Opinion: Is MINI Forgetting what it Means to be Mini?

As MINI prepares to design and engineer the next generation of MINIs, we thought we’d get the cards on the table and talk about whats working and what isn’t in the current generation. We firmly believe the current generation of MINIs are the best yet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some ways for them to get better.

And keep in mind that the thoughts here and in the comments aren’t for us or for you. This is for MINI themselves. The engineers and designers that will be working to make the 4th generation MINI (due in late 2021) the best yet.

The MINI hatch has gotten lighter every generation since the R53. That fact is often lost on the mainstream press for a couple reasons. For one the US spec cars have gotten slightly heavier each generation to meet increasingly stringent US crash standards. Secondly (and more importantly) it doesn’t fit neatly in the narrative a lot of the automotive press has with modern MINIs. That narrative goes something like this, “great car but it’s too large to be a MINI.”

The current generation is the best yet. Our current MINI – the 2017 JCW Clubman is a car that is almost perfect in our eyes. Yet that doesn’t mean MINI hasn’t changed (size and weight of the Clubman alone prove that point). While most of that change has been welcome (increased technology, reliability and performance), there are a couple aspects that worry us.

Weight may not be dramatically up in the hatch but the size (especially the mass in front of the wheels) is increased noticeably. We know the reasons – EU pedestrian crash safety and consumer desire for more space and utility. But that doesn’t mean we don’t we don’t long for the proportions of the R50 generation.

Yes the current range of MINIs which, in many ways, are better than anything before them. But what they’re missing is the immediacy that we used to know in MINIs. That includes (Number 1) better feedback through the steering wheel and (number 2) a engine that reacts quicker to driver input.

The Steering

The steering feedback gripe isn’t new. Since the MINI went to a EPAS system (electronic power steering system) the subtle feedback that we found in the R50 generation has been dulled. It got better with the F56 it’s still nowhere near where it was 15 years ago. This is a trend in the industry but unfortunately no where is it felt more than in a car like the MINI (where engagement is part of the brand promise).

The Engine

Engine responsiveness is something we’ve been on about since our first drive. Moving from a 1.6L to a 2.0L engine was part of the problem. But the fix is relatively simple. MINI and BMW need to improve the quality of the engine mechanical (a lightened flywheel for one) to allow for quicker response. The current Cooper S and JCW are the fastest MINIs yet but the power delivery never quite thrills the way the old supercharged 1.6L in the R53. Nor does it rev as quickly as the 1.6L in the R56.

Could the answer be moving to the three cylinder across all models? While we love that engine, that might be a tough sell in a world with cheap gas. We hold out hope that the second generation of the current engine range will focus on bringing responsiveness back through lighter weight materials and higher quality components.

From our angle we don’t believe MINI has fallen short in design, quality or dealer service. Seemingly that’s all been improved (some of it markedly). Where one could argue MINI has fallen behind is connection a driver feels to a MINI. The feel and feedback that made MINIs so thrilling to drive 15 years ago has matured perhaps a bit too much.

The good news is that you and I aren’t the only ones with this opinion. There are plenty inside MINI that are aware of some of this and actively trying to change it. Can that be accomplished along with the added safety, technology and comfort that the rest of the market is increasingly expecting? That’s the challenge they face.

Lets us know your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Jim Coco

    I know the article was written from a technical standpoint but since the cars sell pretty well in countries outside of the states, don’t you think the sales decline in the states could be also be due to some issues other than technical issues.?

    For example, folks in European and other counties are big buyers of small, or smaller cars.. size being more important than maybe other factors such as performance handling, torque, steering, fashion statements, etc.

    The new Mini when first sold here if I recall correctly was sold mostly on factors such as

    • cool
    • different
    • good handling
    • emotional attachment to the classic mini and heritage

    Folks buying a Mini in 2002 era would track their car on the ship.. forums would be abuzz talking about the car, the options, etc.. a big excitement over the Mini return.

