Maximizing Mini’s Lineup: Hybrid and New EV Likely, New Hardtop Set to Debut in November
Tribbles, rabbits, Antonio Cromartie—whatever your preferred analogy for abundant reproduction, go ahead an apply it to expansion of the Mini lineup. What began with only the basic three-door hatchback more than a decade ago has ballooned to seven offerings with the recent introduction of the Paceman. The others are the Clubman, Countryman, convertible, roadster, and coupe, and an eighth Mini will hit streets shortly in the form of the Clubvan cargo hauler. And there are, of course, additional variations available for each model: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works, all-wheel drive, etc.
Expect more to come. Mini’s BMW overlords said a couple of years ago that the brand’s litter could include as many as 10 kittens, and we had the opportunity to speak with Mini’s U.S. product planning manager Patrick McKenna regarding the possibilities.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the next new models will include a new body style, although McKenna didn’t so much as bat an eyelash when we brought up the possibility of a Paceman convertible. Our take: Such a car would be low volume, sure, but also low investment, so don’t rule it out. You can, however, forget about the Rocketman, which previewed an even smaller Mini—that’s dead.
Rather, with an all-new hardtop on the way (it debuts in November before going on sale around March 2014), expect Minis nine and 10 to be a front-wheel-drive hybrid and a second-generation electric Mini, both based on the three-door.
The hybrid won’t feature all-wheel drive, as seen in spy photos we published a couple of years back; regardless of propulsion type, only the Countryman and Paceman will offer four driven wheels for the time being. We also learned that the Mini EV won’t be sharing any platform or powertrain tech with BMW’s electric i3. Efficiency aficionados also will be interested in the likely diesel variant, but we’re told that, like the hybrid and EV, it wouldn’t arrive until at least a couple of years after the conventional third-gen hardtop, which is on tap to receive a turbocharged three-cylinder.
- Long-Term Road Test Wrap-Up: 2011 Mini Cooper S Countryman ALL4
- First Drive: 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman
- First Drive: 2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP
McKenna also confirmed a second-generation Clubman, which he placed among the four “core” models with the hardtop, convertible, and Countryman. And you can expect the onslaught of special-edition Minis to continue—see Goodwood, Hyde Park, Bond Street, Baker Street, to name just four recent ones—although the new hardtop won’t honor any British stuff until year two or three.
Every time Mini introduces a new model—or the threat of one seems imminent—many fans sound the same refrain: that the brand is slicing things too thin. Obviously the company doesn’t think so, and seems content to create a number of spin-offs and variants that do little more than bring people into the showroom to purchase one of the core models. Case in point: McKenna told us that follow-ups to the coupe and roadster, slow-selling, highly impractical variations on an already-impractical theme, are on the table. He cited the roadster in particular as a driver of four-seat convertible sales.
By Erik Johnson