in the U.S. The Fiat 500 Cabrio Abarth, with its 130 percent year-over-year increase, recorded the largest percentage sales gain of any Fiat 500 model in June.

        • r.burns

          A start from zero,……..

      • walk0080

        Too bad much of the tech in the F56 seems a bit of a gimmick to me, but the buying public loves that stuff I guess – can’t fault MINI for following suit with other manufacturers. Adds costs and more to break. I’m just happy I have a USB input, ABS/DSC/Safety tech and power windows!

  • Brendan OConnor

    I have been shopping for a new MINI for the last few weeks since I sold my R53. Here is my input. The new F56 is a pretty nice car. Yes, its expensive but I would happily own one. The only thing is, inventory is not great and finding the one I want has proven difficult. Also, my dealer is telling me that if i special order the one I want, it will be two to three months before I would see it. Then you look at the rest of the lineup to see if you can find something you like and everything just seems dated compared to the F56. So, I have decided to hold off on a new one for while and I am sure that I am not the only one running into this.

    • Guest

      Just an honest question. I see this a lot.. Ordering will take some time (two or three months, let’s use, as you said) but you have “decided to hold off on a new one for a while”. Why? If you order now, by the time “a while” arrives, your new MINI will arrive at the dealership. Why wait longer than you have to? Also, if you order now, it’ll be a 2015.

      • Brendan OConnor

        With the new models coming out, I would rather wait to see which one I like more before I go and order one.

  • Brian

    Let’s see, the last time i tried to come back to MINI, the dealer’s acted like they couldn’t give me $.50 off the car because they where in such hot demand. lol. They also tried to charge me $500 to get it shipped from a dealer not even 100 miles away. They lost the first sale, which would have been my 3rd MINI to Jeep, then they lost the second sale to VW. In which I got $4200 off MRSP on a 2013 GTI. The GTI hands down has the MINI beat and I really don’t see me going back…

    • MkVII>F56

      You’re 100% correct. If you love your MkVI, just wait until you drive the MkVII. IT SLAUGHTERS MINI. Not even in the same world. It’s an A++. Every mag has said the “New” MINI is pointless compared to the GTI. It out handles, out accelerates, out looks, outlasts for sure, and it’s going to be available with a real LSD and DCC which vary the suspension from buttery smooth to rock hard. It’s also got much more tech and quality materials for the money. At $28K, you get REAL LEATHER, sunroof, you can vary the steering, suspension, transmission all separately, and you get touchscreen audio with a backup camera. It’s also got 5-doors for that price. The 2-door is going to be about $750 cheaper. Oh, I also forgot to mention the Fender stereo which is on par with the H/K. You can add the performance pack which has a real LSD, 10 more HP, bigger brakes, and badging for around $1200 bucks. It’s a steal. A modern day bargain. Look, I hate that I don’t like the new MINI. I’ve been a loyal buyer for years. I’m on my second S. One R53, and one R56 LCI. If MINI/BMW had made the F56 as fast, handsome, and well made as the GTI, I probably would stay with MINI. THEY DIDN’T though. I’m so bummed I’ll be leaving the MINI brand for my next purchase, but the MkVII GTI is the only car I’ve driven recently that has the same level of driver engagement as the first two gens of MCS, but also has refinement for long haul drives, and daily comfort. It’s designed for the ultimate level of driving, without being ridiculously priced. It’s a much better car than anything else in its class. I love it. I just wish some people would be real on here and tell BMW that we want MINI’s that are MINI’s. We don’t want Rolls-royce MINI’s or 7-series MINI’s. We want loud, firmly sprung, fantastic smile making machines. None of this dull responses, dull sounding engines, and lifeless powerbands.

      • http://scamper.com scamper

        “We don’t want Rolls-royce MINI’s or 7-series MINI’s.” That’s a great way to put it. All these bloated “crossover” looking Maxi MINIs aren’t even worth a second glance. I don’t know a Paceman from a Clubman. They aren’t real MINIs.

        Then again, neither is the Superleggera, and that totally caught my eye. I guess the point is: give me a tiny European two-door car, like they actually drive in Europe. (Electrified, for bonus points.)

      • lawrothegreat

        “buttery smooth to rock hard”?! I think that may be a slight over expectation!

        • MkVII>GTI

          It’s not. You can read about the DCC online. I’ve also had a Golf GTI for several months while working in Europe. It has the DCC and it’s amazing how much it alters the damping.

  • R.O

    “So what’s the plan to turn it around?”

    Is this from a “enthusiast” view or from a general consumer view? I don’t know the numbers (Gabe may) but I’m assuming the majority of MINI buyers are not enthusiast. Don’t do track days, don’t take part in MINI Clubs or in things like MOM or MOD type events. The majority of MINI buyers are using the car 99.9% of time as a daily driver. They purchased the car because they liked the look, think it has very good MPG and want something compact for Metropolitan areas.

