Ready for a BMW X3-sized Mini?
It may be time to start rethinking everything we know about Mini as a brand. Recently, we caught wind of the likelihood that the Mini Countryman will no longer be its biggest model. Now, we have more confirmation that not only one, but two, upcoming Minis will make that iconic badge appear to be more of a paradox than ever before.
Based on a report by Autocar, two new SUVs will join the Mini lineup. One will be a fully electric vehicle developed jointly with China's Great Wall Motors, and the other will be powered by a combustion engine. The EV will be equivalent to the BMW X1, while the latter is going to be closer to the X3 in size.
The five-door crossover EV will make use of a co-developed platform rather than an existing one, with the possibility that it will be badged the Paceman. This crossover will be built at a plant in Zhangjiagang, China, which is less than 100 miles away from Shanghai. There is also the potential that a new BMW i3 could be based on this Mini crossover. Considering that the BMW X1 is over five inches longer than the Mini Cooper Countryman, this provides an idea of how much bigger the new EV will be.
Even larger than this is an SUV expected in 2024 which will use a combustion engine and has been compared to the X3, according to Mini boss Bernd Korber. This new SUV, which could reintroduce the Traveler name, will still be one of the smallest offerings in its segment, even if it is the biggest Mini ever. A strong possibility is the use of BMW's CLAR platform, which would see a longitudinally-mounted engine in a Mini for the first time.
Korber pointed to buyer preferences in markets like China and the US as motivation for a larger Mini SUV. Conversely, Mini's plans for the next generation of the Cooper hatch are quite different, with this car expected to be slightly smaller than the current hatchback. This is good news as if any single car is associated with pint-sized dimensions, it's the Mini hatch.
Will the market take to larger Minis? Or will a bigger Mini SUV be as difficult to stomach as Aston Martin's drastic attempt to go smaller with the ill-fated Cygnet sold in the UK and Europe? Something tells us the next generation of bigger Minis will do well, as long as they can retain the engaging dynamics that are integral to every one of the brand's products.