Are MINI’s Special Editions Not Special Enough?

The special edition MINI Seven was unveiled yesterday and the Internet seems ablaze with opinions. Jalopnik is doing their click-bait thing and calling it a deperste hipster malarkey while others are wondering why it’s worth even reporting in. The reality is that MINI has a mostly successful history with global special editions dating back to the 2006 model year. But before we go any further lets outline the typical two types of special editions.


1. Global special edition. This typically has unique trim, seat materials, exterior colors and badging. In other words it’s a look that cannot be duplicated with normal options. Case in point, the MINI Seven.


2. Market specific special edition. Here MINI USA or other regional MINI outposts take off the shelf color and trim and add stickers. This can sometimes be combined with port or dealer installed off the shelf accessories a la the MINI Carbon edition.


3. Limited edition models. In this example MINI thoroughly re-engineers a car to create a unique limited edition model that has unique color, trim along with chassis and drivetrain enhancements that aren’t available elsewhere. The GP for instance.

Now the big questions:

  • Which do you prefer?
  • Which would you like to see MINI make more of?
  • What are you willing to spend?

Everyone wants a GP type of vehicle but there are economic realities with a limited edition model that special edition packages don’t have to content with. So what special or limited edition MINI would you like to see?

  • minicooperracer

    As a previous owner of a CheckMate – I like most of the special editions (Global & Market). I almost ordered a Carbon edition but it was a tad too expensive for what you get. I think the better question though may be “Are they bringing in new customers?” because most of the people I know that have purchased one have already had at least one MINI and would be a repeat customer even without a special edition.

  • Overall, I love that BMW’s carrying over BMC’s tradition of SEs but I find them hit or miss.

    • Nick Dawson

      The ‘Seven’ is hugely symbolic for BMW. MINI Seven not only celebrates BMC’s heritage, but also celebrates BMW’s own heritage. The very first BMW motor car was the Dixi, launched in October 1928, and was effectively the British Austin Seven built under licence, and badged as a BMW.

  • Then there are the one-offs from MINI special events… these cars get sold to customers.

    I own the black and red JCW and I know the owners of the blue one and the one with the Lambos through the Toronto MINI Club…

    I also previously had an R53 Rallye Edition (Canada only) and it was a great market specific version.

    Chili Red + Black, Black English Leather, anthracite interior, DSC, Flame Spokes (Go team horseshoes!), power fold mirrors, foglights, chrome line, auto dimming mirrors, heated seats and mirrors, HK sound and No charge maintenance (back before that was officially a thing)

  • John McLauchlan

    I’m a fan of the limited edition cars, such as GP1, GP2, WC50, and Goodwood. They push the envelope farther with bespoke content. Low production numbers help with resale too (ok, not on the Goodwood)

    Not a big fan of the global special editions however, as most of them are primary colors, stripes, and badges, and can be custom ordered in large quantity.

    MINI USA has at least tried to be unique with their USA-specific special offerings like the Clubman Rally Editon, Carbon Editon, and Last of the Supercharged Editon. Though some of these weren’t always successful (Olympic Edition anyone?)

    Some of the disapointment with the latest Seven is that it falls into the badges and stripes category. We’ve seen other markets getting more interesting cars like the 2015 Challenge 210 and upcoming JCW Challenge Edition. If MINI USA would offer like that here and all will be forgiven 🙂

  • I’m totally counter to most of the comments here. Sticker jobs and custom upholstery isn’t what will sell more MINIs. I think they are just marketing hype. Are the cars faster? Do they handle better? Do they have any other real features that differentiate them from what isn’t a Special Edition? Do these cars really do anything about the closing gap between what MINI offers and what other brands offer? When I look at the monthly sales numbers and what’s happening at MINI, I don’t see how these do any more than distract from the fact that MINI doesn’t have enough product differentiation within it’s own portfolio, and the value proposition that is under siege by other manufacturers. Sure, the colors may look nice, and they will be rare when compared to some of the more standard offerings. But I really doubt that they will command any more value 3-5 years from now, and I doubt that Edmunds or Kelly Blue Book will even list the options packages as something that commands more value in a used car sale. It’s fine that they offer things like this, but it’s not what MINI needs to really grow sales here in the US.

    • R.O.

      Here-Here Dr O, well stated.

    • If performance is the only criteria, then yes, this theory makes sense. However, for many MINI owners there is more to owning a MINI than how it accelerates or how it takes a turn. If these are the only truly important criteria for judging extended value, front wheel drive cars probably wouldn’t even be foremost on the list for most performance-minded drivers. These cars have character – much more than many other cars on the road. MINIs are uniquely customized by their owners because rarity matters to some. So I would contend that factory customization by way of modles like the Camden, Playboy R58, or any combination of custom color scheme, materials, decals, wheels, etc. are likely to have value to a segment of MINI buyers years from now, as these are people who value differentiation as much as those who value performance upgrades. Most people don’t track their cars, so the benefits of a GP are never fully realized for these people. I would contend that most MINI owners value the styling and appearance as much as they do performance specifications. The Goodwood is a great example of a rare MINI. Cashmere? Lambs wool? Roll-Royce? So it can’t keep up with a GP on a track, but it has many luxurious things the GP doesn’t. A fan of Playboy and the R58 will always find extra value in finding a low-miles version of that model.

