BMW appear to be planning an ultra compact, 2 or 3 seater, MINI Minor which could show at Geneva in Spring 2011.
I guess you need to be old enough to remember the Morris Mini Minor to make any sense of the headline.
When the Mini was launched in 1959 you could have it in two versions – the Morris Mini Minor or the Austin Seven. Which was not at all unusual in the old days of BMC/BL/British Leyland. BMC owned a number of older British marques, and to satisfy the loyalty to a particular brand you would often see what were essentially the same car branded as – in particular – an Austin or Morris, with a different grill, a couple of tweaks and different badges.
The reason for the car history lesson is the report that BMW are planning to launch a compact MINI – if that’s not an oxymoron – which will be badged as MINI Minor. Which probably makes a lot of sense. The MINI has grown – particularly as the MINI Countryman which may even spawn a 7 seater version – and in many ways the whole original Issigonis concept of a compact car has been lost.
But with BMW playing small car games with the Mega City / i-Setta projects, what could make more sense than sharing some of that across the MINI brand? And where better to market a compact city car than its spiritual home – MINI?
So the logic is all there, but is the desire? MINI has churned out a compact concept before (the photo at the top is the MINI Spiritual Concept from the lost ‘Rover’ years) so the will is clear, so perhaps the main stumbling block is profitability. It probably wouldn’t cost much less to make a two or three seater compact city car – based on a cut down MINI or the new Mega City / i-Setta – but the public would expect it to cost a lot less.
However, the idea of a smaller MINI is an appealing one, and it would allow BMW to concentrate on making the Mega City / i-Setta a plug-in electric and use a MINI Minor as an ultra compact City Car with high-efficiency 2 or 3 pot petrols or diesels.
We could see the MINI Minor Concept as early as Geneva 2011