    Fast forward 15 years.. yes, the car has changed quite a bit but so has the market.. The modern Mini, a 3rd generation hatch, though significantly different than the 2002 hatch to a casual, non-Mini person looks pretty much the same as a 2002 model.. How much of the sales decline in the states is maybe due to this? Those with a Mini hatch may like their older model better than the new model and refrain from buying one.

    I think the cute, the cool, the retro, the unusual factor being gone comes into play with the sales decrease in the states.. Those same factors, the cool, the retro,. the cute, the new factors may not matter as much in Spain, Ireland, or other countries and maybe they look at the modern Minis as more of just a car. This is why sales may be doing pretty good outside of the states.

    I am not equating the PT Cruiser to the modern Mini in technical aspects but there is some correlation from a cool, chic, neat, fashion statements. when the PT Cruiser first came out there was a big buzz about the car. Sales were strong.. pricing was strong.. notable people had one and made the news.. The Car was not really updated, outside of silly special editions that ended up turning the car into a caricature of itself and is somewhat made fun of now and mocked.

    So are there technical issues with the modern Mini? sure.. I think the issues in the states at least are broader than that though as far as sales struggles.

    • While I agree with a lot of what you say, the concept that MINI was simply a trendy, fashionable or retro car only holds water to a small extent. What I mean is that trends in the USA usually don’t last 12 years. MINI’s best year of sales in he U.S. was 2013. That’s not a trend, it’s nearly a dynasty in automotive terms.

      What I think Gabe is getting at is what I’ve been saying for years on White Roof Rdaio. Even though MINIs are still, in my opinion, the most enjoyable car in its price range today, they have changed considerably since my first Cooper S in 2003. A lot of the visceral, sporting feeling has been dialed out of the current generation for a number of reasons (safety, consumer demand etc.). Making the MINI larger, more comfortable and more “premium” is at odds with what made the MINI appealing starting in 1959 and continuing through the R50/R53 generation and slightly beyond.

      We’ve all heard enthusiasts and auto journalists say, “…it’s just not very ‘MINI’ anymore” usually referring to size. In reality, what’s not very “MINI” anymore is the spirit of the car and the marketing. As much as MINI desperately tries to market the brand to exalt its history and heritage, there is now a disconnect because the product, or the spirit of the product, no longer supports the marketing claim and the savvy U.S. consumer has figured it out. Don’t get me wrong, MINI is still a fantastic car but it has become a commodity and is no longer a stand-out product like it was in 2002-2006.

      The good news is that it’s not that hard to get back to standing out. The recent race wins and exceptional showings of the LAP Motorsports team in the Continental Tire Sports car challenge is a huge step in the right direction. It’s actually surprising to most people that MINI is doing so well. Personally, I’m not surprised at all. I’ve owned a 2016 JCW hardtop for almost 18 months and I feel the spirit is still in there and bursting to get out. This car is surprising and continues to put a smile on my face nearly as big as it was in 2003. MINI must get back to its roots of promoting itself as a driver’s car and not just a premium appliance to get the job done. It’s time to enjoy the journey once again.

      • Jim Coco

        It seems that you are attributing the sales decreases in the states to the driving attributes of the cars.. How do you explain rising sales in the other countries then?

        I still think that in the states in 2002 era that the new Mini, if not deliberately advertised as cool, retro, chic, quirky, was perceived that way. In Europe quirky cars were not only common but much more quirky cars can be seen in Europe.. the whole microcar genre was born in Europe. I still think that consumers in the states view the new Mini and cars in general differently than other countries. I think in the states cars can have a much more of a cool, trendy factor which can come and go pretty quickly..

      • Christian Sullivan

        It almost sounds like one way forward would be to ditch the “heritage” angle entirely and focus on positioning itself as the “pocket race car”.

      • What stunned me the most when I got to drive the Cooper, Cooper S and JCW back to back to back was how the lowly Cooper with the now deceased sport package (sports suspension (or dynamic dampers), sports seats, sport mode, summer tires) with a manual transmission felt the most immediate and visceral of the three cars despite being the slowest around an autocross course. You could have said Justa optioned to toss about for $21800.

