Since BMW began producing the new MINI lineup in 2001, it has strayed about as far as possible without tarnishing the Cooper’s iconic name and even offered electric, Clubman and JCW variants of the new MINI Cooper. Now, BMW has announced that it will be expanding the lineup with two all-new vehicles that are set to make a debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month. As the iconic English automaker celebrates its 50TH birthday, BMW AG chairman Dr. Norbert Reithofer announced that MINI would not only be unveiling a pair of concept vehicles in Frankfurt, but both cars are also slated to go into production in the future.
Reithofer said that both new cars will be built at MINI’s assembly plant in Oxford, England, but he did not give any specifics regarding pricing, production dates or model availability. In all likelihood the two new vehicles will consist of the recently introduced MINI Coupe and possibly the MINI Speedster. The addition of these two models will help add a little more excitement to MINI’s lineup while helping to broaden the automaker’s consumer base. MINI has made quite a name for itself since 2001 in delivering vehicles that balance small size and fuel-efficient powertrains with a spirited, fun-to-drive attitude.
Ahead of the Frankfurt debut, MINI released pictures of the upcoming Coupe Concept last week showing the stunning design work of the future model. Looking very much like a chopped Cooper, the MINI Coupe Concept is most likely a close approximation of what the two-seater production model will look like. The Coupe Concept shares MINI’s trademark design up front as well as the Cooper’s extreme wheelbase, but the raked windshield, two-tone roof and forward-swept C-pillar give this car a truly unique design. As for the MINI Speedster, it is likely to be just a drop-top variant of the Coupe which should be positioned directly against other compact roadsters such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Expect both the Coupe and Speedster to be available in base, S and John Cooper Works (JCW) trim levels and share engine and transmissions with the current Cooper lineup.
Another vehicle that could possibly be shown in Frankfurt is the upcoming crossover, likely to be called the MINI Countryman. MINI has already said that it plans to offer the crossover in the near future, but that vehicle would likely be assembled in Leipzig, Germany alongside the upcoming BMW X1. Last year, MINI showed off the Crossover Concept with trick swiveling doors and a pillar-less driver’s side opening, but the production model will follow a conventional four-dour, five-passenger layout. Not one to disappoint its fans, the MINI Crossover should stick to the same basic formula that has made the Cooper such a popular car. Despite the switch from front-wheel drive to rear- or all-wheel drive, the Crossover Concept only rides on a wheelbase that is about two inches longer than the Cooper.
Fans of MINI’s cars may be happy with this recent announcement, but its employees should be even happier. Reithofer said that the economic downturn has led to about 850 job cuts at the MINI Plant Oxford, but the addition of two new models should help add back at least some of the jobs that were lost.
Dr. Juergen Hedrich, Managing Director of MINI Plant Oxford, is encouraged by the latest news. “The fact that Plant Oxford will be building these exciting new models shows the high level of flexibility of the plant and its associates. The MINI family has a bright future,” Hedrich said.