This report will definitely raise a few eyebrows.
Mini has learned something vital over the past several years: its vehicles don't necessarily have to be so "mini" in order to be successful. Case in point: the Mini Countryman, currently in its second generation, and whose midlife facelift for the 2021 model year was just revealed. As the biggest Mini model ever, the Countryman has proved to be a solid sales success in every market where it's sold. In the US, the Mini Cooper Hardtop still outsells the Countryman but not by a large amount. As a whole, the Countryman accounts for over 30 percent of the brand's sales.
Having a small crossover has proven highly lucrative for Mini and this begs the question of whether additional larger Minis are planned. Speaking to Auto Express, the company's design boss, Oliver Heilmer, strongly indicated this is indeed the case.
"This is a question that we always ask ourselves at Mini. We try to find the boundaries we have," Heilmer said. "My opinion is that Mini stands for clever solutions, clever use of space and these two standards don't say anything about a specific size." There are two specific markets where the more spacious Countryman does very well, the US and China, and those customers have made it clear they'd like something even bigger.
"The Countryman works pretty well in terms of size but in other markets [such as] China and the US, the expectation is different, they could imagine having something bigger," Heilmer added. "In short, there is no limitation for us. But it has to stay and feel like a Mini, but not the size necessarily."
Could Heilmer be discreetly telling us a larger Mini SUV is in the works? If so, would it be limited to only those two markets where it'd likely do the best? One thing is for certain: Mini already has a platform for such a vehicle. BMW's UKL2 modular architecture not only underpins the current Countryman but also the BMW X2 and the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. Although it's a front-wheel-drive platform, it's easily adaptable for all-wheel drive. It can also be stretched if necessary.
For now, Mini has not made anything official, but if the plan for a larger SUV does proceed then some longtime brand loyalists who've been dreaming of a smaller, more back-to-basics hatchback won't be very happy.