BMW’s marketing machine shows up again and sheds more light on the upcoming MINI Speedster Concept, but also the Broadspeed model we talked about yesterday. Lots of interesting details in there and in a way it build excitement around these two new concepts. But we have to ask: is MINI at a crossroad? Are they betting on the right “horse”? Will the conservative MINI fans adopt the models and direction?
Time will tell, but in the mean time……..
Turned up to Eleven : The Amplification of MINI.
MINI is more than just a brand , MINI envelopes Culture , Music , Film and Fashion as a integral part to it’s urban lifestyle city car status.
Moving in new directions for the brand is inevitable to justify it’s appeal to more consumers , people that want new lifestyle choices in our cars today and more personal cars whether they be pure sports cars or regular runabouts.
When traveling in a car albeit a back seat passenger you get to understand the purpose of the car , sitting back either in day or light there is cars of different size , different shape , cars that are equally sporty to cars that are regular shapes but they all have a purpose whether it is a hatchback , a coupe , a roadster , a supercar or a sedan.
When introduced in 2001 MINI was at the beginning identified as just a car , until the culture kicked off and surpassed the original claim that the MINI will be a passing fashion just as the VW beetle was before it.
Now we have come further and still no chance of the MINI fad being far from over.
At first MINI was labeled a small premium hatchback but has since matured into a lifestyle of it’s own it represents culture and a lifestyle that no matter how much other manufacturers say they will develop a MINI killer that they just do not understand the appeal of MINI.
For MINI customers some enjoy the image , more enjoy the feel of driving a MINI , and some reckon the MINI is just automotive Nirvana.
MINI has come a lot further since it’s introduction in 2001 and when you see a MINI today in a passing car you can see the MINI in 3 different formats – The MINI hatch , Cabrio and the Clubman.
This triplicate of MINI’s each having a different purpose like any other car.
How do you progress a brand like MINI ? , How can you keep MINI Exciting? Successfully labelled as the “Other” MINI The MINI Clubman offered an individual first progression of a new concept for MINI , a successful integration of the MINI Clubman as a unique Individual choice which not only appealed to current MINI owners but brought some new clientle to the MINI brand.
MINI Clubman was born from the idea of usibility in a MINI but make it more unique and appealing to a MINI customer with that fun factor to progress the fact that underneath the uniqueness and individuality there is a MINI underneath and that means no lack of typical MINI driving characteristics.
Leaving the MINI SAV aside at the moment , The MINI crossover is possibly the right product at the right time especially against high fuel consumption SUV’s. The MINI CrossOver is like the MINI and the MINI Clubman still a MINI so the SAV will remain nimble , and responsive as a MINI should be but with a commanding driving position.
What more can be done to Progress the typical MINI character ?
Make it lower , Make it dynamically more raked , tweak the design to suit it’s most sporting incarnation yet but overall make it so appealing that MINI enthusiasts will want one while aspiring MINI customers will adhere to have one.
The idea of a MINI Speedster was initially discussed in the early stages of the first under BMW developed MINI . Back then we had the idea to experiment and see what is interesting as design concepts to show off that MINI will not be a passing fashion and that we wanted to bring a fun factor to small cars which was lacking in that period.
The press after they saw our ideas were very enthusiastic regarding a MINI Speedster , unfortunately the birth of MINI to the market place took considerable time to establish it self which is a rule at BMW that the first product must establish itself before we begin production development of additional variants. By the time the establishment period had identified the car was a huge success , already attention was switching to the next generation MINI leaving marketing to concentrate on only the MINI Cabrio and the MINI GP.
Now that the current MINI family is about to complete with an additional MINI SAV model. MINI turned to the creative side to discuss how to keep the brand ticking over until the next generation MINI arrives in a few years. The rule of marketing is that we look at each car intensively and see if current platforms can be used for ideas that are coming through the design studios. At MINI design there has always been the creativity to work on ideas that would suit the MINI brand , The Clubman was like the Speedster intended for the first MINI , a Speedster for the second MINI was not originally intended as BMW reckoned the Cabrio would be self sufficient.
The MINI Cabrio does have appeal and the greater percentage of MINI cabrio owners worldwide are Female , so how do you appeal to the Male demographic? The good thing is that the MINI is seen as a car that is universal with models that appeal to both male and Female customers.
But more and often there comes a car that can lure your customers away from your brand and it is how to retain the customer who wants something more personal and interesting from a typical sports car concept.
