BMW is "realigning the product and brand strategy" of Mini, according to Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW board member responsible for the Mini brand. The announcement was made at the unveiling of the new Mini Clubman in Berlin.
The first move is the launch of the new Clubman, which Schwarzenbauer says is targeted at "the premium compact class".
The new model – which is a significant 293mm longer and 115mm wider than its unconventional predecessor – has an entry-price of £19,995 and is intended to compete with the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class hatchback, as well as more premium versions of the Volkswagen Golf.
BMW says the new Clubman should open up a whole new market for the brand because the car offers "long-distance suitability, versatility and comfort". Schwarzenbauer also said Mini would "open ourselves up to new ideas and new business areas. We will develop the brand’s visual identity".
The upshot is that BMW is expected to send the Mini brand image upmarket, launching a new visual identity for the brand, its dealers and the brand marketing. The ‘cheeky’ image that has been used since Mini was relaunched in 2001 is expected to be reinvigorated, with insiders suggesting they feel the brand has lost its unique identity as it has been copied so extensively by rivals.