Minis: they’re becoming multi-purpose, more practical and more completely equipped, and some are far from small. If all this has you wondering where Mini is going, you’re not alone.
Not that there’s any doubting the success and appeal of this reinvented marque. More than four million Minis have been built over the past 16 years, close to four-fifths of the 5.4m originals sold over 41 years. There have been 10 bodystyles, the brand is sold in 110 countries and the hatchback is a frequenter of Britain’s top 10 best sellers list. Last year Mini scored 360,000 sales, a post-2001 record and a result that entirely justifies BMW’s decision to keep the Mini brand after disposing of Rover and Land Rover in 2000. But this broader success has not been without narrower failures, triggering strategy shifts that have resulted in a reduced range, for example, and the abandonment of a plan to ensure that each model was the smallest in its segment.
To understand where Mini is now, we need to understand where it has been, and few are better qualified to guide us than Mini UK director Chris Brownridge.
“In those days  there was no premium small car, and the Mini was arguably the first premium car with high differentiation,” he says. “Not only did we have product substance, but we also had quite an invigorating marketing approach. We were probably one of the first brands with dry wit in our advertising. The product was different, the brand positioning was very different and the car was a huge success.”
Diversification came next, from Convertible through Clubman, Countryman, Roadster, Coupé and Paceman. “Mini was building a tremendous following not just domestically but also globally,” continues Brownridge. “It was becoming a serious car brand.”