Report

Mini Considering a Sports Car?

Smaller, bigger, trunkier and sportier models all under consideration for the Mini brand, according to Inside Line.

The Mini brand has come a long way since the introduction of the first retro hatchback in 1994. Now in its second iteration with the third on its way, the iconic hatch has by now been joined in Mini showrooms by six additional models (seven if you count the Clubvan as distinct from the Clubman on which it's based), plus various engine specs, trim levels and special editions. But that may not be the end of it, according to the latest reports. Inside Line suggests that BMW could be planning on expanding the current seven-car Mini line-up to as many as ten.

So what are the other three under consideration? One could be an even smaller Mini hatchback like the Rocketman concept. That project was axed due to high costs, an issue that would need to be addressed if Munich were to give the project the go-ahead. Moving beyond the Rocketman, however, Mini could parlay the success of the Countryman (which, at 30% of all Minis sold, is the second most popular body-style behind the original hatchback) and the new Paceman crossover coupe to make an even larger SUV. Apparently the company feels that its existing customers are being lost to other brands when they outgrow their Minis.

A Mini sedan could also be in the works, sharing components with the upcoming new front-drive BMWs previewed by the new Active Tourer concept. The most intriguing part of the report, however, suggests that Mini could be considering a little sportscar to rival the Mazda MX-5 Miata even more directly than the current Mini Roadster does, and, we'd assume, the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S. To get there, BMW is investing $1.2 billion in Mini's assembly plant at Oxford, planning to rent excess capacity from a joint Mitsubishi-Volvo plant in Holland and could establish a new design studio in the UK. One way or another, it looks like BMW has big plans for the Mini brand.

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