        Talking to the dealers though, customers literally never ordered the sport package and so it was binned in 2016. Instead they wanted the essentials package (sunroof, heated seats, front/rear fogs), Loaded Package (comfort access, auto dimming mirrors, auto wipers, climate control), automatic transmission (at a ratio of 8:1), base interior (maybe the odd punch leather), and no other options. Maybe customers would pick up some dealer accessories (usually strips and/or mirrors) as toss-in on delivery, a winter tire set and call it a day. That continues to this day and you’ll be hard pressed to find a Justa on a Canadian dealers lot for under $28k, with some loaded cars hitting $40k AND actually selling for that.

        JCWs just fly off the lot and have made up a disproportionate amount of the custom orders since it’s debut in Canada. I was joking with a circle of sales managers and they said they’ve never sold this many JCWs. Meanwhile, the Cooper S cars sit there and collect dust. I think this is because the new Justa was a huge step forward for the base model, but the Cooper S simply wasn’t a big enough step up from the Cooper for most buyers who went straight to a JCW for an extra $2-3K. The old sales ratio of 14:7:1 is gone… now it’s more a mix of 6:2:1 with the Cooper and JCW pulling up the Cooper S slack.

        This is then playing out strangely in enthusiast circles. When we have Toronto MINI Club meets almost half of the new cars will be JCWs. At last night’s meet, F-series JCWs actually outnumbered the other FXX cars and the older generations.

        Personally, I think the declining sales in the US are a product of the “bigger is bestest” culture fueled by cheap fuel. Canadian sales are still breaking records year over year because small cars are still desirable here. In the US, small cars sales are almost universally suffering, car sales are suffering outside of the staple mid-size vehicles (Civic, Corolla, etc) and yet Crossover sales are booming, SUV and truck sales are also on a tear. Countryman is already back on track to be MINIs best seller, but the downside is that it’s cannibalizing Clubman sales. There are also whispers that MINI Canada may do away with the non-ALL4 Clubman because sales have been so difficult vs the 5-door.

  • Christian Sullivan

    Plenty of ink has been spilled over the changing performance aspects; here is my two cents on some of the other changes. Or at least, my impression of them.

    Background: I’m on my fourth (and likely last) Mini. I started with a 2002 R53 bought off the lot, ordered a 2006 R53 that I dragged around the world until I ordered a 2012 R60 (thought I needed something more “practical”), and then traded that in on an ordered 2016 F56.

    The brand has changed how they represent themselves and how they engage with their customer base, and not for the better. With my first Minis, there was an active drive to position itself as a quirky, fun car brand. We received silly marketing gifts (toggle switch stickers/overlays, bingo cards, etc), had a “hip” magazine and Motoring Advisors that really felt like enthusiastic members of the community. Mini seemed to get that they were building the feeling of being in a Club. “Owners Lounge”, the Mini ID, etc. Admittedly this was all PR.

    But that quirky sensibility carried over to some of the technical (not performance) aspects as well. A perfect example is Mini Connected. Mission Control, Dynamic Music- silly technical gimmicks that people might not actually use in practice, but it made a fun show and tell piece for our non-Mini owning friends. It helped keep the owners excited, and in turn, selling the brand as unofficial ambassadors. In the early days I spent a lot of time talking about my car in parking lots. I was warned, correctly so, that if you didn’t like talking to strangers, you might want to consider something other than a Mini.

    But Connected always seemed like an afterthought, with too few updates on firmware/software, each removing or breaking features. The goofy marketing disappeared. Fun design touches started disappearing as well- no more hidden gloveboxes (I understand the technical reason), window controls that were in the “normal” place vice a toggle switch, etc. And I don’t spend a lot of time talking to people about it anymore. In part, because it’s become popular enough that no one thinks it’s novel to see a Mini in the parking lot. But I think it’s also a perception thing as well- it’s not a goofy British movie heist car. It’s a practical German “grocery getter”.

