Ever since the first Mini emerged in 1959, the world has been in awe of this feisty little British company. The first Mini was a small, practical, and stripped down 2-door machine that captured the hearts of drivers the world over, and for the most part of Mini’s lifetime, not a lot changed. In fact, the 1959 model effectively existed right up to the year 2000, with seven distinct generation evolving along the way.
The modern Mini first appeared in 2001, and it heralded a new era for the firm, and a new era for the car. Over the years, the Mini marque has been passed from owner to owner, before finally coming to rest as a subsidiary of BMW. BMW has been keeping the dream alive, and since the year 2000, BMW and Mini have worked together to deliver newer and more modern iterations of the classic British icon. And they’re doing a great job of it.
If sales are anything to go by, the BMW-backed version of Mini is dong incredibly well. In fact, the company currently sells around 360,000 cars each year on the global market. In 2017, Mini managed to set a personal best by selling an impressive all-time high amount of 371,881 vehicles. 2018 was equally impressive with 361,531 units sold—granted, there’s a notable 2.8% sales drop there, but it’s barely worth mentioning. Consistent sales are the best kind of sales, and Mini is nothing but consistent.
The US market is a very important market for Mini, with US sales accounting for just over 12% of the company’s global sales in 2018. It’s a massive part of the Mini machine, but one that has been steadily in decline since around 2012 and 2013. 2018 saw 43,684 units sold in the USA. 2012/13 saw 66,000 units sold, and the sales drops may continue.
Will things continue in a downward spiral for Mini? It’s hard to say, but since the automotive industry as a whole has had a rough time over the past 10 years, singling out Mini’s sales downturn isn’t exactly an indication of the company’s health overall. Besides, things are looking up for the industry, and BMW and Mini will be working hard to develop new and exciting models for the future.
Like many auto makers, the future will see the application of new and exciting technologies and drivetrains, with a particular focus on hybrid and all-electric drive systems. The problem for Mini—a brand that builds on its classic nature—will be to marry the best elements of the past with modern technological advances to create something cutting edge, but unmistakably Mini, without diluting any of the original Mini’s heritage.
So without further ago, let’s take a look at what could be on offer from Mini in 2021. Now before we get too carried away, we’d like to stress that some of these entries are based on rumors, others on educated guesses, and some are 100% definitely going to happen. We’ve scoured the internet to see what might be coming out in 2021. If you don’t agree with any of these potential future Mini vehicles, don’t shoot the messenger! We just say what we see!
What To Expect From The 2021 Mini Line-Up
2021 Mini SUV
Smaller than the Countryman but with SUV ambitions, it seems like Mini has plans to launch a micro-SUV model to complement the wildly successful Countryman. Well, that’s what some rumor sites are suggesting. According to reports from a few UK-based magazines and other online portals, something decidedly SUV-like is in the pipeline, but at the moment it doesn’t have a name, few details can be found, and pictures are hard to come by. All they say is that it’s coming in 2021, and that we should be ready for it.
With that in mind, take the news with a pinch of salt because while the idea of a small-sized Mini SUV sounds great, it might just be a work of fiction to grab clicks from unsuspecting auto enthusiasts. But it got us thinking: could it happen? And if so, what would it be like? These excellent rendering by designer Avarvarii from the UK’s Auto Express magazine give us some excellent clues.
A safe bet would see any new Mini SUV sharing the same floorplan as the existing five-door Clubman, but with a smaller size. What makes us think that it’s going to be smaller is a comment made by BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer, who spoke to journalists back at the 2017 Los Angeles Motor Show, explaining: “That would not fit with MINI’s DNA – we would not make a seven-seater or something like that.[…] I think a Countryman is the maximum size and the right thing for MINI, but I wouldn’t see it getting any bigger.”
Answering a question about a smaller SUV option, Schwarzenbauer added: “That would be an interesting option, especially when you look around. There are few car types in the world right now that fit into every market. A small urban SUV is definitely a segment that is extremely interesting, but so far we haven’t made any decision on its direction.”
That could be an indication that something is coming. But it could also just be an off-the-cuff remark from an enthusiastic BMW executive. However, now that the Mini Cooper SE has been unveiled—the company’s first production model electric vehicle—it could lay the foundations for a new model. A small and compact SUV with an all-electric or plug-in hybrid powertrain could make for a very exciting model indeed.
If something is in the pipeline, it’s not going to be available for 2020, so we’re chalking this one up as a 2021 Mini model at the very earliest…if at all.
2021 Mini Countryman
Mini is expected to bring an updated Countryman to the table in 2021, which would make sense considering that we’ve seen the Mini Cooper and Convertible getting a refresh recently. The next in line would be the Clubman…and since eagle eyed car photographers have managed to snap a few shots of a prototype out on test, a 2021 release date doesn’t seem unreasonable. Don’t expect anything too drastic though.
Since the model in question is only midway through its life-cycle, only mild updates are expected. For example, an upgraded front and rear fascia is likely to be on the cards, perhaps some new Union Jack-inspired graphics on the taillights, and a logo update to the newer streamlined Mini emblem. Updates only. No overhauls or anything too wild.
The interior won’t get too much of an update either, with simple upgrades to the infotainment system in the form of new software and a 6.5 inch display, a new wireless charging pad, and more inter-connectivity options. 2021 should also introduce the addition of some new trim options too, for those who prefer higher levels of luxury.