    So if the majority of MINI buyers are not enthusiast, why is the general consumer not buying MINI’s as expected, should really be the question? Not us who visit and comment on Motoringfile.

    These are my thoughts. I don’t do track days and have only participated in a few “events” since the purchase of my R50 (2004). The reasons are varied for my non event participation (including having less than positive experiences with most of the events and attitudes and behaviors of the people participating in them (excessive speeding and excessively aggressive driving being some).

    So, over 1/2 the MINI dealers in my Metropolitan area (SF Bay Area) still have dealer markups on their cars (as high as $3,000 to 4,000), including on the ones people order via config. That’s so 2002-2006.

    People complain the MINI is too small. In fact I’ve seen that complaint here quite frequently, i.e. “not enough room in the back seat”, “how difficult it is to get a child seat into bk seat”, etc, etc.

    It’s understandable coming from the general consumer in the USA as people are obsessed with “big”, but for MINI enthusiast, I don’t get it. If you want more room, space, etc, buy something else – it’s a MINI! Just like I don’t get the reason for the paceman and then complain that’s it’s too difficult to get into or access the back seat. Well then buy the Countryman, after it has 4 doors. To me the Paceman was a bad decision by Mini.

    Next, price. Yes it has lots of high tech options, it’s been classified as a “Premium” small car, it’s parent company is BMW, etc, etc. but 30K for Mini with SAT Nav and a few other regular options is viewed as too expensive for the average consumer. People can find other cars that are larger and come with more standard features for the same price. I know folks here including the editors of Motoring file will point out that the MINI has: high quality material, great handling (go cart), tech stuff, is a fun car, etc. But look back up at my point on what 99.9% of the non enthusiast use the car for. Those folks really don’t care about “go cart handling”.

    They want excellent MPG, reliability, able to fit and park in metro areas and yes standard tech options.

    I haven’t test driven the new F56. I’ve sat in it a number of times at 2 different Auto shows and watched Gabe’s review and listened to DB review.

    What disappointments me the most are the following.

    1 per gabe MINI is attempting to separate the S from the Cooper (larger gap). While it’s understandable that the S should be more sporty than the Cooper, something I don’t agree with such as toning down (major toning down) the exhaust sound. My R50 has a nice sound, not an S sound but still nice. If I’m going to pay a “premium” price and it’s a MINI Cooper, don’t “dumb” down the sound.

    1. DB on a WRR podcast noted that the F56 Cooper has become a “Toyota”. If that’s true, then I might as well buy a Toyota and save money with the probability of ha better reliability rate.

    2. Internal gauges and layout (not talking about center speedo). If MINI is suppose to be a fun, zippy, go cart handling car, then make somewhat look like it with speedo, tack and fuel, etc gauge. not the “idiotic” 1/2 moon Tach and 1/4 moon idiot lights whatever it’s called.

    3. MINI states people didn’t like the toggle switches but yet the put a toggle swtich in the center to start and stop car. What the …? I wonder if the general consumer doesn’t like this either.

    4. No support for Android smart phones and only iphones.

    5. Still too many to get option A you have to also get options B, C, D, E, F and the cost of all those options.

    6. The only 15″ rim now available is horrible. In 2002-2005 there were 3 choices as no cost options.

    7. Limiting choices of paint colors to only the S or only the Cooper (been a pet peeve of mine since 2002).

    So in the end, should the real question be, why is the general consumer non enthusiast not purchasing a MINI.

    Maybe MINI should make an R50/R56 for those that want a small compact car that holds close to the classic and then the F56, F55, FXX for all others.

    • oldsbear

      DITTO (except for the last paragraph).

    • Nick

      Put the F56 interior in the R56 and you would have a good looking car.

  • Herr26

    If we are looking at the F55 then hopefully the North American market takes lead from Europe in which the F55 is impressively tracking well for first customer orders due for the fourth quarter of 2015. But yes there is a world of difference compared to the other MINI models to the F56. The F55 should reassure customers for modern technology as well as further flexibility.

    The next generation of MINIs starting with the Clubman will alter people’s perceptions of MINI especially as it addresses style , flexibility and individuality. Customers will go crazy for the Clubman even in North America with its adversity to wagons. The Clubman will be one of 2015s exciting cars.

    Also tracking well in Europe with serious customer orders already and interest is the 2er Active Tourer, more importantly the customer mix for the first units are existing BMW owners and new to BMW customers.

    • http://scamper.com scamper

      This trend toward giant cars (in general) is not reassuring. I liked my first MINI because it looked like a cute little retro bug. Put modern innards in the same form factor and I’d buy it all over again. Really looking forward to seeing what the next-gen Coupé looks like! I dig the minimalism of the 2016 Audi TT.

