Once again, our close friend Richard Aucock brings us an analysis of all things BMW or..in this case, MINI. Present at the MINI Countryman media launch in Austria, Richard had the opportunity to explore and analyze MINI’s latest and adventurous bet in the crossover segment.
As with any new BMW model entering a new segment, the purists tend to disagree with the decisions made and most of these models become controversial. MINI is subject of a similar story. The Countryman plans to opens the doors to new customers and expand MINI’s reach further that what we have seen so far. MINI designer and legend Gert Hilderbrand simply refers to the Countryman as a “new family member”.
So, let’s dive into the story.
“Controversial stuff? What about MINI UK? Is this MINI losing its British soul? Not a bit, argues MINI designer Gert Hildebrand. Rather, it is ‘a new family member.’
MINI will always remain a volume British-built car, he explained. ‘Its Britishness is at the very heart of it.’ And this future is going to be centered on Oxford – which now appears to have gained an official ‘profile’ within MINI.
‘The Oxford Family will always keep the core values of the car. The Countryman is a bigger brother, with which we can go further. We can develop things with it than we can’t with the Oxford Family.’ Hence, 5 doors, 4-wheel drive, VW Golf-like dimensions. All the things the Mini never offered.
Back to the UK though, Hildebrand constantly refers to the Porsche 911 when discussing the Oxford Family MINI. Which means the Countryman, and no doubt other variants too, will be MINI’s equivalent of the Porsche Cayenne and Porsche Panamera. (Lest we forget, the Cayenne is actually built by VW, in Slovakia…)
The differentiation extends to a completely different colour palette for the MINI Countryman: ‘Not a single colour is shared with Plant Oxford. This car must be optically different from the hatchback, to recognise its bigger brother status.’ Nothing like using colour for instant differentiation…”