The line-up for the Mk4 Mini due at the end of the decade is likely to have just five models as BMW refocuses the brand
11 February 2014

The fourth-generation Mini family will be limited to just "four or five hero cars", according to Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member for Mini and Rolls-Royce.

Speaking at the recent Detroit motor show, Schwarzenbauer suggested that the Mini line-up could be reduced from the six or seven models planned for the third-generation range in the fourth-gen line-up due at the end of the decade. He also said he would like to see the styling of future Mini models to change to have much greater differentiation.

His surprise intervention came just days before the international launch of the new Mk3 Mini. He said BMW had to be “sensitive about the number of variants and about size. It is better to go in a different direction to concentrate on doing less but better”.

Schwarzenbauer’s outline plan involves further improving the design and build quality of the Mk4 Mini range over that of the Mk3, achieved by concentrating Mini’s research and development spending on a smaller number of models.

Schwarzenbauer would also like to see a small Mini design studio based in London. The current Mini design team is in based in Munich, and it is thought that the only British members who work there are in the clay modelling division. Indeed, the success of Nissan’s London-based design team — responsible for the Qashqai and Juke — has been noted by the rest of industry. Nissan’s Infiniti brand is also about to open a London studio.

Autocar understands that some BMW strategists are concerned that the Mini has strayed too far from its roots and that some models — particularly the new JCW concept — have become parodies of the original Cooper. 

Schwarzenbauer’s ‘hero cars' appear to be a three-door hatch, a convertible sister car and a proper SUV. “Each model must be a hero in its own market and have the trademark personality, style and go-kart handling,” he said.

Schwarzenbauer revealed that he could foresee Mini models up to 4.5 metres long, some 30cm longer than today’s Countryman. A big Mini SUV could arrive in 2017 and mark the first expression of this strategy.

This new strategy could also result in Mini moving upmarket and away from its current pricing strategy. A hatchback to compete in the Volkswagen Golf class, priced from about £17,000, is possible. Higher-priced Minis also make more sense economically because production is in the UK, which has relatively high manufacturing costs. 

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Comments
11

11 February 2014
May I suggest the whole concept of minimalism be explained to BMW?

11 February 2014
Would much prefer a lightweight (as in 200kg + lighter then the new 2014 Mini Cooper) 4-seater Mini-Mini / Minitre variant whose size and engine displacement overlaps the Kei Car and City Car segments, powered by sub-1.0 versions of the 3-cylinder 1.5 turbocharged petrol and diesel units. Especially since BMW are more or less planning to have the next Bini extended to include a Golf-rival.

ATS

11 February 2014
Instead of a smaller range, why not just a smaller car?

11 February 2014
"Autocar understands that some BMW strategists are concerned that the Mini has strayed too far from its roots and that some models — particularly the new JCW concept — have become parodies of the original Cooper. " Ahh, good old British understatement.

11 February 2014
Is this a first - a car that's out-of-date before its official launch?

11 February 2014
The mini is a brand, it is not just a car any more. The sooner you people get used to it the better. BMW is running a business. There are plenty of people who like what they are doing and buy the cars. Enough of this anti German business. Dont like it by something else.

11 February 2014
I like the idea of a simplified Mini range, though would prefer the continuation of the Clubman over any SUV but to start talking about the Mk4 MINI at the time of the MK3 launch seems incredibly naive and unnecessary. If I was on the BMW board I'd haul him in a for a serious talking to (that's the polite forum friendly version).

11 February 2014
Perhaps BMW could give us a much smaller car ,they should phone Gordon Murray I am sure he could tell them what to do.

11 February 2014
I can understand, or accept, a MINI-badged Golf rival more than the Countryman but when it accounts for a third of MINI sales you know it isn't going anywhere. The MINI Golf (that name would actually work!) would make an interesting addition to that market, you could have a real option-fest along with the 1 Series, the A3 and the A-Class.


11 February 2014
No arguing with the claim that Mini has strayed too far from its roots - pretty self-evident I would have said, given the current line-up. However, given they seek to return the brand to said roots I'm surprised there's no mention of the Rocketman concept they had on display at the London Olympics and Paralympics (among others), which was not only smaller than the current Mini but very popular as well. Putting a variant of that into production would certainly do some good in steering the brand back into line.

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