Mini’s Countryman SUV stirred controversy by becoming the British brand’s largest ever model, but now reports out of the UK suggest a second SUV range is on the way, with more petite dimensions.
Although the first-generation Countryman was panned for being too compact for family use, Mini looks set to take advantage of the growing compact SUV movement with a new sub-Countryman model positioned as an urban lifestyle vehicle.
As a member of the BMW Group, Mini's latest models are all based on the latest-generation front wheel drive architecture, which is scalable to cater for a smaller model.
In an interview with the UK’s Auto Express, BMW Group board member Peter Schwarzenbauer suggested that the brand wouldn’t be looking to larger vehicles or seven-seat versions, but that the possibility existed to add a smaller SUV.
"There are few car types in the world right now that fit into every market,” Schwarzenbauer said. “A small urban SUV is definitely a segment that is extremely interesting.”
Despite no plans to move the brand into a larger size-class, and the sales potential of a more compact model, Schwarzenbauer finished by saying that consensus on an additional future model was yet to be reached.
If it were to get the green light the new Mini SUV would likely surface in 2021 with an expected overall length of just over four metres, making it substantially smaller than the current 4.3 metre Countryman, but slightly larger than the current Mini five-door hatch.
Beneath the skin a new platform is being prepared for BMW and Mini’s future front wheel drive models, with the ability to incorporate electrification more easily as part of the component set.
The same underpinnings will also be used across BMW’s 1 Series and 2 Series models as they move from rear to front wheel drive, along with the BMW i3 EV which is also tipped to move to more cost-effective underpinnings.
At the same time company insiders have suggested that even with a scalable new chassis as its starting point the brand’s future plans do not extend to a smaller model to slot in beneath the current three-door Mini hatch.
Although Mini previewed the idea with the Rocketman city car concept in 2011 and again in 2012 (above), an economically-viable solution for a smaller, cheaper mainstream model has yet to be reached.
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