As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

A MINI Problem

I have mentioned previously that I am not a native to Australian shores. Alas, my origins are much more British in their nature. But I see this as nothing but a good thing. This gives me the opportunity to bring together two wonderful worlds in a colourful explosion of thought and opinion. Now, I spend many an hour scrolling through the underbelly of the Internet looking for the latest news from the automotive universe; every now and again something catches my eye that is just perfect. News has reached my ears regarding the spread of MINI in Australia. It would appear that MINi are struggling to sell the MINI Paceman.

The Mini Paceman

The Mini Paceman

Within the first 7 months that the model was on show to the public, only 93 were sold. In fact, overall MINI seems to not be doing too well in its introduction to Australia. This did get me thinking; what is going on here? Is there any explanation? 

Traditionally, the Mini is a very British invention. In fact, not only does it characterise what it meant to be involved in British culture, but  the Mini Cooper was a fully fledged film star. ‘The Italian Job’ is one of THE most successful British films of all time, gaining worldwide success. Here is a fun fact:

Due to the Italian filming location for the film and various funding sources, the cars for the film were originally going to be Fiats. Fiat was the most popular everyday car in Italy throughout the mid-20th century after all. But the film makers put their foot down and it was confirmed that the Mini would be the car used in the film.

Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘The Italian Job’ (1969)

The Stars of the Show - 'The Italian Job' (1969)

The Stars of the Show – ‘The Italian Job’ (1969)

However, in more recent years, MINI was taken over and transformed, when the name was bought by BMW. And so began the modernisation of the Mini. At first, the relaunch of the MINI Cooper brought back the entire Cooper-craze across the world. The Mini even found fame in the USA with the absolutely terrible re-make of the Italian Job, made bearable only by Charlize Theron if I am truly honest.

One of my personal confusions with this new Mini was the fact that it was well, massive. I can assume it was some sort of symbolic oxymoronic construction having a rather large car being called Mini, but still. The old Mini was small, zippy, plucky and full of character. This new one however, although definitely an individual sexy little so and so, had lost some of that original character, mainly down to the fact that it was no longer that small.

Everything was going so well… It may not have been the old Mini but it was definitely a positive step… It was all going well…

Too well…

The new MINI - It went through various forms after the initial relaunch

The new MINI – It went through various forms after the initial relaunch

As with so many of the great things that exist upon this fair planet, everything took a sudden downhill tumble. It would appear the BMW owners decided they wanted to squeeze as much life as possible out of the MINI name. I am sure there are a few good ways to use the MINI name to bring out some new cars. I always thought a MINI GT or Supercar would have been wonderful. They may have looked a little on the strange side, but I liked the idea behind the Coupe, Convertible and Roadster. It was making the MINI into a fully fledged road going brand. The only thing I would have definitely said should be avoided was the spacious 4×4 route. I mean who would be stupid enough to start introducing a 4×4 edition of the MINI onto the market. Only a complete idiot would do something like tha-

*phone rings* “…hello? You’re joking right? They didn’t did they? a 4×4 MI- well thank you for telling me”

Well this is a little awkward. It turns out that is what MINI actually decided to do. At first they thought the best thing to do would be to elongate the Cooper into the Clubman. Horrifically enough, this then ‘inspired’ them to construct the ClubVAN. I mean seriously guys, what is going on? The best way to describe them is taking a the front end of a MINI and adding the back end of a Ford Transit onto its behind. Words fail me. Literally fail me.

And then came the turn of the Countryman and the Paceman. The SUV/4×4 style MINI that was meant to give the customer the perfect MINI for when ‘they ran out of road”. The problem with introducing a 4×4 MINI is that MINI is owned by BMW. And BMW are not exactly known for manufacturing the best off road machines known to man. I mean the BMW X5 failed both on road and off road.

The MINI range. Notice the size… Bigger and Bigger… Uglier and Uglier...

The MINI range. Notice the size… Bigger and Bigger… Uglier and Uglier…

And so we have returned to the original subject matter. Why is it that the new MINI range is failing in Australia? I would like to think that the fault lies in the range itself. The designers at BMW/MINI did not really think of how the new cars could fit into the market. They do not seem to have a certain audience. If I was to be totally honest I thought that the new MINI models were meant as a bit of a gimmick or a joke, either that or the designers happen to get bored and decided to see what was the most ridiculous thing they could come up with was.

