Mini will continue to sell more three-door superminis than the new five-door, the company has admitted. And the appeal of extra doors is driven by the 'what if' factor; most owners of five-door hatchbacks don't actually have kids, research suggests.
The forecast, made at the press launch of the new Mini five-door, bucks the trend for the supermini sector, where the more practical five-door bodystyle predominates.
BMW claims two-thirds of this supermini sector is made up of five-doors, yet it expects to reverse that split in favour of the three-door Mini. Which goes to show that the Mini brand has a centre of gravity around the original three-door, continuing a link back to the original Austin Rover-era Mini.
The 'new' Mini - codenamed F55 - has been predominantly available as a three-door to date, ever since the first-gen R53 reinterpreted the Mini outline for the modern era back in 2001. Only the Countryman baby SUV has been available with two rear doors to date.
Mini five-door hatchback: the background
The new Mini five-door adds a couple of extra doors into the stretched bodyshell.
This Mini has been put on the rack: it's 162mm longer overall, and a useful 72mm of that sits in the stretched wheelbase, to the benefit of rear legroom. It's also the first Mini hatchback to be homologated for five seats, as opposed to four.
Bootspace, too, grows by 67 litres to 278. Not massive, then, but better than a regular Mini's titchy trunk. Weight grows correspondingly, by around 60kg.
The purpose of this growth spurt? Mini is desperate to stretch the reach of the Mini range and accommodate buyers who've outgrown their three-door but aren't ready for a baby SUV, such as the Countryman. Audi has the A1 in three- and five-door Sportback styles, and this is Mini's riposte.
Mini 5dr prices
Full production starts in late October 2014, and UK five-door Minis will cost from £14,350 for a One. The price of those two extra rear doors? A cool £600.
Despite all this extra flexibility, Mini product manager Roderick von Ostrowski told CAR that most owners of five-door hatches don't even have kids. 'Three-quarters of five-door hatchback owners don't have children,' he said. 'It's the idea of having extra flexibility that appeals to them. We now have something to offer.'
>> Come back to CAR's website this weekend for a full review of the new Mini five-door hatch