Even Mini thinks today's hatchback is too big.
If you were to visually compare the first, second, and third generation of the Mini three-door hatchback since BMW took ownership of the company you'll immediately notice one thing: size. Each redesigned model was larger than its predecessor and today's third-gen model has been criticized by some for its enlarged proportions, leading to unsightly design elements like the large front overhang. Mini is fully aware of the criticism and, as it turns out, completely agrees with it. Speaking recently to Autocar, Mini chief Bernd Korber stated that he'd "love to see the core Mini shrink again."
At the same time, he also wants to see the brand "grow in some aspects." What does this all mean? Well, Korber has essentially hinted that the upcoming fourth-generation Mini hardtop, due in 2022 or 2023, will be smaller, though not by a huge amount. In other words, don't expect the proportions of the well-regarded first-gen model.
This approach will definitely help with that front overhang issue. Lessons taken from the new Mini Electric are also being applied, specifically in regards to packaging. The next Mini will be sold with both electric and gasoline-engined powertrains. "We are having proportion and design discussions at the moment," said Korber. "The task now is to design it. In three to four years, I'd like to see the start of the next generation. Hopefully, in the next generation, we can make it even more compact, back to where Mini comes from." No complaints there.
Korber also wants to dramatically improve the next Mini's interior, such as more focus on digital technology while still retaining that trademark round center console. While the fourth-gen Mini is being planned, designed, and engineered, the brand still has plans to launch a new crossover, potentially to be called Traveller, which we reported on last month.
Assuming it gets the green light, the Mini Traveller will be a crossover that's larger than today's Countryman. To help save costs, it's being developed alongside the BMW i3's successor. Don't expect this crossover, which will also offer EV and internal combustion powertrains along with a PHEV option, to be larger than a BMW X3. Korber added Mini does need "to address the growth in SUVs and look at if we need a compact SUV." The Mini Countryman is classified as a subcompact SUV.
Eventually, Mini expects to become an electric-only brand, but internal combustion engines are not going anywhere just yet. The next Mini hardtop, and its convertible and five-door siblings, will retain both front-wheel-drive and turbocharged engines.