    Each successive version seems to get more blah and vanilla- the quirky car brand that I was attached to is gone. Factor in the changes to performance and it just isn’t as compelling a brand anymore.

    So, my opinion? Look backwards as a brand- Get back to the performance characteristics that get the enthusiasts happy. Re-Engage with your customers to make them loyalists and brand ambassadors. Design technical features that are innovative and unique to the brand (as opposed to BMW bolt-ons).

  • oldsbear

    Marketing by MINI USA has to be part of the reason for declining sales. The brand has no image, and the pricing tries to nibble you to death.

    Is it a fun car? Is it a quirky car? Is it a “premium” car? When you can sell Kia Soul to the tune of rodents rockin’ the town, it should be possible to sell MINI with some sort of gimmick. The gokart image was a good one. What can we do with that beginning? Have a little fun with it? Maybe an F56 carving the streets with gokart underpinnings?

    Then you have the pricing and the availability of options. I just looked at the Cooper S on the configurator. The only “free” paint now is Moonwalk Gray. Metallic colors used to be “premium.” Now plain, old white and red and not-really-orange cost EXTRA?! No spare tire, no jack; cost-saving, but not helpful when the run-on-flat is shredded. Turn-on the rear fog light? Oops, that will cost you $100. Cloth upholstery that doesn’t leave you sweated to the seat? Add-on at least $750. Mood lighting? It was “free.” Now, it’s $250. Get back some of that MINI handling lost over the years? Order the sport suspension! Wait! Sport Suspension isn’t even offered!

  • StevenV2

    Unlike probably most of the “Motorfilers”, I have owned a 1965 Mini 1275S, and was really excited to buy a new F56 Cooper S when they announced distribution to the USA. The 2006 Mini I purchased came with the upgraded suspension, mechanical LSD, and anything else that would add performance and handling. I picked the car up on 1 NOV 2005, and realized it was almost 25 years to day since I sold my 1965 1275S. Although 25 year-old memories are usually a bit fuzzy, driving off the dealer lot that morning it sure felt like how I remember my 1275S.

    Once my 2006 went off warranty, on went the undersized pulley, racing headers (no catalytic converter), low flow exhaust, and ECU reprogramming. Fast forward to the third generation, when I took a drive in a 2016 Cooper S, while my car was in the dealership for an oil change. My thoughts on the car’s handling and acceleration was summed up in three words—a bit underwhelming. Not to mention the price increase over the last 14 years. So I still have the 2006, with only 44,000 mile on it sitting in the driveway waiting to be passed on to one of my grandsons in about 8 years. Will I replace this MINI with another? Nope. MINI has managed, for me at least, to show how in terms of a performance to dollar ratio, how NOT to succeed in continuing to keep customers. The only way I can get the same seat of the pants performance now is to spec a JCW, that will cost me about 45K. An absolutely horrible value easily remedied by getting another brand that will out perform the JCW. On that note, I think I’ll start looking for a car that does not advertise lane departure as a desirable feature in lieu of over 0.90 g on the skid pad.

    • Christian Sullivan

      Steven- Unless I miss my mark, I think you meant to say that you bought an R53 when they hit the states.

      I also waited for my warranty to lapse for my pulley upgrade, my only regret was that I waited that long. I’m amazed that you’ve been able to restrain yourself though- 44k is shockingly low!

      • StevenV2

        I did not buy immediately, since my military aviation experience showed new aircraft to have lots of design flaws not detected during the first years of production. We used to call the Blackhawk helicopter, the Crash-hawk. I drove a 2004 MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S back to back and found the seat of the pants acceleration to be identical up to about 40 MPH. In 2005 MINI changed the gear ratios in the Cooper S, solving that problem among others. So I pulled the pin in the summer of 2005, confident in my purchase decision. My only regret was ordering the sunroof, 85 extra pounds of glass, frame, and motor, I think I have used it 4 times in almost 12 years.


