2019 MINI Preview: The Electric MINI, 300 hp JCWs and Model Refreshes

Mini electric 3 door hatch

2019 will be a year dominated by the highly anticipated all electric MINI. But that’s not all the brand has planned for the 2019 calendar year. There are some subtle and not so subtle changes coming to the entire line-up you’ll want to know about.

The 2020 MINI Electric. Think i3 drivetrain shoehorned into the current F56 chassis.
electric mini

The 2020 MINI Electric. Think i3 drivetrain shoehorned into the current F56 chassis.

Electric MINI

Using the i3’s drivetrain, BMW has fast-tracked development of the electric MINI to save on costs and get it to the market quickly. The downside of this strategy is that BMW is essentially fitting a square peg in a round hole by making a ICE chassis accommodate an electric drivetrain and batteries.

MINI Brand boss Peter Schwarzenbauer has spoken openly about the engineering challenges of electrifying the current MINI. Specifically BMW has found it difficult to fit the requisite number of battery cells into the current chassis for an acceptable range. What that range will be is unknown but the current i3 range is only 117 miles on a full change. However the rumored 120 a-h version is expected to see over 200 miles. Could MINI slot that many batteries in the F56 chassis? And even if it does could the heavier steel chassis of the MINI get near what the carbon fiber i3 gets in terms of range? We’ll know shortly.

The look will be toned down dramatically from the concept car (seen above). Instead, the final production car’s design will mix the updated look of the 2018 Mini models with aerodynamic features of the concept.

The Electric MINI will be launched in the second half of the year with sales beginning late in the year.

MINI Hardtop, Four Door & Convertible

2019 hardtop, four door and convertible models all have been revised earlier in 2018 as 2019 models. Those refinements were considered the lightest model refresh in MINI’s history – especially in the US. Part of that blame lies with the WLTP regulations that Europe has imposed as an answer to diesel-gate. It’s required automakers to reengineer powertrains to adhere to higher emission standards. That took a lot of engineers, time and ultimately investment – all things BMW had earmarked for revising the engine range to produce more power. With that gone, MINI only had the DCT as its new drivetrain element. However the cost of homologating that for worldwide markets was also impacted by WLPT costs. The DCT will eventually come the US market sometime likely next year. Our guess would be either for March of July production.

Those changes should hold over the hardtop until it’s redesigned in 2021. The four door should follow six months later. The convertible is currently rumored to be axed entirely but its surprising sales success might have BMW rethinking that strategy.

electric mini

Clubman & Countryman

The Clubman will see its own light LCI later this fall. New headlights and rear Union Jack inspired taillights will be the major additions along with other minor trim updates. MINI’s biggest seller, the Countryman will see a similar LCI in 2020.

The big news is the 300 hp JCW variant (B48A20T1) which we’ve seen testing for several years now. We expect this model to arrive next year as an automatic only. How MINI will position it is yet to be determined. Will it replace the JCW Clubman and JCW Countryman or be marketed as a even faster model? BMW M does with its “Competition” models so there is precedent.

The current Countryman is scheduled to be replaced by an entirely new Countryman in 2024. For the Clubman things are bit more hazy. Sales were strong initially but since then the market has shifted strongly (and sadly) to crossovers. We believe MINI will rethink the Clubman concept ahead of a full redesign in 2023

JCW GP

JCW GP

The heavily rumored JCW GP is on track to be introduced shortly after the all electric MINI. Based on sources we believe we’ll see the GP in the spring of 2020. While it’s likely to be toned down from the concept, we’d expect MINI to up the ante a bit with power. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see that 300 hp All4 drivetrain in a GP? It could mean it would be auto only but it would certainly change the narrative that MINIs are underpowered.