Ever since MINI shut the door on its Cooper Coupe and its convertible sibling, there have been rumors about what would replace the models.
First let’s go over what’s on MINI showroom floors right now. Obviously, there’s the Cooper Hardtop, which can be had in three and five-door bodystyles. Then there’s the Clubman, which comes in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive versions. Finally, there’s the Countryman.
We already know what the fourth model line will be: a larger version of the Countryman compact crossover, which will debut later this year. That leaves the fifth and final (for now) vehicle. Autocar is reporting that we may be looking at MINI’s first-ever sedan, in an effort by the brand to move into larger, more mature model segments.
The sedan will reportedly be targeted at North American and Chinese buyers, but the car will be sold globally. “In Asia and the U.S., the sedan segment is very big. This is very interesting to us, of course,” said Ralph Mahler when speaking to Autocar.
It may be news to many MINI shoppers, but the automaker has a history of making sedans with Riley Elf and Wolseley Hornet. “Customers may know of the strong heritage of the sedan concept, but it was never [sold in] big volumes,” Mahler noted. “Most customers would hardly know that, so would they link to heritage?”
Beyond an appeal to heritage, the push for five distinct models may help the brand sell cars. Until recently, MINI struggled with a convoluted model range of multiple derivatives, and so well-defined vehicles with their own target buyers should broaden appeal. And the strategy is already working, too, as MINI sold a record 338,466 units worldwide last year.
As for its name, “Riley” might be a proper call to the brand’s heritage, as Mahler alluded. If a sedan is indeed on the way, the Clubman, MINI’s longest and widest model, will most likely serve as its platform.