Rumor: Next Generation MINI to Get its Own Platform

The next generation MINI due in the years ahead could get its own MINI-specific platform. A platform that isn’t bound by BMW design requirements and thus (theoretically) better suited for smaller MINIs. That rumor (along with a few others) comes from this month’s Automobile Magazine. But fair warning, not all of these rumors stand up.

The juiciest is the rumor we’ve already reported. BMW is in negotiating with Geely to co-develop a small car platform that will underpin the next MINI. According to Automobile, MINI has concluded that using the new FAAR front drive platform destined for new BMWs would be too pricey and might not suit the brand. Automobile paints a picture that this Chinese platform sharing is a brand saving move. While that sounds dire, it’s not what we hear.

We’ve heard that BMW is investigating collaboration in small MINIs only and that largest MINIs (the Countryman for instance) will continue to use the larger BMW front drive platform.

What does hold water is the timeline. Because this is rather late in the game for the proposed 2020 release,this move would see BMW adding two more years into the current lifecycle pushing the debut to 2023.

Is MINI Going back to its Roots?

This extra time will give MINI more ability to plan a series of small models meant to refocus the brand.

Over the past few months we’ve heard MINI designers make casual mention of everything from smaller overhangs to more integrated technology all playing a role in future MINI designs. This move would seem to align with that spirit.

The article also notes several new names for MINIs (Metro Runner, Metro Cruiser and Metro Adventurer) but those appear to be working titles and likely not final model names. The key point is that these new models will be evolutions or in some cases (likely the Clubman) reinventions of current products

Finally the article points to BMW moving some production to China but we’d be surprised if that was at the expense of the Oxford plant. However given increasing cost pressures of electrification, certainly nothing is off the table.

  • Mr Remi

    I pray this is true. Have been waiting for this kind of news. But I’ll happily take a rumor.

  • Nick Dawson

    “Let’s start this story with a look at BMW’s latest casualty list. Next year, we bid farewell to the 3-door 1 Series, already a classic in its own right in manual M140i form. Also on the chopping block at the end of their current production runs are the 2 Series Gran Tourer, the 2 Series convertible, and the MINI Cabriolet”.

    Had the source for this article been anyone other than Georg Kacher, I would have taken it with a pinch of salt. As it is, Georg is on first name terms with all the top brass in the German auto industry and is well respected. His scoop articles over the past decade have proven to be unsurprisingly accurate.

    I am not surprised to learn from Georg that the 1-Series 3-door and 2-Series Gran Tourer – neither sold in the US – and 2 Series Convertible are being axed, but the axing of the MINI Cabriolet – the best selling Cabriolet in the UK and second best selling Cabriolet in Europe – is a surprise. Then again it shouldn’t be.

    China is the world’s biggest market for automobiles and Asians in general like practical vehicles, and all the above are impractical, as were the MINI Roadster, Coupe, Paceman and to a lesser extent the Clubman. I am intrigued, however, to learn that the Clubman will be re-invented as the “Metro Cruiser”, hopefully without barn doors.

    • MikeUK

      I seriously doubt the word “Metro” will appear anywhere near a new MINI.

      The Austin Metro was never really favorably looked upon, and the Rover Metro fared little better. My Rover Metro was a great little car that had bucketloads of reliability and economy, but sadly little space left in the lineup for style.

      Here in the UK, most of our cars in the 60s/70s/80s were crap, or good but with crap reputations. We’d always look back at those cars if the names were re-used. The Mini was one of the few we all loved.

      MINI may as well use the name ‘Edsel’ in the US as ‘Metro’ in the UK 🙂

      • Nick Dawson

        I totally agree with you Mike – I suspect that the names ” Metro Runner, Metro Cruiser and Metro Adventurer” are all internal code names.

        BTW, I think you are being a little unkind to the “dear old Austin Metro”. It sold a total of more than 2 million in its various incarnations, and was for a while Britain’s best selling car, even outselling its nearest rival the Ford Fiesta. It was actually a remarkable achievement bearing in mind that it was developed on a shoestring budget – Ford spent more money on developing the engine alone for the new FWD Escort than BL spent on developing the whole of the Metro, a budget which included the cost of the new factory building, and all the robotic assembly equipment. Unbelievable by today’s standards! 🙂

        • MikeUK

          Oh, I loved my Metro for sure. Especially when comparing it to Fiesta’s of the day.

          I got over 120,000 miles without a hitch (then it was just a head gasket that failed) and 80,000 on the rear set of tyres before they started to perish rather than wear.

          Unfortunately the Austin / Rover name carries stigma from beauties like the Princess and Allegro. Even the ones that could keep the wheels on!

          The USA is lucky you’ve such a choice of flamboyant cars, that even if they were a bit rough, looked fabulous and stayed in people’s hearts 🙂

    • He’s been plenty wrong before. There’s no way that MINI is axing the convertible next year. Especially given the rumored extension of this generation. They’ll need work hard to keep the line-up fresh and axing a key model isn’t logical.

      • Nick Dawson

        Gabe – just to clarify, Georg doesn’t say next year, he said at the end of its current production run – and he goes on to say that two years are being added to the current MINI’s production run, which takes it to 2023. Convertible/Cabriolet sales are falling worldwide so it’s only to be expected.

        • I mis-read it then. Even still – it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

    • EM1

      The barn doors are fine, it was just the odd middle pillar that may have turned off some buyers. An easy solution would have been to use the camera like rearview mirror used in GM and Nissan products that eliminates all blind sports from the back.

      MINI needs to make buying one a lot easier with its high prices, over engineered yet useless infotainment system. They need to add softer standard seats and blind spot warning system with more standard features. All MINIs should be built in the UK, not China, Brussels, Austria, etc.

  • Aaron Cornaby

    Please. Please. Please. Make a new MINI model that is small like the R53 (or preferably smaller). Every generation MINIs get bigger, fatter and less flattering. There’s something magical about the classic Mini. If they can pull it off without looking like a Smart car it will be amazing. Even the scale of the Fiat 500 is nice (not the styling) and could be used as a reference. Some people just don’t need a fully functional back seat- especially in a MINI.

  • Nick Dawson

    I have been giving more thought to the reports that MINI is to be reinvented as an all-electric city car. Even the rumored names, MINI Metro Runner, MINI Metro Cruiser and MINI Metro Adventurer, sit well with the city car image.

    Metro is a name that translates well across European, American and Asian cultures and markets, and reflects perfectly the urban Hipster and Metrosexual feel that the car is trying to achieve.

    The Metro name first appeared on the Austin Mini-Metro, launched in 1980, and was the planned replacement for the ageing Mini. At a very late stage, it was decided to keep the Mini in production, and produce the Metro as an additional up-to-date city car. The registered Trade Mark name ‘Metro’ is still owned by BMW.