  • Kevin Bartlett

    There are too many factors by my count….. But other manufacturers have caught up in performance and have done so with more attractive pricing in some cases. So far as the Roadster/Convertible market goes, those cars have limited audiences and often fall off in sales volume after the first year of sales. Corvettes are notorious for big sales bumps when new models come out, especially in the enthusiast (read manual transmission) models. Customers buy them in the early run and sales flag in following years.

    This is why appealing to the enthusiast market doesn’t work in the long run for building a brand. Which is also why the F56 makes strides in appealing to the mass market. We are mostly enthusiasts here so we want a louder exhaust note and aggressive handling, while the mass market wants better fuel mileage and a more compliant ride. The F56 is the basis for the plan to fix the problem, and by the numbers Gabe reported it’s working as that car is selling. But as others have pointed out there are still aspects (Sport Seats) that appeal to enthusiasts, and deter the Average North American, which I didn’t realize was code for overweight. That I loved the seats when I went for my short test drive tells me I still want some enthusiast toys in my ride.

  • Captain

    My .02 for sales down:

    1.) constraint of F56 stock 2.) a sub-group of buyers that loves/wants F55 and will wait 3.) a sub-group of buyers that loves/wants new Clubman and will wait (including me) 4.) I believe 2. & 3. cannibalize the Countryman due to its inferior material quality, tech, etc. – if I want utility and/or 4 doors and/or AWD + better materials/tech – I am going to wait and pass on the Countryman in its current form

  • howardpoint

    Re: guest post—way too harsh. They bring us good honest information. It is a MINI blog and we want data that enhances our understanding

  • Nad

    It the price and the saturated American car market. Minis are premium built cars compared to the other brands and styles. With the options the price of a mini approaches the price of a BMW- it did for me or steers potential buyers to cheaper brands like a Mazada or VW. I built a countryman with the options I wanted and ended up with an X1 because it seemed more reasonable for the money (plus I really like rear drive cars) and it was a bit larger for my dogs. I still have a mini I drive and enjoy it and I plan to retain for a while. Also, Mini’s are mini anymore…

  • drofgnal

    I think there are numerous factors, almost all of them touched on by others here. Price may be number one. A fully outfitted S can cost you a bundle, yet I can go buy a Fiesta ST fully decked out with recarros for 25k with incentives and it was voted one of the 2014s most likely to become a classic. I haven’t read a bad review of one yet, in fact it’s many reviewers favorite hot hatch. Second, the roll out didn’t help. Too many delays, not all options available. Just not a smooth roll out. Third, although some don’t like the look, I think the F56 has gotten great reviews. Yes the base Cooper may seem like a toyota as one commenter said, but put that with base cooper with the adjustable suspension and dial in your setting. I wouldn’t have one without that option. That 3 cylinder turbo has given the Cooper just the torque it needs. Fourth, back to price again. Trying to appeal to a broader market, I have to wonder the lack of intelligence of dealers when ordering vehicles with options. They always seem to load them up. I checked my two closest dealers and couldn’t find but one Cooper less than 25k and many were approaching 28 to 30k, for a base Cooper. Come on guys for some people this is an urban car and there are a lot of people out there who are not going to want all those options, just good transportation. And at times I don’t understand the mix in options on a particular car. Put some thought into it, the non enthusiast is not likely to order a car and wait, he’ll move on to something else. Carry a mix of price ranges and have a good inventory of near base with no options except for heated seats and automatics. (My BMW dealer won’t order a car w/o heated seats). And reliabiltiy has also been brought up. Dead last place in many lists. (JD Powers). I had a R56 cooper. Few options, heated seats, fog lights, upgraded stereo, and sport seats. I figured without all the electronic wizardry it’d be fairly reliable. In the 6.5 years I had my 07 it was towed four times and left me stranded twice. All were towed and fixed under warranty, but it was unsettling none the less. Fortunately I had kept my beater 99 honda CR-V (which has never had a failure of anything, even now after 15 years of ownership and I still have it).

    But, I still love mini’s. I could see myself in a turbo charged 3 cylinder base model, lightly optioned, although I bought myself a 328d. We need a small SUV. The turbo three in a countryman with an 8 or 9 speed would do nicely. But I’ll also go look at the new coming Honda Vezel (us named HR-V) rumored to have a 1.5 turbo for the us market.

    • http://instagram.com/gabrielbridger Gabriel Bridger

      I spent a week with a Cooper recently and was more impressed than I expected. To the point I may have made a mistake ordering an MCS. The Toyota comment sounds like it was take out of context.

      • Drofgnal

        I really think a lightly optioned Cooper with just heated seats, adjustable suspension and maybe HK represents a great value for a good performance daily driver.

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

          Completely agree. Especially given the Cooper’s now greater power output.