Maybe MINI should scrap everything and start again. The MINI brand did have some pace and power initially, but with this new ridiculous output it has lost a lot of trust and excitement. If MINI were to introduce a dedicated sports range I think they would gain a lot more success.

So, to conclude, the failure of the new MINI models is down to the cars themselves and their lack of direction and place in the current market. Dearest BMW owners, you have heard my views, and you have heard my suggestions. I will leave the rest up to you.

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Peace and Love!

9 comments

  1. Nicki says:

    Perhaps it also has something to do with the retail price?
    On my recent visit to the UK I noticed how popular the Mini brand is (approx. every 1 in 3 cars in a retail park we visited was a Mini!) but then let’s face it, so is the price versus here in Australia where you looking at c.$50K new.
    And if it’s about owning a small car with personality, then surely you can’t go too far wrong with the new Fiat at around $15K? or for a relatively reliable “runner” the Toyota Yaris also below $20K?

    November 25th, 2013 at 10:01 am

  2. Mike says:

    Fiat, Toyota, you are kidding aren’t you.
    There is a reason they are only $15K…….to coin a phrase it isn’t a mini.

    November 26th, 2013 at 1:08 pm

  3. Sam Durvel says:

    Badly written article. It is full of negativism towards BMW instead of about Mini. Fact is that BMW made a 21 century car out of a legendary coffin on 4 wheels. And even if it is not a success in Australia, it was and is a success in Europe.
    It is a beautiful car but it all comes down to individual taste. The author seems to have forgotten that.
    One can not help but thinking that it was Mr Bean who uses a pseudonym to write this anti- new Mini rant.

    November 25th, 2013 at 10:07 am

  4. Mark says:

    As the very proud owner of an 18 month old Mini JCW in racing Green, I strongly believe the brand is alive and well. This can’t be just my opinion based on the number of Mini’s I delight in seeing as I drive around Sydney. I accept that the 4×4 Mini might be a stretch too far for the brand and whilst I agree the cost of a Mini compared to the UK is high this is not isolated to Mini, take the Ford Mondeo Titanium UK 28,000GBP – AU $50,000 compared to the Mini Cooper S UK 28,000GBP – AU $43,000. I would suggest that the article whilst biased to illustrate a point is well written and offers a perspective why at times brand stretch can go too far.

    November 25th, 2013 at 11:00 am

  5. Chris says:

    I bought a new cooper s in 2002 — absolutely loved it!! In the 9 years I had it, ‘new’ minis got progressively bigger and uglier! Now, I wouldn’t even consider one because the brand has been bastardised in the search for more sales.

    November 25th, 2013 at 11:49 am

  6. Kevin Clark says:

    I’m sure it’s a nice drive, but it’s an ugly car that lacks symmetry.

    November 25th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  7. David says:

    Retro styled cars always have a “use by date” and the Mini is no exception. Pewrhaps the reason why it supposedly still sells in the UK is that they need small cars much more than we do and perhaps some naive loyalty to whayt they may percieve as a British brand, LOL. The Mini also has BMW pricing (and option pricing) without the BMW badge.
    What is BMW going to do with the brand if it fails to sell? My answer is they need to look forward, not backward. Carve a new path make new history and make a Mini for the 21st century, one that doesnt pay any more homage to the original as its been well and truly done.

    November 25th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

  8. Mike says:

    “need small cars more than we do”; yes that is why the industry is heading the same way as the UK did 30 years ago……..no innovation and poor reliability.

    November 26th, 2013 at 1:16 pm

  9. Julie says:

    I love my Mini Countryman Cooper D, it ticks all the right boxes as far as I’m concerned. I love the size of the Countryman, it’s nice and spacious inside but not too bulky in the body. I test drove a regular Mini and found it a bit too cramped for my liking.

    I have the Countryman with a manual transmission and it’s great to drive, smooth and comfortable with nice, precise steering. I don’t think it’s ugly at all! It’s fun and classy looking. But I agree they are expensive, I could only afford to buy mine because I got a good price on a 2011 model through a private sale.

    Like Mark I see a lot of Minis around the Sydney metro area, but they’re mostly the regular (small) Minis, not a lot of Countrymans or Pacemans.

    November 25th, 2013 at 4:54 pm