BMW circles the wagons around 5 Minis, CAR+ September 2015

Published: 08 September 2015

► New Clubman part of five-strong family
► Bigger ones, smaller ones – they’re all here
► Plus sporty Superleggera Mini planned 

The latest one: it’s the new Clubman

Unveiling this latest Mini, boss Peter Schwarzenbauer announced: ‘We will concentrate on five core models with strong characters.’ The Clubman is chapter two after the hatches, and it’s a handsome beast, with a hot-rod vibe from its chopped glass and long roof – supposedly the longest in BMW. The unique cargo doors resemble a double fridge’s. ‘It’s expensive to do two doors, but no other [car] brand in the world does it,’ says BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk. ‘And turning the lamps horizontal widens the stance.’

The 134bhp three-cylinder Cooper is the base Clubman costing £19,995; four-pot Cooper D diesel and 189bhp Cooper S petrol flesh out the range. The car has grown a massive 295mm over the Mk1, sprouted an extra side door and packs almost as much boot space as the A3 Sportback. Schwarzenbauer says it’s now a genuine family estate, with premium prices to boot. Deliveries start this autumn.

The first ones: 3- and 5-door hatches

BMW’s third-generation Mini broke new ground with three-cylinder engines and a five-door version, with a 161mm stretch and more boot space. A crucial move to open up the larger five-door supermini market.

The 2016 Mini Countryman shares its platform with BMW's X1

The next ones: Convertible and Countryman

The Convertible, due around the turn of the year, sticks with a simple fabric roof which stows on the rear deck like a canvas whale tail. The 2016 Countryman, which shares its platform with BMW’s X1, has a more SUV-like design influenced by Mini’s Dakar Rally-winner, and greater go-anywhere, all-wheel-drive capability.

The sporty one: Superleggera

Engineers are working hard to preserve the character of the 2014 show car, even down to the tailfin and Union Jack rear-lamp motifs. The 2018 MX-5 rival has two seats, front- and all-wheel drive and runs the pokier four-cylinder Mini engines. A plug-in version, like the concept, is a possibility, thanks to the 2-series Active Tourer’s hybrid. The two-seater will mean the death of the current Roadster, and its Coupe sibling. 

A return to the original Mini. BMW plan for a 'Mini Mini'

The tentative ones: ‘Mini’ Mini or MPV

If the two open Minis are paired, there’s room for Schwarzenbauer’s fifth core model. A Mini Minor city car, at 3450mm some 400mm shorter than the three-door hatch, would be closer to Issigonis’s original concept. Today’s Mini platform can’t be cut to that size, so BMW hopes to enlist Toyota to boost economies on an architecture. If this 2019 project fails to get off the ground, BMW has a handsome, 4500mm, seven-seat MPV up its sleeve as a fallback.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel