Most recently, the two manufacturers began evaluating a venture into entry-level hatchbacks. For BMW’s near-premium brand Mini, that would mean an all-new Minor (shown here in renderings). “It´s still early days as far as the baby Mini goes,” says a source from Mini. “But when our new R&D board member Klaus Fröhlich traveled to America early in the new year, this was one of the subjects on his agenda.”
As far as size, the Euro-only Toyota Aygo could be a suitable donor car, but Mini won’t have it. Not only because the next-generation Aygo won’t be around before 2020 but also because BMW can’t allow Mini to adopt a badge-engineered product conceived and built by a third party. Instead, Toyota and BMW are looking into an all-new bargain basement effort that can be integrated in the Mini family. To keep costs and weight at bay, engineers will simultaneously have to focus on de-contenting and downsizing. No easy task, mind you, seeing how electromobility is said to play an important role in this build.
The Minor will be one of five new Minis that Peter Schwarzenbauer, board member in charge of Mini, Rolls-Royce, and BMW’s two-wheeled Motorrad division, intends to install as pillars of the brand. While he’s been reluctant to go into detail, we tapped company and supplier sources and established a shortlist describing the key protagonists.
Three: The next Mini Countryman that comes in 2016. It should be more SUV-like in ability and design, and a plug-in hybrid variant is possible.
And five: The Minor, of course, the latest idea to spring out of the well formed by BMW and Toyota’s unlikely relationship that continues to yield astonishing results.
With rebirth comes death
The MiniVan, a big, chunky, 177-inch-long people mover that had been tipped for production, will likely never see its day, and time is up for Mini’s current two-seaters, the Roadster and Coupe, and the complete-flop Paceman, which should be no more than not-so-fond memories by 2019.