    An important topic and one I hope does reach the MINI decision makers. Alot of what is already posted covers the main topic, especially Todd’s post–spot on. Gabe has steering feel and dull engine. Todd has the “connection” to the spirit of the original which to me is a key issue. The new car is a more refined car no doubt, but in the refinement process ALOT of the MINI characteristics/touchstones are being massaged away. That goes for the interior and exterior treatments. There is a balance between refining and maintaining the core elements of a design/product. I haven’t seen many comments on styling, but I will add that to the mix. The banner picture is perfect. Look at all the models, the F56 is the least attractive of the bunch. Looks like it was taffey pulled, and the green house squashed. The oversize tail lights and cross eyed fish front end don’t help either. I love my MINI, I love driving it and I love it’s looks and uniqueness. When the turbo hits the Prince engine it is a hoot. I have driven the F56 many times as a loaner and it is dull, dull, dull. More refined, yes, but dull. I don’t want to, nor can I afford to spend 40k on a JCW to get some F series excitement. Those words: visceral, immediate, responsive, unique, quirky, spirit, that’s what is at the core of a “real” MINI. A redesign needs to bring those things back!!

    • Jim Coco

      The issue is much more than driving dynamics.. The driving dynamics are the same basically around the world and sales are going well outside of the states. The modern means different things to different people based on where they live. In the states when the modern Mini came out it was almost 100% sold on being cool, new, trendy, chic, quirky, and yes, good handling.

      MOST people do not care about torque, turbo boost, being “:connected” etc.. some drivers do, sure.. but MOST do not.. you can mock or make fun of the Kia Soul all you want and try and say it does not compete with the modern Mini.. on driving dynamics it may not but for a boxy type, practical car that is cool, trendy (though not so much cool and trendy anymore as time goes on).. it most certainly does.. as well as the Nissan Rogue compares to the larger new Minjis.. The Kia Soul had sales of almost 150,000 in 2016. The Nissan Rogue is the # 1 selling Nissan now..

      If the cool factor of the modern Mini is long gone in the states other issues are needed to sell the car.. price, practicality, looks, reliability, dealer network, marketing etc.

      One more thing.. being frugal is in now.. The classic, original Mini was always a value play, even with the larger wagons/clubmans.. There is no value play with modern Minis, none. MOST young drivers do not put a value on being seen in a $35,000 or $ 40,000 car… nor do they car one bit about turbo boost or being “connected”

      • CA-MINI

        I agree, most people do not care about the topics we are discussing. Most people buy a car as not much more than an appliance. This taps into something I had mentioned in a previous post. What does BMW want MINI to be in the marketplace?? IMO, in the US market, MINI can not be much more than a boutique car, meaning, hardcore dedicated owner/buyer base with designs and focus that reach and feed that base. The downside to that of course is a limitation on sales. I personally believe had BMW/MINI stayed true to the fan base, US sales would not have eroded as we have seen. A lot of that erosion is a loss of core fan base buyers, coupled with an escalating cost of entry/poor value proposition to younger people and new buyers. BMW/MINI was willing to drift away from the base to trade MINI “DNA” for more widespread appeal. While this has worked very well globally, it has failed in the US. I think that is because the US market is somewhat unique (overall much larger vehicles, cheaper fuel, different vehicle tax structure etc.) While I am not putting the Kia Soul down (my Dad owns one and is very happy with it) The Soul and Rogue are very mainstream, broad appeal cars, with all the compromises that go with mass market appeal. I can design a MINI to be very, very close to exactly the way I want it–that is a great asset, and something the MINI core greatly appreciate. Try and do that with a Rogue or Soul–outside of the color scheme you get 3 or 4 package options, a few trim levels and some dealer add ons–not much freedom. And forget about getting a manual transmission. I do believe BMW/MINI can get back to the core “MINI” spirit, and containing costs is an important part of that. I hope BMW/MINI is listening!!

  • Christian Sullivan

    Off topic, but my earlier post was “detected as spam”.