The MINI Speedster is purely intent to offer customers the opportunity to see how far MINI can go in it’s Individuality , not everyone wants a Clubman as is not everyone wants to see the brand offer an SAV.
MINI Speedster is a car that will offer the characteristics that are evident with the MINI brand whilst keeping the Image and the Lifestyle intact.
Identified as “MINI Amplified to 11” shows that the engineering department are working well within the chosen brief to make it so exciting that MINI customers have never experienced anything like this before in a typical MINI. MINI Speedster is conceived from the current MINI Cabrio (R57) platform with a wider track for a compact , squat look with equally massaged wheel arches with the typical MINI cladding highly evident.
The headlights follow a more raked into the corners look surrounding a wide MINI grille , The S model will feature the hood mounted air intake bit will be positioned as if it is a bulge on the bonnet with two lines disappearing before the windscreen meets the bonnet. The screen is more raked back than a typical MINI with the cockpit being retained from the current MINI but will feature new color and trim pieces for a unique Individual appearance. The MINI speedster is strictly for two with the loss of the rear passenger compartment being covered by twin buttress canopy that secures the easily fixed hood. Roll bars are positioned at the front of these buttresses, the rear deck is short and stubby with the MINI tail lamps , the exhaust like the MINI Cooper S is centrally mounted but the rear intake is larger as is the front intake.
In making the MINI Speedster such a unique choice that will offer a lot of appeal. The color and trim department have been devising unique color choices that signify the vibrant amplification , such as a new unique shade of Orange that in high sunlight turns bright gold , a Unique shade of Gold that again in sunlight reveals a rust type of effect, A new Blue which is very gray in tone like the effect you see on the top of a Great white shark. As is a new metallic green like the original Light Green but more vibrant.
MINI Speedster is seen as having something Post recession that will offer something that today only exists in enthusiast manufacturers and not in mainstream segments.
Originally born as a Speedster but with designers adding a roof to the model to develop a unique twin brother a sporting coupe that will offer more structural areas which will provide an even more sporting model with the Coupe. Known internally as the “BroadSpeed” and incarnation taken from the MINI history books , although not properly and officially licensed by BMW. The challenges of going from the Speedster to the Coupe have met with many design challenges , 1 example is the shape of the rear window , with many models depicting a typical MINI like rear squared off that wraps around the c pillar ? , A Ford Fiesta type rising Window line ? One idea definitely nixed is a BMW typical window line , The finished model takes the idea off the Broadspeed but shrinks it allowing a sloping roof and a rounder quarter light with a shallow glasshouse.
Like the Speedster the Coupe will remain a two seater.
The idea of a Coupe was introduced after investigation that there was a period that there were small cars like this especially from Japanese manufacturers such as the Honda Civic CRX either in both it’s original Coupe incarnation or the later sliding hardtop model , or the Toyota MR2 , One model which was around at the time of the 2001 MINI was Fords Puma a small front wheel drive coupe which based on an existing Ford The Fiesta offered an excellent handling small coupe. It is true that no one really offers anything like this today but they are coming both Honda and Toyota have something under development.
Again it falls under of focusing on the compact and city segments to further your growth , a direction that both BMW and MINI have invested highly in for the future. It is this area where customers will be advancing to new vehicle concepts that are either making a return to the market or indeed as BMW know well enough creating new niche’s.
With the promise of excellent driving dynamics , a unique image and adequate performance for such a car , engines are at first limited to the Twin scroll Turbo as found in the MINI Cooper S and a JCW model initially , Other engines will be added but not at first , Although engineering and design are done inhouse at BMW , chassis will be made at Oxford whereas Body shells and final marriage will take place within a 3rd manufacturing site (not Magna Steyer)
Will the cars be universally received by the MINI Community , I would like to say yes because I am sure there are customers who will be enticed by such a concept for MINI , not only current customers but customers who could be new to the MINI brand is always at the front of our minds.
It’s a car that could do well with further integration of the image of MINI to customers who might want something exciting enough that they never previously considered the MINI brand. Especially older customers who might be partial to the Speedster as an interpretation of those classic British Sports cars driving along say- Highway one in California , either during the day or at sunset with the roof open and the occupants exposed to the elements. A car that can conjure up some past emotions for some another for just listening to your favourite music as you negotiate all those curves whilst retaining that permanent grin.
It’s believing in your product that makes you get excited at the prospect of a new concept it’s a MINI although turned up to 11, which is not an issue.
I dont think there is anything that can suit the brand better as the top MINI model of the brand portfolio that signifies what the brand has been about all along .