Posted Jan 29th 2015 9:00AM
It was back in 2011 when Mini first showcased the prospect of an even smaller hatchback with the Rocketman concept at the Geneva Motor Show. In the nearly four years since, parent company BMW has hemmed and hawed on the possibility of putting it into production, but the latest word from Europe has it that the project is a go.
According to Automobile magazine, Mini is realigning its product portfolio into five pillars: the essential hardtop we've already seen (available in two/three- and four/five-doors), the convertible, the upcoming new Clubman wagon (coming this summer with full-size auxiliary suicide doors on both sides), the next-gen Countryman crossover in 2016 and two new model lines. One will be the production version of the Superleggera roadster concept, earmarked for 2018. The other will be the Minor, a smaller city car reviving a long-gone model name and presaged by the aforementioned Rocketman concept. But for that last one, Mini won't go it alone.
To develop the mini Mini, BMW will reportedly turn to its partnership with Toyota. The relationship is already set to yield a new Supra and Z4 and share fuel cell and other technologies. But this would broaden the partnership to include a small hatchback. However rather than use the existing (or next-gen) Aygo, which is already built under joint venture with PSA Peugeot Citroën (with which BMW previously had a joint engine venture), word has it that the BMW and Toyota will develop a new platform for the project – one that will be used by both partners.
The new product plan doesn't leave much room for the Mini Coupe and Roadster (which have already been discontinued), for the Paceman three-door crossover (which will suffer the same fate) or for the projected seven-seater minivan. But the addition of the new Superleggera roadster and super-mini Mini aren't likely to leave us wanting for either.