    Gabe, any insight as to why this happened?

  • Reuben Herries

    As a MINI Salesman in New Zealand and Australia, who first got involved with MINI in the R56 JCW Challange racing days. Yes the cars are softer with less feed back and character…. but hell they are better cars in general. When I started selling, we used to tease the customers if they asked for reverse sensors, as in “can’t you park a MINI?!” but the world is a different place now. The selling market (the only market that matters to BMW) is now just an arms race of who can fit the most features into the cars.

    The other big thing is that the “true loyal MINI die-hard” simply does not buy enough cars to justify making them less comfortable… I am continually being told they’re too noisy and too firm now! and they’re a million times softer than 5 years ago, let alone 10!!

    thats my 10c

  • Jamie

    I currently own a 2010 Mini Cooper base model. I love driving it and wish I had thought of buying one way back when I first started driving.

    A few months ago I had my car into the Mini dealer ( and yes, the Mini dealer folks are passionate and amazing) for routine maintenance. They convinced to me let them keep my car over the weekend and loaned me (free of charge) a 2016 Mini S. Knowing this was primarily a sales pitch, I still took them up on it (why not, right?).

    My first thought was the power was going to get me in trouble with law enforcement, my second thought was it was simply not as much fun and felt a heck of a lot bigger than my Mini and I wanted mine back.

    Every now and then I find myself wanting a new Mini, nothing wrong with mine, but I do drive the heck out of it, even going on 2000 mile round trip road trips several times a year. I worry about upcoming breakdowns and what winters in Michigan will eventually do to it.

    I look at 2015 models, but what is that ugly black bar on the front that ruins the esthetics? So for now I will keep mine and smile whenever I have an excuse to drive it.

  • anchoright

    Mini is a driver’s car. It’s a car for the motorer who is not afraid to weave around traffic and carve up the road. It’s a car for people who like to shift through gears and burn the tires in third while taking a curve. If we want comfort, we can do that at home on the lounge. We need fun. We need a car that will put a smile on our face. We need response when we hit the gas pedal. We need to hear the gurgle of the exhaust as we blow by someone in one of those big cars. Frankly, I don’t care about selling cars to the masses of people who buy cars like they would buy a washing machine. I want to motor.

    • Eric

      Like all manufacturers, Mini’s aim is about selling not to just satisfy a thousand hardcore drivers. Or I suggest you buy a Lotus, a Caterham…

  • glangford

    I’m sure my opinion here will be in the minority, but I’ll go ahead. When I read about feeling connected, visceral feedback etc., many characteristics people loved in the early R53/50, I cringe a bit. That car was not a great daily driver. The R56 era improved that somewhat, now the F era has brought that more mainstream. I doubt they’ll ever go back, but I do hope they get pricing under control. For those who want that connection a properly spec’d JCW to have a more ‘connected’ car, it will cost you as much as a decent spec’d 3 series almost. Hardly a value proposition the R53 was.

    As far as US sales, I wouldn’t be so quick to solely relate that to the current design of the car. Gas is cheap. I just filled up out Forrester XT with Premium at Costco for 2.25 a gallon. SUV’s rain king nowadays, people aren’t looking much for small efficient transportation, regardless of how fun it is.

    Also, I’m always perplexed by articles like this after reading stellar Motoringfile reviews of new editions of Mini.

    • I can answer that last question. In almost every review we write we make mention of modern MINIs being both excellent small cars – many times the best in their segment. But we also don’t pull any punches on the small things that MINI isn’t quite getting right.

      The current crop of MINIs are the best yet. They’re dramatically better in almost every way than anything that came before them. What this article does is break down what is behind the word “almost”.

