A Maxi Mini?

Posted by: David Welch on September 22, 2008

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Say it isn’t so. BMW’s diminutive Mini brand is expected to show a suv concept at the Paris Auto Show next month. OK, it’s a small crossover with all-wheel drive. But the idea seems anathema for Mini, which introduced cool compacts to Americans well before compacts were cool. The show car is six inches wider and taller than the stretched Mini Clubman. Maybe it’s for family folk who want more passenger space to go with mini’s Eurochic cachet.

But is it really so un-Mini? Not all, as it turns out. Over Mini’s many decades in Europe, the brand sold dozens of different variants. There was the Mini Moke, which can best be described as the child of a Mini Cooper and Jeep Wrangler. The Mini Countryman could be the progenitor of today’s Clubman. There was even a Mini pickup in the ‘60s and ‘70s. BMW is just beginning to see how far the company can stretch this brand, whose sales are up 32% through August. Hey, a little Mini can go a long way.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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