A MINI SEDAN

se·dan

noun

an enclosed automobile body having two or four doors and seating four or more persons on two full-width seats. Now this just doesn’t make sense any more but interesting definition and MINI of Tampa Bay likes redefining the ordinary.

In our recent comprehensive piece about the upcoming F56, we spent quite a bit of time talking about the 5-door variant, the F55. Basically to the hardtop MINI hatch what the four door Golf is to VW. The F55 will take the standard MINI platform and inject it with a healthy dose of practicality without growing its sporting footprint. Is the “sedan” Inside Line is talking about actually the F55, or are we talking about something more fast-backed like a traditional sedan? What comes to mind is the image of a four door MINI with a back end more akin to the Coupe or Roadster — with a traditional boot lid. But like the idea of a stretched Countryman, that’s purely conjecture on my part. Most likely of all is what we reported on back in January:

Code-named “Spacebox” and known as the Traveller (or even the MINI Activity Tourer) the car will be based on the front wheel drive BMW Compactive Sport Tourer or ‘FAST’. The idea (for both but especially the Traveller) is all about increasing practicality and flexibility for a customer who would have had to to move to another brand because they’ve simply run out of space. Both but especially the Traveller will be the most utility oriented of all of BMW or MINI’s upcoming products based off of the UKL1 platform.

What’s unclear is just where each of these rumors and internal MINI concepts overlap. Is this three cars or just one? Either way, we know MINI is working on four and/or five door variants of the traditional MINI Hatch — the flagship platform for MINI.

Expansion means profitability

We’re as tired of repeating it as many of you are of reading it, but the reality is that in order for MINI to be sustainably profitable, the brand and the lineup has to grow. The hardtop hatch will always be the center of that, as will the MINI’s British heritage. In fact, Inside Line is reporting that BMW is yet again considering the presence of a MINI design center in the UK — a facility to anchor the brand’s character right in the heart of its cultural heritage. A London BMW design center was shelved earlier this year, but perhaps that was just a postponement. Regardless, the changes we’re seeing in both platform (the F56) and continued model variations are essential to MINI’s long term growth and financial health.

While not every MINI fan is going to love every new model (where my R60 haters at?), we still think the correct perspective on a ten car MINI lineup is one that ultimately favors driving enthusiasts. For a company as small as MINI, the catch 22 of profitability comes hand-in-hand with market compromise. But in the end, the enthusiasts actually have the most to gain. The criticisms of bloat and un-sporting character that one might level against the Countryman certainly don’t apply to MINI’s most rarified models like the Coupe or the JCW GP. Truth is, though, we wouldn’t have one without the other. MINI wouldn’t be able to offer low volume, performance oriented cars like the Coupe without the highly profitable, albeit less aspirational Countryman. It works the other way ’round as well. Without the sporting character and performance cheek of the Hatch, the Coupe and the Roadster (not to forget the JCW GP), there’d be little MINI family appeal for a car like the Paceman — a car that aspires to even more performance than it will likely deliver.

In that sense, MINI is expanding into a more complicated organism. Those interdependencies and new models are ultimately going to strengthen the MINI bottom line, and I believe, strengthen the MINI brand.

via MotoringFile » Archive » More Talk of MINI Model Expansion.

via MotoringFile » Archive » More Talk of MINI Model Expansion.

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