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Car and Driver: The Next Mini Might Be a Four-Door Sedan

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2016 Mini Cooper Clubman

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BMW’s modern revival of the Mini brand has always struggled to maintain its character while increasing sales on a global scale. As a result, Minis have gotten bigger and less quirky over the years, and our interest has waned. The brand’s current initiative to round out the lineup with a fifth Mini—joining the existing hardtop (two-door and four-door), convertible, Clubman, and Countryman models—provided some hope that the exciting Superleggera sports car or the diminutive Rocketman hatchback could make it to production. But a new report from Autocar quashes that possibility and suggests that the new Mini will be something a lot more conventional: a four-door sedan.

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The business case for this move, as proposed to Autocar by vice president of Mini product management Ralph Mahler, is sound, as traditional three-box sedans are popular in key markets such as North America, China, and eastern Europe. The new model reportedly would be based on the Clubman and share that car’s sheetmetal from the B-pillar forward. Autocar even speculates that it could be called the “Riley,” a name that references a three-box version of the Mini called the Riley Elf sold in the 1960s.

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But while it’s hard to argue with Mahler’s claim that a Mini sedan might have strong sales potential, we can’t help but think that a sedan would further dilute Mini’s identity. Adding a sedan to the lineup just brings Mini one step closer to every other car company. By contrast, both the Mini Superleggera, a sleek, sexy sports-car concept first shown in 2014, and the Rocketman a tiny, adorable hatchback concept from the 2011 Geneva auto show, are bristling with Mini-specific character.

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A rendering of what a production Mini Superleggera could look like.

A rendering of what a production Mini Superleggera could look like.

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Whatever Mini’s decision is, we’ll likely have to wait a bit to see this fifth model. A redesigned version of the Countryman crossover is next on the docket, scheduled to arrive later this year on the front-drive-based UKL platform shared with the entire Mini lineup and the BMW X1. After that, stay tuned for more news on the possible sedan, or—we hope—a production version of the Superleggera or Rocketman.

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Mini Rocketman concept

Mini Rocketman concept

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