Americans have sworn off small cars in recent years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mini sales have dropped precipitously since 2013; the brand looked to be in trouble even before the current economic crisis hit. According to Autocar, however, BMW has a bold new strategy to revive the Mini marque. No, it’s not pumping affordable fun-to-drive BMW vehicles into Mini showrooms with new badges, as we’d like; Mini, reportedly, is instead going to flesh out its lineup with more small crossovers.
Not long ago, rumors abounded Mini planned to build a vehicle its spectacular Rocketman concept, an innovative two-door hatch about the size of the original Mini. Autocar says Mini may make a car called the Rocketman — but instead of that nifty concept, it will be a Chinese-built four-door electric crossover.
Mini will offer another four-door crossover in the U.S. for 2024, reportedly to be called the Traveller. According to the report, it will be the biggest Mini yet, will use internal combustion power, and will slot above the Countryman in both size and price. So: expect a compact utility vehicle that starts north of $30,000, and occupies a sport somewhere between the RAV4/CR-V and the BMW X3.
Will those be the answer to Mini’s prayers? Having a Mini big enough to be relatively practical (with some adventure branding, perhaps?) should appeal to people on paper. The Traveller, as described, is the sort of vehicle Americans have been buying in droves. That said, converting Mini aesthetics to larger vehicles has been a challenge in past efforts. And, while the vehicles makes sense now, the car market could look very different come 2024.
Fortunately for driving enthusiasts, Mini’s plan is not all crossovers. Autocar also highlights some changes coming for the next generation of the Mini hatchback. It allegedly stands to benefit from a smaller exterior footprint and a hybrid option, and will tone down some of the campy, excessively-rounded interior style choices. The John Cooper Works models are sticking around. And in one other piece of good news, Mini also brought back manual transmissions for the 2021 model year.
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