      • And how many Camdens were bought? If one thinks of these as ways to get free marketing without paying for add space, where’s the data that shows that they impact sales? MINI has problems now in the US with declining sales numbers in a year where light vehicle sales are rising, not dropping. If we want MINI here in the long term, this is the issue that must be addressed. And SEs like these are one’s that play to the choir, not really to new buyers. “Character” is all fine and good, but there’s a lot of it out there from other vendors as well. What MINI needs is sales. Will this drive a lot of sales? Here in the US, for the first 5 months of the year, MINI sales are down 14.5% compared to last year. How much of this 2,618 car hole will these Special Editions fill?

        • Pretty sure they sold every Camden they made. Haven’t seen one on a lot in years. 🙂

          Declining MINI sales could be attributed to a number of causes, but I doubt availability of custom models is one of them. Special editions are a means to attract people to the brand and keep existing ones interested in upgrading; they aren’t built for moving the needle substantially on overall sales figures like introducing a new model does.

          Many enthusiasts badmouthed the new design, especially the front end and taillights. Others criticized the new interior changes, saying it looks like every other car out there with square vents instead of round ones. Others aren’t happy with the trend of bigger models, even though their best-seller for years has been their largest model, the Countryman. Still others have said they refuse to buy another MINI unless they make the Rocketman. Some of the smallness and quirkiness has been removed from the cars recently and that put people off.

          Another reason is that there haven’t been any significant increases in fuel economy, despite introducing a 3-cylinder engine. My wife’s 2016 Clubman and its 3-cylinder turbo engine gets about the same MPG as my 2013 JCW Coupe, both of which are less efficient than her 2008 Clubman. That really disappointed her.

          Another reason could be technology. My 2013 with MINI Connected has no upgrade path of any kind. Three years later and there’s no CarPlay, no Android Auto, not even direct iPhone 6 compatibility has been added via a firmware update. That system also doesn’t recognize voice commands nearly as well as my phone does. I can tell you, I’ll think twice before paying for an expensive option like that again without some sense of future upgradability. While it’s unlikely people are making a car purchase decision based on connectivity, I’m certain it’s one of several important factors for modern car buyers. They should be updating these systems more often, as the sell-and-forget model is going away in favor of a more software/app/phone-centric model of frequent updates.

          Making a RWD or AWD Superleggera and/or the Rocketman, or a serious Hardtop EV could serve as a halo car and go a long way toward bringing more customers to the brand and keeping those who are not biting on current models from leaving. If they make the Superleggera, I’ll trade up to that for sure.

          As for other cars having competitive character, I can’t think of one except the Fiat that come close, and its fit and finish, and performance, isn’t close to that of the MINI.

        • There is no platform for a Superleggera or Rocketman. There in no plans for a pure EV. There is no business model that can pay for a new platform for either. GTI sales aren’t tanking like MINI. There’s good value there. If the Special Editions are meant to attract new buyers to the brand, I don’t see any evidence in the sales numbers that it works. The very first “special edition” was one the celebrated the Monte Carlo rally victories. Combinations of stickers, with the JCW supercharger and some other bits and pieces. Many sat on lots and were sold as normal cars without the stickers applied….. While OTA upgrades will come, I’m not sure that a huge percentage of cars actually support them. They will, but not yet. The points about tech roll out are spot on. I think that MINI trying to fight the tide against Android Auto and Apple Play is a loosing battle. It’s the user-interface tail trying to wag the dog of the tides of technology.

  • R.O.

    Which do you prefer? A SE that’s sportier but not a GP. That would include the ADA pkg, pwr fold mirrors w/autodim, Challenge exhaust, LED HL & fog (or sports pkg), interior color line to match exterior body color, either NAV or VB. HK sound, Price: max $32,000.

  • Here’s a Special Edition I’d consider, let’s call it the MINI Pure Sport: Custom hood. No fake scoop, no fake longitudinal power bump for a transverse I4 engine. Adjustable Coil Overs. Camber-Plates. Forged 17×7.5″ wheels, running 215-40 VR 17 summer rubber Cleaned-up from lower fascia. No fake anything. Single-sided SS exhaust, 2.5″ diameter. Cloth Sport Seats. Oil Pressure and Coolant Temp gauges. They could even throw in some stickers and badges. It wouldn’t require any new engine. For those that really know how to use them, the coil-overs and camber plates would make a difference. There are three and a half new parts (hood, lower front fascia, exhaust and trim to make it work in the rear). All the rest are bolt ons. Should be able to offer it for about a three grand premium. And since tons would want the hood and the fascia, they could bank a lot of money on parts sales too! Heck, make the hood aluminum, and make the package $5k! This car would work for those that want performance, as it would be capable of better handling. This car would appeal to those that want a distinctive ride (stickers, badges, and exclusivity). This car would appeal to those that want to look like they drive a track car but don’t track (set the coil overs on softer settings, and don’t lower at all) This car would get the attention of the magazines (free marketing). Heck, let buyers run it through the MINI options offerings and they’d get even more margin! But personally, I’d offer it only in Chili Red/White Top, with the only option the slush-box transmission…. But to maximize sales, I wouldn’t resent it if the made a “Pure Edition” for every platform and let buyers option away…. But this is just me……

    • oldsbear

      You have my vote for MINI Marketing Director, Doctor O!