The 2002 was one of BMW’s most iconic vehicles. The boxy little sedan was quick, well-balanced, and agile. It was well-proportioned. It was comfortable. It offered tremendous visibility. It could whup a GTO. It was a precisely engineered German middle finger to bloated, lazy American car manufacturers. It defined what BMW would become in the coming decades.
Loved by enthusiasts and general car folk, the car still has cultural resonance. John Krasinski drove a clean blue 2002tii in Amazon’s Jack Ryan, when he wasn’t sculling, cycling to work, or deploying his prodigious intellect as a deus ex machina. He motored his highly distinctive vintage car right up to a safe house while being tracked by terrorists because he was just that much of a discerning badass.
We’ve seen revivals of lesser cars like the Beetle, the Mini and the Fiat 500. It’s time for BMW to remake the 2002, aka the “Whispering Bomb,” and do so as an EV.
In this time of manufacturer upheavals, BMW will have to do something about Mini (which it owns). American sales have been down double digits in October and November, particularly among the non-Countryman versions. BMW is considering selling Minis out of BMW dealerships to save costs.
Mini Cooper’s nostalgia train has run its course. The car is nearing its 20th year in production. A new generation emerging would be the car’s fourth. What resonance the Mini Cooper still has is less about the brand and more about what’s going on underneath the Cool Britannia styling: a quick, agile and well-handling BMW. Why not dispense with the shtick and make (or faithfully remake) a small, awesome BMW instead?
The 2002 concept should work for the EV era. Nostalgia would generate initial buzz. A chuckable, scaled down BMW sedan with a ton of torque from an electric motor is something just about anyone would want to drive. Now, imagine if it were available at an affordable price point. Lift it a little and put on some more aggressive tires for a rallying version. I’m just throwing out some ideas here – great ideas.
Sure, trends would have BMW stick to sport activity vehicles, SUVs, light trucks or whatever one wants to term them. That’s what is selling. But, that trend seems ripe to be disrupted. If Lamborghini embarking on an “SUV” racing series is not a sign we’ve reached “peak” crossover, what is?
It seems clear where the luxury end of the EV spectrum is heading. Our social superiors will be lording around stoplights in absurdly spec’d performance beasts. But, the affordable EV market, indeed whether there will be an affordable EV market vs. ride-sharing, will be defined by whatever manufacturer can produce a capable and fun car at an affordable price point. BMW stumbled onto magic once before, why not try to recreate it?