Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can MINI be a Mindset?

So, it turns out the all-new MINI Beachcomber Concept has had a real polarizing impact on folks. Some people love it while others seem to hate it, claiming that it betrays the basic concept of the MINI. Along with Doogs and others, I'm feelin' the need to sound off on this one. (By the way, this has totally postponed an awesome Airstream post I've been workin' on.)

I guess people, such as the chumps over at Wired's
Autopia blog, seem to think that off-roading isn't part of the MINI brand. They are obviously not remembering the original Mini Moke jeep-like vehicle, so there. But for me it wouldn't matter if they already had an off-road heritage or not. MINI has been constantly knocking it out of the park since the new MINI launched in 2002. In fact nearly every month this year, MINI's global sales were up by double digits. Just like R.E.M. with Monster and Radiohead with Kid A, I believe MINI has earned the right to shake things up a bit.

The real question is: Can the MINI philosophy successfully exist in an off-road-style vehicle? Can MINI be a mindset? Applying these questions to the Beachcomber Concept, I think the answer is yes. The new MINI SUV that arrives next Fall, on which this concept is based, is in fact miniature in comparison to oh say the Chevy Tahoes of the world. It's honestly not much bigger than a Clubman, check out the comparison photo here.

Despite whether or not you dig the design of the Beachcomber, you can't deny that it is in fact designed... meaning it's obviously been thought through with an eye for detail. And given both MINI and BMW's track records for creating ultimate driving machines, you can basically guarantee the thing's gonna be a blast to drive. Think about when BMW release the original X5, naysayers complained about how it would diminish BMW's motorsport heritage... right up until they got behind the wheel.

We've now been given a reason to slide a second MINI into the garage. And let's face it, more MINIs = more awesome.


Anonymous said...

The offroading thing is a silly argument. There are many different kinds of offroading, and it's not like Mini is trying to challenge the Jeep Wrangler here or anything. Word is that Mini is considering running the new CUV in Paris-Dakar, which isn't hardcore rockcrawling, but most definitely qualifies as offroading.

As to the Mini mindset...I tend to think of it more as a collection of attributes. A Mini has to be 1) small for its category 2) eager and quirky and 3) a tight-handling blast of a drive.

kyality said...

Here, here.