Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Trending News

Maxing out Mini! Will the Mini line-up expand to include large SUVs, and will the tiny Rocketman concept finally go into production?

The Cooper range will always be the core part of the Mini line-up, according to head of Mini brand, Stefanie Wurst.

Exactly how big can the Mini brand get? Should Mini stay mini, or could we see large SUVs wearing the Mini badge in the near future?

The BMW-owned brand is at a crossroads. It’s about to launch a completely new line-up - or ‘family’ - of models, with the vast majority being fully electric.

But is there scope for the family to expand beyond these core models? The refreshed line-up that will start to roll out from later in 2023 will include a new-gen Cooper Hatch and Convertible (eventually), the Aceman crossover, new Countryman SUV, and - possibly - a new Clubman.

Head of the Mini brand, Stefanie Wurst, said it makes sense for Mini to offer a smaller model range than other brands, but wouldn’t divulge exactly how many models will make up the future line-up.

“I think a Mini range has to be compact,” she told Australian and New Zealand journalists at the recent Mini Aceman concept premiere in Germany.

“I am not saying it has to be five models or six or seven or three or four - but I think it has to make sense and it has to have differentiation. And now it’s a smaller crossover like this one (Aceman) and bigger one, Countryman, and different variations of iconic Mini (Cooper Hatch) and that's fine for the moment.

“But I think we always have to evolve also as a brand and it has to be true to the name ‘Mini’. You cannot be Mini and have 35 different models - it has to make sense in an urban context and be a compact range that makes sense and to the true heritage of the brand.”

The Mini Aceman will eventually morph into a production model.

So it's unlikely that we will see anything like a Mini-badged medium or large SUV anytime soon.

In the earlier part of the last decade, Mini expanded its range to include the then-new Countryman SUV and Clubman wagon/hatch, the Paceman, which was a two-door coupe version of the Countryman, and the quirky Mini Coupe and Roadster twins.

There was criticism of the brand at the time for expanding too quickly and creating too many niches. The Coupe and Roadster were dropped globally from 2015, while the Paceman - which in hindsight, may have been ahead of its time by predating the whole coupe-SUV craze - was discontinued in late 2016.

Despite the desire to keep the Mini line-up compact, Ms Wurst said that doesn’t mean there’s no room for expansion. And that means the line-up could look different depending on what region you’re in.

“I think it’s an amazing brand and sometimes I think you could do even more and stretch it even more because it’s so embraced and loved by everyone, so let's see what the future will bring.

The Vision Urbanaut concept was a different direction for Mini.

“I think the brand could be doing a lot of things actually, when it comes to urban mobility. Because I think this is the core. What do you want or need to do in a city? And that might also be different from Europe to Australia to Asia and the United States, but the core is urban and the core is individual mobility and stretch it to whatever the regional needs are as well.”

When asked about a production version of the tiny Rocketman concept from 2011, Ms Wurst dismissed the potential for a model that would slot into the line-up under the next-gen Hatch.

She did, however, highlight the potential for another Mini concept.

“Even though Urbanaut is big, it is a compact van concept and I think this is uniquely Mini.”

It's unlikely that the 2011 Rocketman concept will spawn a smaller Mini model.

The Urbanaut concept from 2020 is a pod-like van with few distinctive ‘Mini’ design cues. It’s a fully electric vehicle and has a flexible cabin that allows occupants to use it as a lounge, a vehicle or possibly even somewhere to sleep.

It has not been confirmed for production.

Whatever happens with Mini’s future line-up, Ms Wurst said the classic Mini Hatch would always live on.

“I think the iconic Mini Cooper will always be there and it is a family of cars - convertible three door and five door. There’s no reason and no plans to deviate from that, even though the crossover market is growing, but there will always be space for the original concept and an evolved concept which you see here (Aceman) and in the Countryman as well.”

Tim Nicholson
Managing Editor
Calling out the make and model of every single car he saw as a toddler might have challenged his parents’ patience, but it was clearly a starting point for Tim Nicholson’s journey into automotive journalism. Tim launched the program, Fender Bender, on community radio station JOY 94.9 during completion of his Master of Arts (Media and Communications). This led to an entry role at industry publication GoAuto, before eventually taking the role of Managing Editor. A stint as RACV’s Motoring Editor – including being an Australia’s Best Cars judge – provided a different perspective to automotive media, before leading him to CarsGuide where he started as a Contributing Journalist in September 2021, and transitioned to Senior Editor in April 2022, before becoming Managing Editor in December 2022.
About Author
Trending News