We've been hearing for nearly two years now that BMW's ostensibly small car brand Mini is planning on paring down its huge range to focus on a few strong-selling models. Now it appears that is finally happening, and the casualties are the Mini Paceman, Roadster and Coupe.
They will be missed. Maybe not by us, but by some folks out there. Probably.
That report comes from Automotive News Europe, which says BMW plans to transform Mini into a smaller, leaner operation that's less complex to produce and operates primarily on just one platform — the UKL architecture that underpins the new F56 Hatch/Hardtop Cooper and front-wheel drive Bimmers like the 2-Series Active Tourer.
As such, Oliver Friedmann, Mini's head of product management, says the two-door crossover Paceman, squat two-seat Coupe and somewhat redundant Roadster are "not a priority" for the brand moving forward and likely won't be replaced. Their deaths haven't been officially confirmed yet, but should be expected.
Those models were hardly critical hits. The Coupe's looks and lack of practicality perplexed many, and the Paceman John Cooper Works received one of the worst reviews we've ever given any car.
It's possible Mini has suffered with this bloated lineup, since their top sellers have long been the standard Cooper Hatch and the Countryman crossover. Since the BMW Group doesn't break out the individual financial results for their brands, analysts wonder if Mini has ever made a profit for them. From the story:
"BMW has struggled to make Mini into a profit center from the beginning," said Max Warburton, an auto analyst at Bernstein Research. He said that Mini's cars are built on a low-volume platform and that the automaker has undergone "all sorts of complex model line proliferation — it's hardly a recipe for making money, at least compared to some of their BMW-branded products."
Right now Mini offers seven models on three platforms (new F56, the outgoing Cooper platform for models like the convertible and Coupe, and the larger one for the Paceman and Countryman made in Austria by Magna Steyr) but that should get a lot simpler for them.
Mini has previously said they want the brand to focus on five "superheroes" (their word, not mine) that we know will include the current Cooper Hatch, the all-new and significantly larger Mini Clubman wagon, and the next-generation Countryman coming in 2016. A new Cooper convertible is on the way, too. Also, maybe one of these:
Separately, Mini chief designer Anders Warming has mentioned the possibility of another vehicle joining the lineup. He has talked about a city car, family car, crossover and convertible.