There could be some nice tweaks to the engines and powertrains coming, but there isn’t any concrete news on that yet. For now, we’re expecting the 2021 Mini Countryman to have the same options as before. The first would be the base turbocharged 1.5 liter four cylinder engine that’s good for 134 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque; the more advanced Countryman S’s larger 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that produces 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque; and the range topping John Cooper Works Countryman All4 model, which has the same engine you’d find on the S, but with enough grunt to produce an enormous 301 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of peak torque, and perform 0 to 62 mph in a very impressive 5.1 seconds.
Hopefully, the 2021 Mini Cooper S E Countryman gets a downgrade in the price department before 2021 too, because it’s actually quite expensive for what it is, with prices starting from $38,000 for the base model. It’s a lot of money for a vehicle that could definitely be better, or at least more fun to drive.
2021 Mini John Cooper Works GP
Late 2019 saw the unveiling of Mini’s latest John Cooper Works GP, the third generation JCW GP machine, and undoubtedly the fastest Mini production car ever made. This beautiful little car is going to be limited to just 3000 units, but thankfully they’ll be available to customers from all over the world. So far, we know that prices will start from (a quite frankly affordable) $45,750, with the first models being delivered around mid-2020 if all goes to plan.
Delivery might be in 2020, but these will be badged up as 2021 vehicles. By that virtue alone, it qualifies for this model overview page! But what does the new JCW GP really have to offer? Is it worth the price tag?
Yes it is.
The engine specifications alone are worth the investment. Powered by a 2.0 liter twin turbo four cylinder engine, the JCW GP has enough grunt to produce an impressive 301 horsepower and 331 lb-ft of peak torque, the ability to hit 62 mph from a standstill in a whopping 5.1 seconds, and reach a top speed of 185 mph. That power is delivered to the front wheels (only) via an 8 speed automatic gearbox, with a mechanical diff lock that helps deliver torque to the front wheels independently when it needs it. No manual? No, but the automatic gearbox is there to protect you from yourself, really.
That’s just the base model specs too. There’s an additional plethora of performance upgrades that you can have installed for a little extra dollar. These include improved downforce aerodynamic upgrades, special track-tuned suspension, performance brakes, improved cooling vents and air systems, and light alloy wheel options. You can even invest in a weight-reduction kit which replace some parts of the body with lightweight carbon-fiber reinforced plastic alternatives.
But you don’t even need to invest in the weight-saving mods, because the John Cooper Works GP model has already stripped out what can be stripped out. For example, the interior doesn’t feature any of that sound-deadening and damping material, the rear seats have been removed in favour of an aluminum cross brace, and lighter sports seats have been installed up front. Other weight-shaving features include 3D printed knick knacks, lighter shift paddles, smaller digital instrumentation, and a new central screen.
The changes have made the car into something seriously fun to drive. In fact, it can rip around the Nürburgring in less than 8 minutes, which is very impressive when the last model took almost 30 seconds more than the new iteration. If you’re looking for small sized fun but want big car performance, then the JCW GP is arguably one of the best cars for compact racing that you can buy.
2021 Mini Cooper SE
We’ve already seen the Mini Cooper SE, Mini’s first mass-produced electric car, getting a formal unveiling. We know most of the details too. And yes, it’s actually set to be released sometime around mid-2020. In the UK, at least. While we know that the Mini Cooper SE is going to have a 2020 release, we think that it might be more like a 2021 release in the North American market. By the looks of things, it’s going to be worth the wait. After all, the legendary Mini platform seems like the perfect fit for a small, urban electric vehicle. It’s actually a wonder that the company has taken so long to deliver a practical production model.
So what do we know? Well, the new model is called the Mini Cooper SE, but it has a different name in the UK: the Mini Electric. It’s going to have all of the favorable qualities that a regular Mini has, but instead of an internal combustion engine, it will have an electric powertrain instead. And that’s the problem; even though the idea of an electric Mini is cool and forward-thinking, the actual range performance specifications the Mini Cooper SE offer fall short of its nearest competition.
On paper, the Mini’s range doesn’t measure up to anything from the likes of Hyundai, Kia, General Motors, or Tesla. Since the biggest hang up many drivers have about electric cars is the range, this could be a big problem. However, what the Mini Cooper SE lacks in range it makes up for in other areas.
Firstly, there’s the charm of it all. It’s a vehicle that Mini claims to be as seminal as the original 1959 Mini. The new Mini is almost 100% identical to the existing two-door hardtop Mini currently on sale, but with some minor differences. For example, it features a special Mini Electric logo on the indicators, trunk, and front grill. There’s 16 inch alloy wheels, with room for a 17 inch upgrade if you want bigger rims. Yellow accents also appear on the mirror caps and on the grille. Talking of the grille, the front grille has basically been closed up because the electric motor doesn’t require much in the way of cooling. And of course, there’s no exhaust either.
The actual performance specifications are quite impressive. The new Mini Cooper SE will share the same powertrain as the BMW i3, with motors that provide a maximum output of 181 horsepower and a very respectable 199 lb-ft of peak torque. It’s a little less than the Mini Cooper S’s turbocharged 189 horsepower, but it’s not bad at all. But that’s where the good times end. While the batteries can be charged to 80% in 35 minutes with a 50 kW fast charger, the actual maximum usable range of the Mini is only 114 miles (according to measurements from the EPA). Mini claims up to 168 miles per charge, but we’ll have to wait and see what real life driving results come in.
In short, it’s going to be a fun and exciting vehicle for short distance drivers, but probably not the best option for those who would like to travel further afield on a single charge. Still, for an expected MSRP of $30,000 it’s still a worthy addition to the Mini range.