      • Michael Cohen

        Its a perfect article. Almost seems to include everything that enthusiasts care about. 🙂

  • jason

    I’m 49 now and have grown up on several fast Alfas. I currently still own 2 Alfas (1 road and 1 race, both over 30 years old…), but my wife owns a 2007 R56, awesome car, had it for about 8 years. It really craps all over the Alfas, it’s faster and handles as well as most of them, but it’s reliable and everything just works well. My wife’s first car was a Mini Cooper, it was small, light, fast and extremely raw. I likened it to a big go-kart that holds 4 passengers, so much fun. The R56 I feel is a good progression of the original Mini IMO, I hope the current models are better still? We’ve been looking at buying a new Clubman JCW as the R56 is getting a bit small for our tall 14 year old son. However, we thought we’d wait til now (July) when the new changes take place (Apple Carplay etc) but have been told by the local dealer here in Australia that if we want to order one now, we won’t get it til next year. WTF? Is this the normal wait for a new Mini? That in itself is enough to make us look elsewhere unfortunately. I’ve been reading about the MF loan car for months and have been convinced that the new Clubman JCW is for me as it’s still seems like a drivers car, but is the long order time worth the wait? Cheers, Jason.


    They are just not engaging anymore. I still long to drive my ’04 R50 because it makes me smile instantly. Get that Tritec revved a bit and don’t bother braking in corners. Plus, after 129k+ miles and over 13 years, it’s still as solid as day one. The first gen was new, different, and a blast. The current gen I have tried to like. I’ve tried hard. My dad has one and likes it. It’s definitely better built than before- it’s just so much design compromise. You sit too low, look out a slit of a windshield over a giant hood for such a small car, and if you raise the seat your head scrapes the ceiling.

    Then there’s the value- to equip a MINI like my new VW GTI would be ~$10k more. I’m fine paying a bit more for a desirable car ($2-3k max). I’m not okay with a $10k difference for a car that doesn’t handle as great and doesn’t feel as fast. I’m still dismayed that MINI lost me to VW. I actually turned in my BMW wagon for it.

    I’ll always have my R50. I just wish MINI offered something I wanted now.

  • Jason A Debski

    I think the question stands, who is MINI selling the car to? They bounce around like a child who can’t decide on which candy to indulge in. What I believe to be a problem with all car executives is that they don’t understand the car culture. People who love a culture are not going to turn over their car every 3 years, its an investment of time, love, sweat, enjoyment to get their car unique to them. Then start all over again? Do auto executives see that these cars become part of a family and that the dedication people have to them? I don’t know where the balance comes in between making money and supporting the culture you have created.

    There are two MINI owners out there. Ones that find the passion of what the car is, the others are looking for something to push peddles in to get to work. There is a balance in there somewhere, but MINI can’t seem to find it. Make the car profitable to the company, but its not about quantity of vehicles on the road, but quality and love of the ones that are on the road. Push your BMW brand for the passionless driver.

    I wouldn’t trade my R53 for a new one for free. That car was damn near perfect for a vehicle to be passionate about , I don’t need more toys, I need a car that not only handles the road, but lets me become one with blacktop as I corner.

    • MikeUK

      I couldn’t agree more. I regret recently selling my R53 after having it for 13 years. All those memories of the fun it brought.

      I used to get compliments in the street about my car, and kids even waved at times. Finding an excuse to drop down to 2nd gear at nearly any speed under the limit was pure joy.

      Now they are more common I get that the public find them less desirable, but there’s lots of advertising for Fiat 500’s et al that are hot little pocket rockets with style. The very niche my R53 filled is now taken up by other brands. Such a shame there’s lots of choice at MINI now, as long as you want something more grown up.

      For people to be passionate about a car it needs to be exceptional at something, and possibly a compromise elsewhere. I’m struggling to find the “exceptional” at the moment. Sadly my R60 may be the last MINI I own.

  • Nick Dawson

    No, is the answer to the question.

    At 181,214, MINI global sales for the first six months of 2017 are at a record high.

    Two points:

    1. By and large, the US does not – and never has – liked small cars.
    2. Allowing for inflation, US fuel prices are at a historically low level.

    https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/ click on ‘full history’ to see weekly gasoline prices from August 20, 1990 to July 10, 2017