        • r.burns

          +56 with Gabe and Nathaniel. The new Cooper is a revelation, a rebirth, so fun to drive compared to the R56 (and maybe idem than R50 but in a modern way)

  • anchoright

    I would say it has nothing to do with the car itself. The new car is different. Being different it’s going to make some people like it and other people not. That’s the nature of being different. Most MINI admirers already own a MINI. So to sell new cars to your current owners is not going to be quite successful simply because the car is “new”. Traditionally MINI is a car that doesn’t change much from year to year, so MINI owners aren’t looking to change their car from year to year. What needs to be done is to get the general public excited about MINI. Reach out to the multitude of Ford drivers or VW drivers and offer them something that their models don’t. Do another “Italian Job” movie with the new F56. That would definitely drive up sales. Or run aggressive ads. MINI does well with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram etc, but again, that is directed more to MINI owners and fans. We need to reach others.

  • Peter Brecht

    MINI buyers are different than BMW buyers, and simplicity in the number of models was always key to the way MINI owners purchase. MINI enjoyed the most success when it had three basic platforms: the Hardtop, the Clubman, and the Countryman. Then, they could customize the car as much as they wanted. Now, there’s the Coupe, the Roadster, and the Paceman, and those are just sitting around taking up space for the cars that sell. The F56 has been talked about by MINI for over a year now, and was late in launching by a few months, so it has to pick up traction in the market again AND as with any model changeover there’s a bit of lagtime when the marketing is spread out too early.

  • ToldYuh

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4ILcc2FWFA

    Go to 1:50 secs. The “S has lost it’s edge, it doesnt feel as fast, or sporty.”

  • Dusty

    The car is just plain ugly. They ruined the looks. It’s expensive. Reliability is very low. They’ve already had an issue with the new 3 cyl.. MINI and BMW dealers do not want the cars back. I experienced that when I went to trade it off. VW was much more accommodating. It doesn’t appear that MINI is attracting as many new buyers. Previous owners like myself have learned. It is a fun car, though it has many draw backs. The latest is the car is just so damn ugly. The nose, lip and tail lights…

    • Chilly

      What is the issue with the new 3 cylinder?

  • J B
  • Hurrydowns1

    The reason I gave up on MINI was the poor reliability and the high cost of repairs. It wasn’t just me, I’ve talked to several past MINI owners (2003-2007) and we loved the car but the cost and how long it took for maintenance, really killed it. Would love to come back, but only if the improve the basic aspects car.

    • SPICYJCWCOUPE

      Guess i must be the exception rather than the rule re MINI reliability. I’ve had 2 MINI’s…an 08 MCS hatch & my current ’12 JCW Coupe totaling about 75K miles. Only one glitch for each…AC had a problem on the 1st one at about 20K miles & the Bluetooth needed work on the Coupe…both under warranty! That’s it after nearly 7 years of ownership! Plan to continue with MINI for a F55 4 door hatch late this year when they hit US dealers.

  • Aurel
  • dr

    The new car is better in every technical way…… But it is hard to sell an ugly car! So don’t look for the sales to surge!

    The reliability issues on the R56 are coming home to roost. Even we die-hard mini loyalists can not recommend an 2nd gen MCS to their friends….

    I simply don’t buy the fuel economy argument. IMO….nearly every fuel saving ‘improvement’ has made autos less reliable and less desirable. The direct injection intake issues being the most prominent and expensive!

    When I drove the F56 with auto-start-stop not only was i annoyed by needing to adjust my voice level constantly (every time the car shut off it sounded like I was shouting at my passenger) I then realized that the starter gets 100 times more use, and unlike before, chances are high that it wont fail in a parking lot or driveway. It will likely fail in traffic giving you no choice but for a hefty tow bill.


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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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'12 JCW Coupe
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'11 Tesla Roaster 2.5 '11 Countryman Comparo
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JCW Stage I vs JCW Stage II
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1st Drive: '08 MINI Clubman
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Comparison: '08 BMW 135i
'06 R53 MCS vs '07 R56 MCS
'07 R56 JCW (Stage 1)
'07 MINI Cooper S Long Term
'07 BMW Z4 M Coupe
'07 MINI Cooper & Cooper S
Audio: '07 MC/MCS at the Track
'06 JCW GP Long term
Reader Review: JCW GP
'06 JCW Cooper S Long Term
Comparison: '06 Lotus Elise
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'04 JCW MINI Cooper Tuning Kit
'05 MCS: One Month Review
'05 MCS Auto
'05 JCW S 1st Drive
'05 MINI Cooper
'05 MCS Conv. Long Term
'05 MINI Cooper S
'05 MCS Cabrio 1st Drive
'04 JCW MCS First Drive
'04 MC w/JCW Tuning Kit
BMW M3 SMG Vs. MCS
'04 MINI Cooper CVT
'02 MCS 3 year Review
Autocrossing the MINI Range


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