And that is not an understatement. Following the official launch of the F55 and its subsequent review by a number of outlets, Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler shares his thoughts on the status of the MINI brand:
Think of it this way: if the original Mini was built by a company that had the wherewithal and finances to continually develop it, 911-style, as it should’ve been, I suspect it would be a very similar car – and model range – to what it is today. Whether you like BMW owning MINI or not, the German company has done brilliant things with the brand, and will continue to do so.
When taking a step back and looking at what BMW has achieved with MINI over the last 12 years, one can’t deny that the German company has achieved great success. Even if the new FXX series shares the UKL platform with its BMW counterparts, the MINI DNA has been preserved from a production, design and marketing standpoint. Over that period of time, we’ve even seen other manufacturers (e.g. Fiat, Citroen) resurrect their respective icons based on a business model that is strangely similar to MINI’s.
The Auto Express editor-in-chief also looks into MINI’s future: As well as driving the new five-door and giving it a tough workout against a bigger, more powerful and more expensive VW Golf GTI, this week we also reported the news that a mini MINI – previewed by the 2011 Rocketman concept – is back on the agenda. I must admit, MINI’s decision not to push on with development always seemed strange to me, but now the car could be about to be reinvented using more traditional (cheaper) materials, but with the same amount of style, quality, fun and technology as the rest of the range.
The Rocketman is obviously the MINI that many fans are waiting for and it seems that the concept is closer than ever to becoming reality, but will it? Peter Schwarzenbauer, who sits on the BMW board and is responsible for the MINI and Rolls-Royce brands, mentioned that one strategy the Group is investigating consist in having a lineup of five “superheroes” with the FXX series. Since the Hatch, the Cabrio, the Clubman and the Countryman already make four “superheroes” – insert Fantastic Four joke here – the Superleggera and the Rocketman are what’s left. Given trends characterizing the future of the automotive industry (i.e. car-sharing, public transportation, self-driving vehicles), my bet is on the Rocketman.
Anyways, how do you look at BMW’s track record with MINI? Which model do you think will be the fifth “superhero”? Let us know in the comments below.