The third-generation Mini Cooper and Cooper S have only just arrived, but rumors are already circulating about the fourth-generation lineup expected to roll out before 2020. According to Autocar, Mini plans to scale back the rapid brand expansion we’ve seen in recent years, and focus its efforts on four or five “hero cars.” Among these future vehicles would be a Mini SUV nearly a foot longer than the current Countryman.
Mini’s current lineup has grown considerably since BMW reintroduced the Cooper in 2001, but there is a lot of styling overlap between models like the Cooper, Clubman, and convertible models (the Countryman and Paceman are also closely linked). BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer told Autocar that the company is looking to remedy the situation with a better-differentiated lineup in the fourth-generation. “It is better to go in a different direction to concentrate on doing less but better,”Schwarzenbauer said. “…Each model must be a hero in its own market and have the trademark personality, style, and go-kart handling.”
This strategy is consistent with earlier predictions from our European bureau chief Georg Kacher, who projected that Mini would add a sporty MiniVan and a small four-door sedan by the end of 2016. We already spied upcoming four-door Cooper hatchback and four-door Clubman models out testing, although these could potentially be scratched after the third generation runs its course. Of the four or five “hero cars” Mini has planned, we expect to see a three-door hatchback, a roadster, a four-door sedan, the MiniVan, and the aforementioned larger SUV. The MiniVan will arrive with distinctive proportions and design for a five-seater van, utilizing a long wheelbase and low roofline as well as a newly versatile seating arrangement. One of the original proposals for the MiniVan was a kind of extra-large Countryman, which could be the jumping-off point for the rumored SUV which may arrive as early as 2017.
A new front-wheel drive platform shared with BMW serves as the basis for the latest 2014 MINI Cooper and Cooper S, which use turbocharged three-cylinder and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, respectively. The new platform and engines will find their way into upcoming third-generation models like the convertible, unnamed four-door hatchback, and four-door Clubman models, as well as into various entry-level BMW models, like the 1-Series and Active Tourer.
Despite the overall departure from traditional Mini proportions and styling since BMW first began building the Cooper, the Brits may have more of a say in this matter moving forward – Schwarzenbauer is looking to build a small London-based design studio apart from the existing studio based in Munich, where it is rumored that the only British employees work on the clay modeling team.
The 2014 MINI Cooper and Cooper S are set to go on sale in March, with the convertible and four-door hatchback to follow sometime this summer, and the Clubman slotted for 2015. As of now it looks like the Mini lineup as well as its models are constantly growing, but we’ll have to stay tuned to see if this trend is reversed by the time the fourth generation Mini arrives before 2020.